Shan Pillay
1 minute read
21 Jun 2022
08:31

Pietermaritzburg dancing legend Daphne Josiah dies, aged 86

Shan Pillay

Pietermaritzburg-born dancing damsel of the sixties and seventies, Daphne Josiah, died, aged 86, at her Panorama Gardens home on Friday.

Pietermaritzburg-born dancing damsel of the sixties and seventies, Daphne Josiah, died, aged 86, at her Panorama Gardens home on Friday.

Josiah, partnered by Ronald Gabriel, waltzed through the South African Ballroom and Latin American Championships in 1965 and were undefeated as national champions for 10 years.

A school mistress, Josiah turned professional in 1963 and after some rigorous training and dedication, she entered the world of national competitive dancing, taking provincial and national honours.

Pioneering duo

Josiah’s fluttering around the dance floor with grace and charm, against competitors from all over South Africa, was a scene yet unwitnessed in the national dancing arena.

Although stiff competition came from seasoned dancers like Ranga Naidoo and Shan Pillay, they never touched the prowess of the Pietermaritzburg duo.

Josiah was born on May 1, 1936. She graduated from the Springfield Teacher’s Training College.

She taught at the Nizamia Primary School for 34 years and in 1961 she joined the Ronnie Gabriel dancing school with Chile Ramsingh, as her partner.

She then turned professional and partnered Ronnie Gabriel.

When Gabriel died, Josiah opened her own school. Many social dancers around the province will long remember this dynamic fleet-footed damsel of dancing as they perform their line dancing in her memory.