Jill relives her dancing days

Jill meets Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Ryoichi Hirano, left, and Fumi Kaneko.
Jill meets Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Ryoichi Hirano, left, and Fumi Kaneko.

A former ballet dancer who lives at our Poundbury home Castle View enjoyed a memorable outing to a performance by stars from the Royal Ballet.

Jill Kember even took the opportunity for a chat with Principal Dancers Ryoichi Hirano and Fumi Kaneko.

“It was a wonderful evening,” Jill said. “I loved every minute of it. When I spoke with the dancers, we discussed their performance. I was thrilled that they came to say hello to me personally. They looked so elegant and their costumes were exquisite. We also talked about dance in general and their experience of ballet companies.”

Jill met Ryoichi and Fumi after they had danced a series of duets and set pieces in the grounds of Tudor manor Athelhampton House, ten miles from Castle View.

Their repertoire included Rose Adagio from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, widely regarded as one of the most challenging pieces of choreography in classical ballet.

“I won’t forget things like that,” said Jill. “I still love everything about ballet. I used to dance but I was not a professional. I was a London girl and I had polio as a child. There was no physiotherapy then. It was suggested that ballet might help my condition, so I was sent to a ballet school in Kent. The ballet practice did indeed help. I used to dance at events and galas. It helped my recovery from polio and gave me the chance to live a ‘normal’ adult life.”

One of Jill’s fondest memories is seeing the legendary Margot Fonteyn dance. “I still remember seeing her on stage at Covent Garden in 1960. It was in a first-night performance of Les Sylphides and she was astounding.”

Jill was accompanied to Athelhampton House by Castle View’s Companionship team leader Katja Williams.

Jill said: “I was most grateful for the experience and thoroughly enjoyed it. Without Katja’s drive and determination, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. It’s all down to her.”

Katja said of Jill: “She’s a beautiful lady and it was a privilege to accompany her on the trip and to see how much it meant to her.”

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