jean-beckley chairpersonThere has seldom been any period in Jean’s life that has not revolved around ‘DANCE’, even when scoring cricket games or watching test matches!

Her ballet training was for the most part with the doyen – Marjorie Sturman – and she holds a Solo Seal from the Royal Academy of Dance. High school years were in Cape Town, where Jean added Classical Greek Dance and Spanish Dance to her training and later attained the status of Fellow and major examiner of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance – Classical Greek Dance Faculty. Aside from her private studio she taught Classical Greek Dance at both the National School of the Arts (formerly Art, Ballet Drama & Music School) and Pro Arte Alphen Park, Pretoria. While overseas, after matriculating, Jean was privileged to have taken classes with renowned teachers, among whom were former Russian ballerinas Thamar Karsavina for Mime, Lydia Sokolova for Character work and the diminutive Olga Preobrazhenskaya in Paris – 90 years of age at the time with a sharp eye and a sharp brain! She was a soloist with Festival Ballet under the direction of Marjorie Sturman, performing roles in classical repertoire. A highlight in her career was dancing the role of ‘Big Swans’ in Act II of Swan Lake when Dame Margot Fonteyn and Michael Soames were visiting guest artists in the production at His Majesty’s Theatre, and she also danced the role of Taglioni in the 1845 Pas de Quartre in the same season.

Jean was a founder member of Johannesburg City Ballet (forerunner to PACT) and also performed with the Mercedes Molina Spanish Dance Company.

Now retired from formal teaching, the outlet for her creative instincts has moved from choreography to ceramics, but still having the same passion for the latter as she had for the former.

After 20 years as Artistic Director of Johannesburg Youth Ballet, Jean relinquished the reins and took on the position of chairperson. She is a founding member of the National Society of Dance Teachers, and serves as a Trustee for the NSDT Bursary Trust.