Jacqueline Aldridge started her RAD dance training at the age of 6 and progressed on to complete an O level in Ballet. After enrolling on the RAD Teachers Training Course in 1973, she was lucky enough to dance in front of Dame Margot Fonteyn, Dame Alicia Markova and Dame Beryl Grey!
We asked Jackie:
Q. You started RAD ballet lessons in 1961 at the age of 6 in Maghull, Liverpool. Can you remember the experience of your first ballet lesson?
A. I can remember sitting in a circle stretching and flexing my feet whilst enjoying the music that Mrs Sumner played on the piano. At the end of the class Mrs Pimbley taught us to shake hands and curtsey and for this we were rewarded with a milk chocolate button! I shall never forget “1-2-3 hop” as we learnt to polka with a partner for the Primary exam. I must have done something right as I achieved Honours after just a year’s attendance! However, when we got down to the nitty gritty of Grade 1, for which I was awarded Commended, this proved more of a challenge!
Q. When you enrolled on the RAD Teachers Training Course in 1973, you were taught Anatomy, Psychology and Historical Dance. How important do you think it is for dancers to have knowledge of all non-practical areas of dance?
A. Whether you are going to dance or teach, a dancer can never have too much knowledge about their own body and how it works. This is important to both achieve standard and avoid injury. A dancer will have a natural enthusiasm for their art and knowledge of the historical background can only enrich performance and inspire all those you teach.
Q. At the RAD Christmas Demonstration and Cocktail Party, you were lucky enough to dance in front of Dame Margot Fonteyn, Dame Alicia Markova and Dame Beryl Grey! What was it like to perform for these iconic dance figures?
A. A little awe inspiring! It was an honour and a privilege to be amongst the dancers, teachers and choreographers that you had read about in your ballet books as a youngster. As a teenager in the 1970s, I saw Margot Fonteyn dance Swan Lake at the Empire in Liverpool and then again in Sleeping Beauty at the Opera House in Manchester. As President of the Academy she was an inspiration to me and despite her busy schedule and high profile, she was often at major Academy events together with Vice President Beryl Grey and Alicia Markova, co-founder of the English National Ballet. They were enthusiastic to inspire and promote standard and excellence in their art for the next generation. I can’t imagine what they thought of our dancing, but essentially we were there to train to teach and in the words of Dame Ninette “teaching is its own skill. Whilst the best dancers don’t necessarily make the best teachers, the key to sound teaching is good demonstration which can be achieved via the Academy’s examination system”.
Q. Shortly after gaining your LRAD in 1976, you embarked on a teaching career at the Jean Hart School of Ballet in Banstead, Surrey. What advice could you give to newly graduated RAD Registered Teachers who are just starting out on their own journey?
A. The building blocks and background methodology of the RAD syllabus provide a sound training for ballet. If you are being employed to teach ballet only, then there is no finer training, however to have a successful school it is important to offer training in other areas of dance and exercise. Dance is for everyone and I have enjoyed teaching adults, in academic schools and those involved in sports. Most importantly you must pass on your love of the art of ballet, music and dance and continue the excellent work of the Royal Academy of Dance.
Q. You retired from full time teaching in 1988 but still enjoy teaching pre-school children on a weekly basis. In five words, how would you describe your career with the RAD?
A. Wow, this is not easy! I would say Inspire, Learn, Persevere, Achieve and Impart.
Find out more about Jackie by viewing her Full Profile