Tuesday Retro: Tutus and ballet shoes

Ballet 9th March 1967
Ballet 9th March 1967
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All little girls dream of being ballerinas - but not men and not in the North! Well, so it would seem in the 1950s.

After a stuttering start, Sheffield’s passion for ballet grew as it became more accessible as the influence of television spread.



On August 4, 1956, Pat Roberts reported in The Star about a brand new Sheffield club: “It all began a couple of months ago with a few words in the personal column... WANTED, it read, people interested in forming a ballet club - or words to that effect.

“In answer to that advertisement, put in The Star by Mrs Muriel Ross, a former ballet dancer, over 30 people joined together to form Sheffield’s only ballet club.

“Mrs Ross was right in her belief that there were a lot of adults in Sheffield who learned how to dance but gave it up for marriage or other commitments. Many members of this newly-formed club are, like Mrs Ross, housewives who feel they need an outlet and a form of exercise which they love.

“The Sheffield club also has its own secretary - Mrs Ross, treasurer - the only male member, Mr H Clayton, and a committee.

Ballet - 9th March 1967

Ballet - 9th March 1967

“The most exciting event in the future is the making of a film by a Rotherham amateur photographer who will make a ‘movie’ of the dancers doing the Mazurka from Coppelia. For this and other reasons, Mrs Ross told me that the club is really in need of male members.

“In my research on this subject I found one man who tried to start a similar club in Sheffield over five years ago.

“He is Mr Michael Bristown, a 23-year-old solicitor, now practising in Sheffield.

“When Mr Bristown was a student he was impressed by the reception audiences gave to ballet when it visited Sheffield.

“He and his friends sense a long-felt need for an organisation exclusively devoted to the study of ballet and tried to do what Mrs Ross has now done with great success.

“Mr Bristown intended his club to be primarily for non-dancers. But his idea was not meet with much enthusiasm. Perhaps that was because five years ago ballet in the North was not so well appreciated.

“Now through the influence of television there is a bigger body of informed ballet lovers.”