Bal­let still his love

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

When the Royal New Zealand Bal­let vis­ited Har­bourview Rest Home in Pa­pakowhai re­cently, they were un­wit­tingly per­form­ing for a bal­let vet­eran.

Res­i­dent Eric South­ern, 94, has worked as a bal­let pub­li­cist all his life, start­ing in his na­tive Eng­land and then in New Zealand af­ter he em­i­grated in 1950.

‘‘I be­came heav­ily in­volved in bal­let,’’ he says. ‘‘I was in pub­lic­ity, a PR man.’’

Mr South­ern has worked with some of bal­let’s lead­ing lights over the years, such as English bal­le­rina Dame Mar­got Fonteyn and Royal New Zealand Bal­let founder Poul Gnatt.

But it is vet­eran dancer Sir Jon Trim­mer he has had the most to do with. He re­mem­bers in par­tic­u­lar tak­ing a photo of Sir Jon in the 1950s, which showed the dancer in front of a mir­ror, cov­ered in paint.

‘‘He was very, very young,’’ he says of the now 72-year-old dancer.

Later, Mr South­ern even lived right by Sir Jon in Pukerua Bay: ‘‘We seem to have been fated to meet.’’

Asked when he stopped be­ing in­volved in bal­let, Mr South­ern replied: ‘‘ I’ve never re­ally stopped.’’

So it was with ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion he took a front-row seat for the bal­let com­pany’s visit to Har­bourview, where he has lived since Fe­bru­ary.

Dancers talked to res­i­dents about cos­tume and dance tech­niques, and Sir Jon gave a makeup demon­stra­tion.

The visit was part of a dancethemed week at the rest home, de­signed to get res­i­dents learn­ing about dance and even par­tic­i­pat­ing.

The home had vis­its from line dancers, belly dancers, ball­room dancers, con­tem­po­rary dancers and an In­dian dancer.

There was a field trip to see the Royal New Zealand Bal­let’s new Sleep­ing Beauty cos­tumes, and a disco where staff mem­bers dressed as Tina Turner. One of the Tinas, ad­min­is­tra­tor Liz Ab­bott, says the bal­let visit was a high­light of the week.

‘‘Not one of the res­i­dents fell asleep’’ she said, laugh­ing. ‘‘It was the cul­mi­na­tion of a re­ally good week.’’

Pas de deux: Eric South­ern and bal­let dancer Sir Jon Trim­mer seem fated to meet of­ten

in life.

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