‘Have a passion for it’: 100-year-old ballet master still teaching classes

Updated: Sep. 4, 2019 at 7:00 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Born in London, England, 100-year-old ballet master teacher Henry Danton has been around the world and graced the most prestigious of stages.

The international talent now lives in Mississippi and is sharing his royal training with the next generation of dancers.

He has performed with renowned dance companies across the UK, Europe, and South America.

Henry Danton is Mississippi Strong. “I’d like to pass on somehow what I’ve learned,” said Danton.

At 100-years-old, the Bedford, England, native is still working with dancers, currently passing on his wealth of knowledge to dancers at Belhaven University.

Danton left the Royal Military in his early 20′s. In the early 1940′s, just after 18 months of classical ballet training at the Royal Academy of Dancing, he became a ballet phenomenon.

The centenarian spent nearly a week at Belhaven working on "Frescoes" and a variation from "Swan Lake" for the Fall Dance Concert.

“I hope the dancers enjoy doing it because it is a fun number, and if it’s fun number for them, it’s gonna be a fun number for the audience,” said dancer and instructor Danton.

Danton seemingly never retired, transitioning from the stage to a decades long teaching career that includes Fokine School of Ballet, Ballet Arts, Carnegie Hall and Julliard.

He moved to Petal and began teaching in 2013.

“Make sure that that’s what you want to do and you have a passion for it,” said Danton, giving advice to up and coming dancers. “I think the most important thing if you want to be a professional dancer you have to have a passion for it. You have to want to do that and nothing else."

Belhaven ballet major Audrey Hammitt of Richmond, Virginia, is one of the dancers in the cast.

“The dance world is so small to have him living here and teaching young students their art of ballet," said Hammitt. “He talked about how when he started dancing when he was 21, after he was in the war, there weren’t that many dancers, but nowadays dance has become such a prolific thing.”

Belhaven’s Fall Dance Concert is November 8-9 and 15-16.

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