Innerleithen Opera: Borders choreographer steps aside

AFTER nearly three decades of choreographing shows for Innerleithen and District Amateur Operatic Society, Anne Anderson has hung up her dancing shoes.

A member of the opera in her hometown of Hawick, Anne made the 50-mile round trip to teach the Innerleithen actors.

The 70-year-old choreographer, who amassed 27 shows with the Innerleithen Opera, crafted routines for performances in Hawick, Kelso and Galashiels.

Anne says she thinks her introduction to Innerleithen Opera was down to one of the town’s stalwarts, Keith Belleville.

“From what I can remember, Keith knew some of the members of Hawick Opera and at that time Innerleithen were looking for a choreographer, and it all materialised from there,” said Anne.

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For many years, she trained at the Manor School of Ballet in Galashiels, before dancing on stage at operatic shows in Hawick.

“I danced for a good number of years until it got to the stage where you think, all these young lasses are coming up, maybe it’s time I stopped,” said Anne.

“It was just a natural progression to go into choreography.”

Asked if there were any shows that stood out that she enjoyed choreographing, Anne said: “They were all unique and so much fun.

“Anything Goes was a wonderful show that involved getting the entire company tap dancing which was a bit of a challenge.

“Sister Act was a great favourite of mine – it was just a funny, happy show.”

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The incredible shows put on by Innerleithen Opera are made possible by the talented cast and dedicated crew, and speaking of those long rehearsals, she laughed: “A couple of weeks before a show, sometimes it got really intense if Brian [McGlasson, the producer/director] thought, ‘Wait and minute, this is just no’ quite right yet!’”

It might be her last dance with the St Ronan’s thespians, but Anne says it’s been “a great privilege”.

She added: “Everyone considers Innerleithen to be such a good company, the whole town seems to get involved, and to be able to do what I have for 27 years has been an honour.

“It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, to hang up the dancing shoes, but there comes a moment when you know it’s time to.

“I’ll miss the company and the people but I’ve made a lot of great friends in Innerleithen.

“We’re hoping to take the caravan up soon, so it’ll be a chance to see everyone again. I certainly won’t be disappearing for good!”

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Paying tribute to Anne, IDAOS president Pam Graham said: “Anne has been a much loved and vital member of the IDAOS production team for the past 27 shows.

“Year in and year out, Anne devoted herself to putting the tap and pizzazz into our productions, often teaching cast members who were ‘rhythmically challenged’ and this she did with kindness, patience and good humour.

“Living in Hawick, each winter Anne battled through bad weather to take rehearsals, hardly missing any in all those years.

“I know Anne will be missed by everyone in the society, cast and crew alike.”

As Innerleithen’s leading lady of dance takes her final bow after 27 years, she leaves behind dancing shoes that will be very hard to fill.

But the show must go on and Innerleithen Opera is now looking for a new choreographer to take the spotlight. Could it be you?

Anyone interested in applying for the post should contact: secretary@idaos.org.uk

Border Telegraph | News