Photograph of former teacher pauline wadsworth in the studio teaching a class to students in the 1970s.

Pauline Wadsworth 1926-2020

We were sorry to hear of the recent death of former Sadlers Wells Ballet dancer and Royal Ballet School teacher, Pauline Wadsworth. 

She was much loved and admired by her many students and our thoughts are with her family.

About Pauline Wadsworth

Pauline was born on 26 July 1926 in Ponteland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She danced with Sadler’s Wells Ballet and then became Ballet Mistress at Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet. She worked at The Royal Ballet School from 1965 to 1987 as both a ballet teacher and Ballet Mistress.

Pauline taught generations of dancers and gave students a great grounding not only in classical ballet but in professional conduct. She took great pride in her students’ achievements, and always remembered her old students after they had left the School. She was a wonderful figure of continuity for so many dancers at both the School and The Royal Ballet.

Pauline taught our students Nureyev’s version of The Nutcracker from 1968, and subsequently Peter Wright’s versions continuing the School’s tradition of training young dancers for company productions.

For many young dancers, performing in The Nutcracker is their first experience of performing on stage alongside professional dancers. This is where students really learn what it is like to be a professional dancer in a company, and she was such a huge part of passing on those essential traditional stagecraft skills.

After retiring from her teaching career, Pauline herself appeared onstage in several Royal Ballet productions: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. She made the role as one of the Maiden Aunts in Act I of The Nutcracker her own, finally retiring from the stage in her late 80’s.

Pauline’s funeral took place on 20 August 2020. Lynn Wallis OBE, alumna, Royal Ballet dancer and Ballet Mistress at Upper School from 1969-1982, wrote ‘Dearest Pauline, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, special friend to so many, dancer and highly respected teacher who guided and inspired numerous young students over the years. We all have such wonderful memories of times spent with Pauline which we will cherish always.’

Pauline wadsworth, dorothea zaymes, and jean stokes in the corps de ballet dressing room at the royal opera house in costume as stars for cinderella.
Pauline Wadsworth, Dorothea Zaymes, and Jean Stokes in the Corps de Ballet Dressing Room at the Royal Opera House in costume as Stars for Cinderella. Roger Wood © ROH Collections