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Programme charts how Scottish Ballet helped Aberdeen youngsters make Jemma’s wish come true

Pic: Sally Jubb.
Pic: Sally Jubb.

A poignant television documentary will tell the story of an Aberdeen dance teacher who inspired scores of north-east youngsters to take to the floor.

Jemma McRae, who died of cancer aged 43 earlier this year, was head of the Academy Street Dance Studio.

Five Wishes will recall how her pupils joined forces with Scottish Ballet as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

The company invited people to make a wish they would help come true, with more than 100,000 votes cast by the general public.

Ms McRae’s idea of helping her pupils work with the national organisation was among those subsequently chosen by a judging panel that included Dame Darcey Bussell.

Scottish Ballet’s dancers collaborated with 85 students from the north-east studio to create a special five-minute celebration of Ms McRae’s work as a teacher.

The performance, which took place in April at the Beach Ballroom – the same venue where she had previously appeared as a Courage on the Catwalk model for Friends of Anchor – was marked by the youngsters wearing colourful shirts with the words “In memory of Jemma McRae” printed on the back.

Gillian Stuart, one of her long-term friends and a teacher at the studio, said: “The students gained so much from the experience and Jemma would be overjoyed to know that everyone had such an amazing time.

“The documentary will be a very emotional experience because it will show the last recorded footage of Jemma.

“But it’s great that her students will have the chance to see her on TV as it is something they can hold on to and treasure.”

Scottish Ballet’s chief executive and artistic director Christopher Hampson said: “Each wish has inspired the company in a way that we didn’t see possible.

“The individual stories behind them have not only moved us, but they have taught us more about ourselves and each other.

“We have had the opportunity to welcome each person into the Scottish Ballet family and thank them for their continued support.

“This journey has shown us the power of art and dance, not only in inspiring people, but in bringing them together.”​

Five Wishes will be broadcast on BBC1 on December 23 at 7pm.​

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