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Tributes to ‘inspirational’ Hampstead dance teacher Rona Hart who has passed away at the age of 88.

PUBLISHED: 17:55 13 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:17 14 October 2016

Rona Hart aged 21 from Burgh House exhibition

Rona Hart aged 21 from Burgh House exhibition

Archant

Much-loved dance teacher Rona Hart has passed away - just a week before her Hampstead dance school celebrates it 70th birthday.

Rona Hart in recent yearsRona Hart in recent years

A 70th birthday ceremony planned in the Rosslyn Hill Chapel next Sunday will now become a memorial tribute to Rona, 88, who died peacefully surrounded by family at her Suffolk home on Sunday.

Linzi Else, who now runs the Rona Hart School of Dance, in Willoughby Road, said: “We are very sad and the school’s 70th birthday event will now become a tribute to her life. Current pupils will put on performances in her memory.

“I loved everything about Rona but particularly her ethos. In her school it didn’t matter whether you were tall or small, whatever you may be you were encouraged.

“After my intense years of training at te Royal Ballet School, Rona made me realise tha dance could indeed be for everyone and she singlehandedly resurrected by own love of ballet.

Pupils from the Rona Hart school of dancePupils from the Rona Hart school of dance

“She was truly the most inspirational person I have ever met.”

Several years ago Burgh House ran an exhibition about Rona, who founded the school in 1946 at its present site in the Rosslyn Hill Chapel, where thousands of pupils, including Royal Ballet choreographer David Dawson and actress Helena Bonham-Carter, have taken their first ballet steps.

David Dawson, who was taught by Rona from the age of seven, said at the time of the exhibition in 2013: “I always loved to dance, for as long as I can remember I was constantly moving. It was in 1979 when my mother first brought me to the Rona Hart School of Dance. Miss Hart taught me my very first steps.

“I always remember her open, smiling face and that she always looked like a ballerina. I coudl feel that she cared deeply about every single student, nurturing them like a mother.

Rona Hart as a child courtesy of Burgh HouseRona Hart as a child courtesy of Burgh House

“I respected her so much for her knowledge and was inspired by her stories of her dancing days with Ballet Rambert.”

Rona was born in December 1927 in Uganda and her family left to move to Scotland and then Cornwall in 1939 when the Second World War broke out.

She said of her childhood: “I had a happy and joyfulchildhood during which I developed an aptitude for dance and a love of dressing up in a variety of costumes.”

This aptitude developed into a passion and Rona studied dance at the Ginner-Mawer school of dance and drama.

She then danced with the famous Ballet Rambert, ultimatley fulfilling her ambition to become a dance teacher.

During her career, Rona particularly championed the Greek style of dancing.

Former pupil Jane Singer said: “I have so many memories from my childhood going to ballet lessons and classical Greek dancing.

“She holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts.”

Ms Hart is survived by her husband George, 85, three children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

The memorial 70th birthday ceremony for the Rona Hart school of dance will be on Sunday at 11am at Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, in Rosslyn Hill.

If you would like to pay tribute to Rona contact emily.banks@archant.co.uk

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