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‘Their Grace Filled Our Hearts’ – Ex-Dancer Praises Young Performers’ Care Home Show

A former ballet dancer enjoyed a surprise treat when 21 young performers turned up at her Dorchester care home to entertain her and fellow residents.

Jill Kember took a special interest in the visit to Colten Care’s Castle View in Poundbury by Dorchester Ballet and Dance Club.

The ex-ballet school student and amateur performer watched as the dancers went through a series of ballet, contemporary pieces and hip hop – which proved a new dance for some of the audience.

She said: “I’m thrilled that the performances were showcased to all residents. The costumes and grace of the dancers filled the hearts of all.”

London-born Jill had polio as a child and, having no access to professional physiotherapy, it was suggested that ballet might help her condition so she was sent to a ballet school in Bromley, Kent.

“Ballet practice did indeed help,” she said. “I used to dance at events and galas, that kind of thing. It helped my recovery from polio and gave me the chance to live a ‘normal’ adult life.”

Jill continued her interest in ballet while bringing up her family and working as a personal assistant at a Midlands doctors’ practice.

“While I was never a professional, I still love everything about ballet,” she said.

Team members at Castle View have continued to help Jill enjoy her lifelong passion for dance since she moved to the Bridport Road home in March 2021.

Later that same year, they accompanied her to watch stars from the Royal Ballet perform in the grounds of Tudor mansion Athelhampton House, ten miles from Dorchester.

After the show, Jill had a face-to-face chat with Principal Dancers Ryoichi Hirano and Fumi Kaneko.

“We talked about their performance, dance in general and their experience of ballet companies. I was thrilled they spoke with me,” Jill said at the time, adding that one of her fondest memories was 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.”

Asked for her advice to young dancers, Jill said: “Make sure you find a really good teacher, someone qualified. If you have the desire in your heart for dance then you will dance.”

Discussing the visit by Dorchester Ballet and Dance, Companionship Team member Stephanie Jolliffe said: “Jill and fellow residents loved it. The young visitors performed different dances which some in the audience hadn’t experience before. A huge thank-you to all involved.”

 

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