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Obituary: Sidonie Darrell – ‘Dancer who accompanied the leading stars of the day’

Sidonie Darrell

Sidonie Darrell – known as Sidi – made her stage debut at the age of three and went on to become a popular figure in the early years of television light entertainment when she and her eponymous troupe of dancers accompanied the leading stars of the day.

Born in Bristol the daughter of a GP father and a mother who taught ballroom dancing, she made her first appearance on stage at the city’s Hippodrome Theatre alongside a 15-year-old Deborah Kerr.

Aged six, she was among the first intake of pupils at the Cone Ripman School (which subsequently became Arts Educational Schools) and at 16 joined the company recently created by Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin that formed the genesis of English National Ballet.

In the early 1950s Darrell danced with the newly formed Ballet Eros and was seen in
West End revues and London’s leading clubs as well as supporting Norman Wisdom in the 1954 Royal Variety Show. A principal dancer with the Bristol Old Vic, she went on to appear in a number of West End shows including Jules Styne’s Bells Are Ringing (Coliseum, 1957), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Coliseum, 1958) and James Gilbert and Julian More’s The Golden Touch (Piccadilly Theatre, 1960).

Having moved into choreography, she worked with Julie Andrews on her 1959 television series, restaged Cinderella when it moved to the Adelphi Theatre and her own dance company were regular fixtures in live galas, summer seasons and on television. She danced in the opening sequence of the notoriously delayed opening night of BBC2 in 1964, when she was also seen in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, an adaptation of a stage production first seen at La Monnaie in Brussels in 1961.

After her children were born, she qualified as a dance teacher, directed amateur shows for a number of societies and, from 1985, had a long association with Southwold Summer Theatre appearing in Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds’ Salad Days and Richard Harris’ Stepping Out and choreographing numerous other shows.

Sidonie Darrell was born Gillian Veronica Matheson Bain on November 13, 1933 and died on November 15, 2018, aged 85. She is survived by two children from her marriage to the musical director Derek Scott.

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