A former ballet teacher who taught across six decades has been made a full life member of the Royal Academy of Dance – and she says there is no better training for children.
Ann Steedman, 82, retired last year when one of her students Claire Mawby took over Brackley Ballet School.
But Mrs Steedman, who lives in Old Brewery Walk, Brackley, has been recognised as one of the academy’s most esteemed members this week and she says ballet is an important life lesson in discipline.
She said: “I’m really very delighted to be recognised and I think it’s great for dance because it needs to stay in the public eye.
“There is so much wall-to-wall sport at the moment, I think people need to know that ballet has in fact never been more healthy.
“There’s a saying that ballet teachers are the last bastions of discipline. You have to have discipline and I don’t mean that in a nasty way.
“Mums would say to me ‘she now puts her shoes together nicely and we have noticed all sorts of changes’.
“I strongly believe that it is an extraordinary training ground for anyone.”
Mrs Steedman passed her first ballet exam in 1941, aged nine, and as a teenager she became the first girl in Northants to receive a ballet training grant.
Mrs Steedman (pictured left, in 1954) went on to have a 14-year career in ballet which saw her perform in London’s West End.
She then became a teacher in 1962, taught at Winchester House School and Stowe School, and choreographed her own production - Epiphany! - at St Peter’s Church in Brackley in 1984.
She lives with her two cats Fleur and Luke, has three grandchildren who all live in America and a seven-year-old great-grandson called Ashton.
The Royal Academy of Dance was formed in the 1920s to improve dancing and lift the profile of ballet in the UK. Its president is Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell and its patron is the Queen.