Dance teacher dies, 71
A former Hastings dance teacher, Ivena Spencer, 71, died of cancer in Coalinga, California, on Monday.
Mrs Spencer, nee Pothan, was well-known in Hastings performing arts circles in the 1940s and 50s as a teacher and show producer.
She helped establish the Hastings Musical Comedy Company after her production of Holiday Cruise in 1950 introduced many Hastings people to the stage. Several members of the cast became founders of the company. She was also a member of the Napier Frivolity Minstrels.
During the Second World War Mrs Spencer was active in the patriotic fund-raising shows held every Saturday night in the Hastings Municipal Theatre. She took leading roles in many shows and was the first woman in Hastings to get her pilot’s licence.
Mrs Spencer had a studio in Queen St where the Group Theatre is now. She also had one in Napier where she also taught ballet, tap, jazz dancing and elocution.
She left Hastings in 1957 with her helicopter mechanic spouse Russell and lived in Peru, Alaska, Colorado, Virginia, Oregon and recently California where she continued to teach dance.
Mr Spencer helped set up World-Wide Helicopters in New Zealand in the 1960s.
Mrs Spencer was the daughter of the late Hastings couple William and Dorrie Pothan. She is survived by her husband and sister, June Whitten, Opotiki.
Photo caption – Mrs Spencer