Ballet-dancing pensioner makes stage debut at 88

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The Independent Culture

An 88-year-old man will star in his first ballet production this weekend after started going to dancing lessons at the age of 79.

John Lowe, a former teacher, has been perfecting his pirouettes and pliés in preparation for his role as the woodcarver in Prokofiev's The Stone Flower.

The pensioner, who has 11 grandchildren, said: "I practise every day and I've got a rope that I use to pull my leg up higher.

"I'm lucky that I don't have any problem with the routines but that's because I exercise."

Mr Lowe started ballet nine years ago, after watching his daughter Alison become a professional dancer.

"My daughter was a wonderful dancer and was once asked to join the Stuttgart Ballet Company," he said. "So I was fascinated by by it. Dancing, painting, sculpture is all the same thing really. It's about an awareness of colour and shape."

Mr Lowe, of Witchford, Cambridgeshire, practises at home and at the Chequer Studio in Ely. "I think it's a wonderful thing to do and don't understand why more men don't do it," he said.

"There's nothing effeminate about it – you have to be incredibly fit to dance. I see these people crawling around, hunched over smoking a cigarette – they should be doing ballet.

"It's a wonderful feeling. I had always wanted to dance and it proves it's never too late to learn."

He will be appearing with the Lantern Dance Theatre Company at The Maltings in Ely tomorrow.

Helen Pettit, artistic director with the company, said: "John did the first steps well, but I didn't expect him to improve so dramatically, particularly in areas such as flexibility."