Fond farewell to dance teacher who provided ‘babes’ for Theatre Royal pantomimes

Charlotte Corbett's retirement from Central School of Dancing & Performing Arts.

Charlotte Corbett's retirement from Central School of Dancing & Performing Arts. - Credit: Charlotte Corbett

Thousands of children have passed through her dance school, and generations of theatre goers have seen her young charges steal the show at the annual Theatre Royal pantomime.

But now a much-loved dance teacher has brought down the final curtain on her career.

Charlotte Corbett grew up in Norwich and appeared on the Theatre Royal stage as a child, but later moved to London.

She returned to Norfolk to run the Central School of Dance and Performing Arts Norwich, where she has just completed 28 years.

Around 220 past students gathered for a surprise party earlier this month, with video messages from others working on Broadway and elsewhere around the world, and last Saturday about 50 children performed at her farewell prize-giving concert at Hellesdon High School.

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Ms Corbett, 59, said: 'It has been massively hard work, and that's why I am retiring, but it's extremely rewarding, and when I had my big party I sat like a child on the floor and saw what I had done over the years, literally.

'It all starts with a little girl or boy skipping through the door, wanting to have that in-the-classroom experience with the teacher, whether it's music, singing, acting or dancing.'

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Children from her school have starred in the Theatre Royal's pantomimes for more than 25 years.

Richard Gauntlett, writer, director and 'dame' for its pantomime, said: 'She teaches them everything. It is not just about the steps but also how to behave on stage. The students are a really nice bunch. They are very happy and friendly. She turns out a wonderful team.'

Claire Hills, whose daughter Lucie, 14, took part in the panto for eight years, said: 'She gives absolutely 150pc. She cares so much about the children. They are like the most important thing to her.'

As she departs the stage, and hands over to Adam Carpenter and Fern Wilkinson, what is Miss Charlotte's philosophy?

'I believe the theatre is the light to truth in our society, and allows children to have an opportunity to express themselves and use the arts to see into the future. The arts are really a way of looking forward at how society is developing.'

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