School honours dance teacher’s legacy

A plaque inside the dance studio honours the legacy of Agatha Manuel.

Oaklands High School in Lansdowne has named its dance studio after Agatha Manuel, an Athlone dance teacher the school has lauded for inspiring its pupils.

The Agatha Manuel Dance Studio was unveiled on Tuesday October 13, the first anniversary of Ms Manuel’s death, at 48.

Her brother, André Manuel, said a blood clot had entered her lungs – a complication from a knee operation she had undergone three weeks earlier for a dance-related injury.

Oaklands High School principal Mahir Jeffery said Ms Manuel’s death had been a terrible loss for the school. “She had a huge impact on the children and staff, and she formed many relationships and friendships in the short time at the school,” he said.

Ms Manuel joined Oaklands High School four years ago, coming from Belhar High School where she had taught dance as part of the school’s creative arts programme.

She studied dance at UCT where she specialised in ballet, modern and Spanish dance and was also a member of the Royal Academy of Dance.

Ms Manuel had done wonderful work with the pupils, Mr Jeffery said. “She was passionate, and saw this teaching as an opportunity for the kids to shine.”

Ms Manuel’s family had also supported the school, providing it with a donation during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

Mr Manuel said his sister had always been passionate about dance. She had done ballet from a young age at the Eoan Group in Athlone, and, as part of the dance company in the late 1980s and 1990s, had toured the country. However, she had derived even greater joy from teaching dance, he said.

Mr Manuel said he felt proud that the school had honoured his sister’s legacy.

“She worked extremely hard, and it is good to see her hard work acknowledged. She was passionate and dedicated.”