Jane Nicholas, OBE for services to dance, sadly died recently. Jane trained at Rambert School and was one of just six students to be evacuated to Yorkshire during the war, she went on to dance with Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet 1945-50 under the name Jane Shore and was a lead dancer in London’s West End sharing the stage with leading lights such as Tony Hancock, Dame Vera Lynn and Jimmy Edwards.
Jane was a stalwart for the sector and went on to become the first dance officer within the music department at ACGB. She campaigned for dance and persuaded the organisation that there needed to be a separate dance department becoming its first Director of Dance.
Jane was a font of knowledge and a formidable champion of the artform. She devoted her career to dance and advocated for ballet, dance and mime to be developed across the UK. She was a great supporter of regional dance companies, education departments within major companies and of the development of the animateur movement.
Her energy, drive, passion and vision for dance led her to commission a ten-year strategy for the artform which prompted the creation of dance agencies such as DanceEast, Dance City and Birmingham Dance Exchange. She was an active and enthusiastic membership of the Board of Birmingham Royal Ballet and vice chair of Dance UK, alongside Bob Lockyer as Chair.
During her retirement Jane volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Society helping people living with dementia to keep doing the things they love. Jane was famous for always driving a Vespa, and was rumoured to have lent it to Extemporary Dance to be part of their set for a piece in their rep called Naples. Jane was known to be great fun, a generous colleague and a kind friend and is remembered fondly by the sector for the enormous impact that she made to dance.
One Dance UK were honoured that Jane came along to our AGM at the Royal Opera House in December, still speaking up for dance in her late 80s!
You can read an obituary for Jane that was published recently in The Guardian here.