A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Denise Schultze studied ballet with Faith de Villiers, David Poole of the Sadlers Wells Ballet Theater, and the great Russian teacher Vera Volkova. She qualified in London, and was later appointed as an examiner of the Cecchetti Method.
She was a founding member and ballerina of the Johannesburg City Ballet, a company formed by Faith de Villiers and Yvonne Mounsey of the New York City Ballet. Her most celebrated portrayals at this time were “Swanilda” in Coppelia, opposite David Blair of the Royal Ballet, and as guest artist in the title role of David Poole’s production of Sylvia, with the Cape Town Ballet. Ms. Schultze was also on the staff of the University of Cape Town Ballet School.
In 1963, the Johannesburg City Ballet was taken over by the Performing Arts Council of the Transvall and became known as PACT Ballet. From the inception of PACT Ballet, until she left the company in 1978, Ms. Schultze was closely associated with this classical ballet company – as ballerina, ballet mistress, and from 1973 through 1978, as co-artistic director with her husband, Louis Godfrey.
As a superb classical ballerina, Ms. Schultze won great acclaim in many great roles including, Sylvia, Firebird, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Coppelia.
As PACT’s ballet mistress, Ms. Schultze contributed extensively to the excellence of the company. When she and Louis Godfrey became co-artistic directors of PACT Ballet in 1973, Ms. Schultze continued to teach the company but also had the opportunity to produce major classical ballets. From the team of Schultze and Godfrey, PACT Ballet acquired magnificent new productions of Coppelia, Giselle, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and Les Sylphides.
In 1979, Ms. Schultze was invited by Ballet Gulbenkian in Lisbon to be a guest teacher with the company, and later became ballet mistress.
She was invited by Bruce Marks to become ballet mistress for Ballet West in the United States in 1981, and remained with the company until 1986. During her time with Ballet West, Mr. Schultze, with her husband, staged Paquita, Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Graduation Ball, and Les Sylphides for the company.
At this time, she was made a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in London.
In November 1986, Ms. Schultze was invited by the director of the Royal Ballet School in London, Dame Merle Park, to teach the Graduate Class. She has since then spent a year on the staff of the Royal Ballet and returned regularly as a guest teacher.
In 1989, Ms. Schultze was invited to the National Ballet School of Canada by Betty Oliphant. She has had a close association with the school since this time as a permanent member and as a guest teacher.
Ms. Schultze accepted the responsibility of collating a complete eight year syllabus distinctive to the National Ballet School’s requirements, and worked closely with the Artistic Director over a period of three years.
Ms. Schultze has been a guest teacher for the following companies: The Royal Ballet, the Australian Ballet, PACT Ballet, Cape Town City Ballet, Ballet Gulbenkian, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Ballet Mississippi, Ballet Memphis, Richmond Ballet, and The New National Ballet in Tokyo, Japan.
Together with Louis Godfrey, she has staged The Sleeping Beauty (2002), Romeo and Juliet (2003), and Swan Lake (2004) for the South African Ballet Theatre.
Ms. Schultze was on the panel of jurors at the International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Mississippi in 2002, and again in 2006.
2006 saw her return to Canada’s National Ballet School for the Fall Semester.
In 2007, she staged Swan Lake for Orlando Ballet with her husband Louis Godfrey.
She has been a member of the faculty of Boston Ballet’s Summer Dance Program for the past nine years.