A lifetime of dance for Janet

PUBLISHED: 01:16 23 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:39 20 February 2013

A lifetime of dance for Janet

A lifetime of dance for Janet

Janet Kinson's career in ballet spans five decades, both as a performer and nurturing the ambitions of hundreds of young Suffolk dancers

Janet Kinsons career in ballet spans five decades, both as a performer and nurturing the ambitions of hundreds of young Suffolk dancers

Anyone whos been to more than one event at which Suffolk Magazine photographer Peter Payn has been snapping away will probably have noticed that hes invariably accompanied by his wife and able assistant, Janet.

Shes there diligently taking names of those whove been snapped, irrepressibly cheerful, putting people at their ease and entering into the spirit of the occasion.

But what you might not know is that Janet has earned her own place in the spotlight as Janet Kinson, dancer with London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), one-time ballet school owner and, since 2004, assistant artistic director of the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain.

Throughout a busy life as performer, teacher, coach and mentor she has not only distinguished herself on the stage, but also nurtured the aspirations of hundreds of young hopefuls and helped one of her own sons, Jonathan, establish a brilliant ballet career.

Janet was born in Hertfordshire in 1943 and at the age of 16 won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet Upper School.

In 1963 she joined Walter Gores London Ballet, where she was a soloist, and for two years toured all over the country, including a first trip to Ipswich.

"They were 16-week tours and I never went home. I was living out of a suitcase, earning very little money and paying 2 10 shillings for digs."

But as a young woman Janet loved the life. The ballet company became her family and she is still in touch with friends from those early days.

When the company collapsed under financial pressure Janet moved on. A season at the London Palladium followed, along with

There were performances in this country too, at the Festival Hall and in Benjamin Brittens

In 1966 Janet met Peter, a student at Oxford University, whose parents in Newcastle provided digs for touring theatrical types. Peter was home for a week when Janet happened to be performing

Smitten by the young performer, Peter took himself off to the Theatre Royal to watch her on stage. "I saw

The couple were married in 1968 and moved to Ipswich a year later when Peter took up a teaching post at Northgate.

Janet made the difficult decision to give up ballet, but in 1970 set up the Janet Kinson School of Ballet, which ran for 23 years. Budding young dancers rolled up for lessons at St Mary at Stoke Church Hall and at Capel St Mary. Some went on to study under the Suffolk County Ballet Scholarship scheme, the brainchild of fellow teacher Pauline Dibb, who founded it with Janet and three other Ipswich teachers.

Many did their grade exams and entered the Mabel Ryan Awards of the Cecchetti Society, to which Janet was elected a fellow in 1984.

Pupils who won awards include Paul Egan (Deutsche Oper Ballet), Vincent Redmon (Birmingham Royal Ballet and Rambert Dance Company) and her own son Jonathan, first soloist with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Since 1986 Janet has been involved with the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain, first as choreographer, then ballet mistress and now assistant director.

Her work has been seen at some of the best known venues including the royal Albert Hall and the VE Celebrations in Hyde Park. She has also choreographed NYB charity performances at the Guildhall and Drapers Hall in London.

After a lifetime in ballet Janets enthusiasm is undimmed, especially as she and Peter now share their sons success. Indeed, one of the things shes most proud of is her role in nurturing young dancers.

And for all shes put into it, the rewards have been enormous. "The experiences Ive had from dance have been absolutely amazing," she says.

A Midsummer Nights Dream for ITV and touring with the London Festival Ballet. Gloriana at Snape Maltings, and a spell as assistant to the ballet master at Sadlers Wells,.Swan Lake in Newcastle, and was boarding at Peters parents home.Swan Lake four times in one week," he recalls. "And I knew nothing about ballet."

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