A ballerina’s legacy

Carolyn Dickey practising her ballet positions in her home’s garden in Ōmokoroa. Photo: Brydie Thompson.

A year after her eldest child passed away, Carolyn Dickey is keeping her daughter’s memory alive through the beautiful dance of ballet.

The 78-year-old has danced her entire life, starting out on a small farm where she grew up in Waiuku.

“I have always loved to dance,” says Carolyn.

“To learn classical ballet as a child was unfortunately not possible, as there was no ballet teacher where I lived.”

Dairy dancing 

Yet this didn’t stop her from getting her groove on at the family dairy farm.

“Helping with the milking on the farm we would have a radio on in the cowshed so would often dance in between changing the cups; and better still when Rock‘n’Roll came in there were great poles to rock around,” says Carolyn.

It also helped having a pianist and ballroom dancing mum.

“Often the local lads would come to our home and mum would play the piano and we would help them with the different ballroom dances.”

Becoming a mother herself, Carolyn says she was a “ballet mother” to her daughters, Janine and Bronwyn.

“I would sit at their lessons and make notes then help them with their practices in preparation for exams and shows.”

Her eldest daughter Janine went on to become a jazz ballet teacher.

Sadly, she passed away early last year at age 54.

Ballet classes 

Now Carolyn has started taking ballet lessons for those 50-plus – and says it’s been a lovely thing to do in memory of Janine.

Ballet teacher Michelle Heyder and 78-year-old Carolyn Dickey. Photo: supplied.

“My ballet classes are bringing up special memories of my life with dance and my daughters’ ballet days, as it is exactly a year since we lost our elder daughter who so loved ballet and to dance.

"Janine was fairly tall and always carried herself tall. So I think ballet’s just such a lovely discipline and such a lovely thing to do.”

Ballet isn’t something Carolyn saw herself doing either.

“I didn’t know I would have the opportunity to learn ballet in my 78th year – especially as I have two artificial knees!”

Yet she doesn’t think her knees will be her biggest challenge when it comes to her ballet lessons.

“I think it will probably be being able to remember the steps…it’s a good bit of coordination.”

Carolyn says Michelle Heyder – her teacher of Over 50s Ballet Tauranga – assures her the class is for all women who love ballet, wish to dance, have fun.

“And we don’t have to be perfect!”

To find out more about Over 50’s Ballet classes, visit: https://ageconcerntauranga.org.nz/age-connect?occurrenceID=248740

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