Sally Sumner may be strict, but she believes it is the reason parents want their children to do ballet with her.
Sally Sumner was born in the Bahamas in 1958. Her father is half English and half Portuguese and her mother is English. She arrived in England in 1971.
Trained in classical ballet, modern, tap and character dance, she passed both IDTA Teaching Diplomas in Classical Ballet and Free Style Dance with distinction.
Touring and performing around England and the rest of Europe, Middle East and Bahamas, Sally enjoyed a successful dancing career.
Having a strong classical ballet base, she loved her career as a dancer, often performing leading dance roles.
When asked, she names Cancan as one of her favourite dances.
In 2015 Sally founded The Ballet Academy of Weybridge, where she is the director, choreographer and teacher.
She is very accomplished and professional in what she does. Having trained in The Royal Academy of Dance Style it is very important to her that she is now a mutually recognized teacher for Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), as well as a Qualified IDTA Teacher.
Sally, thank you for taking your time to talk to us.
As a founder and director, can you please tell us a little bit more about The Ballet Academy of Weybridge and what is the academy’s strongest point?
Firstly, we teach children from ages of two and a half and upwards, all the way to adults, including an over 60s group. The strongest point is that we are a community and I include all ages and all aspects of the community.
We keep very high standards by entering children for exams.
I am very strict and this is the difference. There are many schools, but I am aiming to give a little bit more. I take a holistic approach to teaching. I am aiming to develop my children in mind and body. Children need to be given correct expectations and the belief that they can achieve. I feel it is important that they experience some kind of achievement in every class. I insist on ballet buns and correct uniform in class as this type of personal grooming sets a sense of purpose for the discipline that is about to be undertaken.
The range of personal goals in my current students is very broad. Some are naturally gifted dancers who I push to achieve their full potential, others require ballet excercises that will help to correct certain physical weaknesses, while some wish to improve deportment and build confidence. I enjoy the challenge of seeing that each child’s needs are fulfilled.
My favourite words when I am teaching the little ones are:” Do not give up.”, but You have to be very thoughtful of their little psychology. They have to be in a safe place to fail in order to be able to grow. Everyone must be allowed to fail in order to grow.
This is a very big part of it.
I always say:” This is a very tricky step. Now we are going to try our best.”
My favourite saying is:” You are almost there. You almost did it.” and we have big celebrations about:” Being almost there.”
This is what Sally tells us about her teaching ethos:
Self-awareness, confidence, self discipline and personal expression…In my experience these are the things that make children happy, and in the future, will make them happy adults. Instilling these attributes in our children is my first priority. “Ballet” is my method. If we can develop the above qualities then we should be able to aspire to be the best that we can be. I call this “excellence” and I have set down the values of the school to reflect this.
Sally organizes shows every second year.
My last show was called:” The Fairy Dream”. I wrote the story for it and did all the choreography and it was a very hard work, but it was thrilling to see it all come together.
It took place at the Addlestone Community Centre and every single child was a fairy, because you know, how can you tell one child they are going to be a fairy and the other no.
I was even handed about it. It worked very nicely.
Sally tells us that both children and adults took part in the show.
To find out how to book classes that are run throughout the year for children or adults go to: www.theballetacademyweybridge.co.uk or call Sally on 078 81 38 48 33.
More about Your ballet classes:
Would you say that the discipline that you encourage towards dancing activities carry on into young and older pupils’ lives?
Absolutely, and I think this is well known and documented and that is why many parents are sending their children to me: for the discipline and you start young with that.
There are rules, there are ways to line up in the class, there is etiquette, there is a way to speak to the teacher, there is a way to speak to each other.
When they are on the diagonal they have to learn when there is a space to take their turn. There are all sorts of things to learn.
I do not allow them in the class if their hair is not done correctly.
I want to make it very clear, that I am very tough with them, but I am also very loving and at the end they come and jump on me.
They love their teacher.
Yes, and I love them, I love them.
I also like to use a strict voice with them, when I am teaching, because I am training them not to get too sensitive in later life.
It is delivered with love, but it is a strict voice and they know me, so they go past that and they cope quite well.
Sally, if money was not an object what would be your favourite project to do?
My favourite project would be to start an amateur ballet company in Weybridge.
With its own building?
Gosh, yes. I’d like the whole school to have its own building, and that is my dream.
Would you build from scratch?
Yes. If money was not an object I would have it all. State of the art, but at the moment if someone would just give me some land I’ll get a few porta cabins as studios on there and just get going, so I do not have to carry my ballet bars anymore.
Would you have a lot of peoples attending this beautiful school you would build?
I would have every single pupil in Weybridge, so we would not go anywhere else!