Dame Margot Fonteyn

There is a very slight and very tenuous link between the Ginner-Mawer School of Dance and Drama and one of the world’s greatest ever ballerinas – Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991).

Born in England, Margot was called Peggy Hookham (Peggy being a common derivative of Margaret), only later taking her stage name of Margot Fonteyn.  Peggy’s father worked for the British-American Tobacco Company and between 1927-1933 he was working in China, with his wife and daughter living there with him.

Peggy attended a school in Shanghai which was called either the Romer-Peeler School, or the Ruby Peeler School.  Either way, she learned to dance at an early age and could be seen in a variety of amateur shows in Shanghai in the early 1930s.

The very tenuous link comes from the news that in the early 1930s, at least one Ginner-Mawer Old Girl taught at the Ruby Peeler/Romer-Peeler School in Shanghai.  Now I don’t pretend to suggest that Ginner-Mawer taught Dame Margot everything that she knew, for indeed that was not the case; the young dancer took serious ballet lessons from a great teacher outside of the Ruby Peeler School.  However, it is sweet to think that the Ginner-Mawer Old Girl, Phyllis Goetzee, might have had some small influence on one of the most beautiful and dedicated and clever ballerinas that the world has ever seen – though of course, Phyllis would not have had even the slightest inkling of the fame that one of her young charges would later achieve.

(The Link, 1932, p.84 and Wikipedia and the website Visualising China https://visualisingchina.net/blog/2016/06/07/margot-fonteyn-in-china/)

Author: Janet Fizz Curtis

Janet Fizz Curtis is trained in the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement and is now writing a book about the life of Irene Mawer.

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