Lydia Ungaretti in memoriam
Peter Maxwell remembers one of his dearest friends
It is my sad duty to report the passing away of Lydia Ungaretti.
Lydia was a much loved personality in the dance world, closely associated with dancers from every dancing nation in her position as Manager of the Semley Studio, London.
Lydia, originally from South Africa, competed, with her partner Greg de Wet, with considerable success and were one of many overseas couples who have came to London to study and compete, ending up staying and making it their home.
Lydia and Greg competed, again with success, in England and Internationally and on retirement became Managers of the now legendary Semley Practices, the success oIn South Africa Lydia was also a renowned hair stylist and her skills amongst competitors when in London were in great demand with her dressing the heads of many famous champions. The exceptional one or two were lucky enough to have her services even after she had decided to concentrate on her management duties at the The Semley.
It was some ten years ago that she became General Manager of the Semley a position in which she worked tirelessly and inexhaustibly. It is doubtful any other single person in the dancing world had contact with more couples over the years than Lydia. Each received the same warm welcome and generous help and assistance whether beginner or grand champion.
Lydia was the first port of call in a crisis for so many dancers and innumerable people benefited in so many ways from her kindness and assistance, whether from helping the injured, sorting out towed away cars, managing the loss of luggage and so many mundane but vitally important things that are so difficult to manage if you are in a foreign country and needing someone to answer a cry for help. She was also a wonderful shoulder to cry on in troubled times and she absorbed and heard many secrets. Those who confided in her knowing her discretion was absolute.
Apart from The Semley she was also an active member of her local church where she was entrusted with the accounting of the collections. This highlighted what those that knew her understood very well; her complete and utter honesty and truthfulness. She would account in all things to the last penny with total accuracy. She dealt with people in the same way; totally honestly and truthfully way. Lydia was trusted.
It was The Semley that was her pride and joy and to which she was utterly devoted. Through that devotion and her contact with so many she became an internationally known personality but one who preferred, always, to be working behind the scenes and not in the lime light, but no less important for that. Lydia was part of the foundation of the dancing industry, her contribution not trumpeted but quietly playing in the background making things work, being of service, helping and loving dancing and dancers
In October this year Lydia celebrated with Greg the tremendous achievement of 25th Anniversary of The Semley Practice. Seven days a week the mantra like that of the famous Windmill Theatre in London was the practice never closes! Christmas and major competitions apart she was always there for the couples for twenty five years. It was extremely difficult to find a suitable way to thank her for that extraordinary contribution to The Semley and the dancers of the world. The solution was to declare that from then on the main studio of the The Semley would be named
The Lydia Ungaretti Studio.
Thankfully she was overjoyed at this.
A plaque memorialising her name and contribution now declares the studio as Lydia’s
a personal basis she was a rock to me, someone who could always be
relied on even in the most difficult times. In so many deeply personal
ways so often she was the person whose support and comfort was always
there come what may. She is simply irreplaceable and the kindest most
treasured of friends
Her last months were, sadly, not easy. She
suffered considerable pain but, of course, endured it with the stoicism
we expected. However, her final weeks were more peaceful and her end, in
her sleep, dignified and painless. Lydia passed away on Nov. 8th 2012
from complications due to multiple cancers.
It is normal for us
to say people will be missed but in Lydia’s case, someone who was truly
an original, it will really be the case for dancers from every country
where dancing is practiced.
Whether from the first major mass
invasion by Scandinavians in the 1970’s, to the huge numbers of Japanese
, to the Italian influx, to the eastern European emerging countries, to
the USA, to the new Chinese dancers Lydia was admired, respected and
always there for all of them. She knew it all, had seen everything and
shared the benefit of that knowledge and kindness with each and every
one who needed it.
Lydia is survived by Greg de Wet to whom our greatest sympathy and condolences go.
she now is (surely if there is one, it must heaven) she is certainly
slowly getting them organised, making sure everything is polished,
insuring all accounts are up to date and probably launching a small
practice night for all the great dancers of the past who surround her.
Certainly no one could do it better
Lydia, the dancers of the world will miss you.
Peter Maxwell for which was entirely due to their huge efforts and dedication.
foto z uroczystości pożegnania
Redakcja serdecznie dziękuje Pani Magdalenie za współpracę redakcyjną i foto. :)