Dancer, 83, to hold Latin American dance workshop at Lesnes Abbey for adults and children

PUBLISHED: 10:47 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:47 10 May 2018

Elsa Perez in action. Picture: Elsa Perez

Elsa Perez in action. Picture: Elsa Perez


She could be south east London’s most passionate dance master, but 83-year-old Elsa Perez is not resting on any laurels - she has hundreds of children to save in South Africa.

Elsa Perez, 83.  Picture: Elsa PerezElsa Perez, 83. Picture: Elsa Perez

Elsa was born there, but was forced to leave because of her mixed race.

Now she is determined to go back and complete here work with an amateur dance group of children that call themselves the Riel Dancers.

To that end, Elsa is doing a one hour Latin American Dance Workshop at The Lodge, Lesnes Abbey on Sunday, May 13 with tickets costing £7 for adults and £3 for children.

The super-fit dancer, teacher and choreographer was born in Cape Town, and there seems to be no end to her achievements.

Elsa and the Riel Dancers. Picture: Elsa PerezElsa and the Riel Dancers. Picture: Elsa Perez

A Just Giving page is live to raise the money she needs to go back to South Africa and make the most of a short film she had made called Get Riel.

It will help pay for the dance group’s education. Elsa has already helped send them to Los Angeles to take part in a major traditional dance competition where they won three class medals.

Her friend and business partner Moira Rowan said: “Now they have reaching some minor celebrity status, we both want to carry on the work to help them get in to class.”

Moira said: “Elsa still dances with four groups in London and has been trained by some of the best Latin American and Cuban Dance Teachers in the World.

“This workshop in a fundraiser in aid of the Riel Dancers of SA for their schooling and touring costs.”

Elsa added: “I am a member of the Council of International Dance at Unesco known as CID, or Conseil Internationale de la Danse.

“I have been the teacher and administrator of the Iberian Folk Dance and Music Society for 15 years, having joined the group five years previously.

“We are also affiliated to the Society of International Folk Dance.

“I have also been the teacher, administrator of the Proteas Quadrille Dance Group since 2003.

“I was a founder member of the London School of Samba in 1984 and still dance with them in the annual Notting Hill Carnival, usually over about five or six hours in the Parade. I have done choreography for them in recent years.

With seemingly no end to her dance skills, she went on to say: “We are going to Cape Town in August to film a feature film called ‘Elsa and The Riel Dancers’ will be filmed in Clanwilliam where the Riel dancers live in very impoverished communities.

“But the idea of the film is to showcase their traditional dancing and to help these teenage dancers with their schooling and touring costs.”

Moira said: “Elsa and I believe that no child or young person should struggle to gain an education due to financial constraints.”

They have a Just Giving page set up to help fund the film project and any left proceeds from the sale of the film will be put in trust for the Riel dancers.

She added: “We have sent the film to many festivals around the world and have both been working tirelessly to bring the hardships of this region to the world.

“A child needs education and we are determined to see that happen. It is shocking that there are still areas that do not have schools. We want to change that.”

The Just Giving page is at

Tickets for the workshop can be purchased from the Abbey Good Coffee Kiosk at Lesnes Abbey Belvedere DA175DL

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