Jill hangs up her ballet slippers

Retiring ballet teacher Jill Chase, pictured with her successor Freya Lovett and past and present pupils

AFTER 42 years of teaching young people to dance, Jill Chase has finally packed away her ballet shoes.

There were few dry eyes in the Woodmead Halls when Mrs Chase officially stood down as principal of the Lyme Regis Ballet School, which she formed in 1976 after gaining the prestigious Registered Teacher Status with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).

The hall was packed with pupils past and present to see Mrs Chase receive a Royal Academy Dance Certificate of Distinction together with a signed card from former ballerina and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ judge Darcy Bussell.

Mrs Chase has enjoyed a lifetime of singing and dancing professionally, and has been able to share a wealth of artistic experience, ballet and teaching knowledge. She has taught many local girls and boys in classical ballet and tap over the last 42 years – up to three generations of some families have studied dance with her.

She is a life member of the RAD and her ethos of “classical ballet: accessible for all” has made her school highly popular.

During her time as principal of Lyme Regis Ballet School she has entered 591 pupils for RAD examinations, with a 100 per cent success rate and of which 439 passed with merit or distinction.

Miss Freya Lovett, a pupil of Mrs Chase since the age of 14, has taken over as principal of the school. She is studying for the Royal Academy of Dance’s BA (Hons) Dance Education degree and already holds a Level 4 Certificate and Level 5 Diploma in Dance Education.

Miss Freya is an experienced dancer having completed all Royal Academy of Dance Graded Ballet Examinations from Pre-Primary to Grade 8 (Distinction), and Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced 1 of their Vocational Graded Syllabi. She has recently gained her own Registered Teacher Status with the RAD having successfully completed her teachers’ exam and is a licensed Silver Swans® teacher.

Miss Lovett said: “It is such an honour to learn from the fantastic Jill and I am forever grateful for the opportunity that she has given me to teach at her school. “Jill is the greatest ballet teacher and I know you will all agree and join me in thanking her for her dedication to us all. I will endeavour to do Jill proud and teach the students of Lyme Regis as long as I can.”

As well as teaching children from the age of two and a half years-old, Lyme Regis Ballet School can now offer Silver Swans® ballet classes for adult dancers of any age and dancing ability (male and female).

Developed by the Royal Academy of Dance, the Silver Swans® programme is based on research into dance practice for adult and older learners and promotes ballet for overall health and wellbeing. A number of her mature pupils were present at Sunday’s farewell event.

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Woodmead Halls