‘The blitz drove us to the ballet’

One of Brackley’s most illustrious performers is to appear in a BBC documentary called Why Britain Fell in Love With Ballet.

During nearly 80 years of performing and then teaching ballet, Ann Steedman of Old Brewery Walk has worked with some of the biggest names.

Ann Steedman with presenter David Bintley being filmed teaching ballet by the BBC at Farthinghoe village hall.'130924M-E689

Ann Steedman with presenter David Bintley being filmed teaching ballet by the BBC at Farthinghoe village hall.'130924M-E689

This week a BBC Four crew filmed her ahead of her regular Tuesday evening lessons in Farthinghoe for the documentary to be aired next year.

Mrs Steedman said she was contacted by the producers via her life membership of the Royal Dance Academy. After several rounds of interview researchers realised she had seen peformances at the Royal Opera House at the age of three, then witnessed it reopen after the war years as the Sadlers Wells ballet.

She described the 1940s as an ‘ugly ghastly time’ and that people were searching for something ‘good and true and a belief in something better’.

She added: “I can best explain it as something like this. When I was tiny and taken into the ballet shoe shops in London, the walls were covered with photos of dancers from all over the world. I felt they were the most fascinating and glamorous thing I’d ever seen.

“A different world, different from the world around me which at that time was not very nice with Hitler’s Blitz going on and sleeping every night in an underground shelter at the end of my grandmother’s long garden as huge bombs fell all around us.”

Mrs Steedman has performed in hit shows alongside greats such as Betty Davies and Margot Fonteyn.