Ashely Page

Where did you go to school?

Byron Road and St Andrew’s primaries in Kent. Between nine and 11, the whole dance thing started happening. I’d gone to dancing school age four, then done all the Sunshine dancing competitions and the Royal Academy of Dancing exams. A summer school at the Legat School resulted in my being offered a six-year scholarship to learn dance. I also went for an audition to the Royal Ballet School at White Lodge, Richmond, was accepted, and went there aged 12 in 1968 because the man who’d offered the Legat scholarship died.

Did you like it?

I had a hideous time at White Lodge. I was really looking forward to boarding school but was a very young 12-year-old who went into a class of boys more worldly-wise than I. Eventually, I did quite enjoy White Lodge - the grounds are in Richmond Park so summers were very nice - and made some friends who I still have.

Did you get into trouble?

I was quite boring, and too frightened of getting chucked out of White Lodge, where you were tightly controlled. My parents would never have forgiven me.

What subjects were you good at?

I loved English language, comprehension, spelling. And music. I wish I’d kept at the piano but I had a cow of a piano teacher.

College or university?

In my final year at Baron’s Court, I decided to relax and learn as much as I could then try to get a job in another company and suddenly, everything changed. I grew. All the other people who were doing well suddenly got injured or fell by the wayside, and I steamed through, getting two nice roles in the school performance. I went into "Ballet For All" for a year, and into the Royal Ballet company in 1976.

Did you have a favourite teacher?

At the Royal Ballet School, the thing that really saved me was a teacher called Piers Beaumont, a dancer who’d been injured and given up quite early. He completely turned my head around about it all in that crucial last year.

What do you wish you had learned at school but were not taught?

To speak and read two or three languages.

What is the single most important lesson you have learned outside formal education?

Along the road, I’ve come across four or five people who’ve nudged me in the right direction when I was starting to wander. So you should recognise when you find someone whom you communicate with and soak it up as much as you can.

Ashley Page is artistic director of Scottish Ballet. To commemorate the centenary of the birth of George Balanchine in St Petersburg, Scottish Ballet will be performing The Four Temperaments at Edinburgh Festival Theatre until Saturday, then in Inverness between 29 April and 1 May.

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