Tribute to Gillian Page (1935–2018)
5 October 2019
Tribute by Lisa Maria Sawamura
Anyone who knew Mrs P, as she was always affectionately called, will remember her as a vibrant, tireless and determined lady who was passionate about dance and passed on this love to all her students. We, her students, were always encouraged to strive to achieve our goals and follow our dreams in all areas. Dance lessons with Mrs P were always so much more than that, frequently incorporating mini-lectures or practical classes on themes pertaining to the history of dance, and anatomy and physiology of the body. Mrs P was extremely knowledgeable on this subject, being a qualified nurse and stomatherapist in her ‘day job’.
This amazing lady ran her successful school, the Page-Mason School of Dance in Broadstairs, for over 50 years, and was especially proud of achieving her goal of having a full-time student course alongside the day school. She never stopped working, also attaining her MA degree when over 70 years of age, and advocating change where required, often despite her severe health issues. She inspired me and countless others to always persevere, even in the face of adversity.
Mrs P’s great love was ballet, and while she studied and taught the ISTD Imperial Ballet and Cecchetti, and Royal Academy methods, it was the Vaganova method and Russian ballet and folk dance in general that inspired her the most. I was lucky to be part of the first of several delegations to tour Russia with her, teaching and performing for two months, and gaining an eye-opening insight into the Russian people, their lives and dance styles, which are deeply intertwined.
I hope that in my own school, I can continue Mrs P’s legacy and nurture intelligent, ‘thinking’ dancers, widely experienced in their craft and able to apply their talents in a diverse way, and able to improvise and choreograph their own dances, as we were always encouraged to do. I also aspire to follow her example of creating that unique ‘second home’ feeling that was, and continues to be, her school, lovingly run by several of her capable ex-students. Mrs Page opened her school and her heart to all her students, never turning away a student from lack of financial means, and always herself personally caring in her own home for students from broken homes. This is the remarkable person she was and it has been my very great privilege to have studied and shared a personal bond with her. It is a great loss that she has been taken from us too soon.
"She inspired me and countless others to always persevere, even in the face of adversity"