Polly’s Story


I grew up dancing. I never analysed it, it was just what I did. In 1995, I went to London Contemporary Dance School, where under inspirational teachers such as Ronnie Emblem and Susan McGuire I matured as a dancer and focused in preparation for life as a professional. Later, as I approached the peak of my dance career, just as I was starting to experience what it truly felt like to be strong and capable, a niggling back injury erupted to the point of no return. My life and career came to an abrupt halt.

The bottom had fallen out of my world and I ran away from the scene. I made every attempt to build a new identity for myself. I travelled and forced myself to develop skills in other areas. I also became a mother.  And this meant I had everything I needed in place to never call myself a dancer again. I even went to the extreme on two occasions of denying that I had ever danced before. I wouldn’t watch dance on TV or go to the theatre, it gave me an ache deep in my heart that was too uncomfortable to endure.

As a new mother, I embraced the opportunity to become trained in a new profession and became very interested in health care. I trained as a Hearing & Balance Therapist and greatly enjoyed all of the opportunities it gave. Drawing in to and specialising in certain areas I became a lecturer for Bristol University teaching subjects surrounding the topics of Disability Equality, Identity and Wellbeing. It was an area that I became deeply passionate about despite my not being ready to locate precisely where this interest came from. It was a time in Britain that Disability Equality started to come in to law, where the country was expected to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in order to make sure that no matter who you were, nothing should stop you from doing what others do.

During this time I met some rather special people. Another mum and dance teacher recognised me from my LCDS days and in our small town, word spread. Within just a few months I was having conversations with dancers again. One of these dancers persuaded me to dance again. She showed me respect as a dancer, and created an opportunity for me to dance alongside her, as equals. It seems I was ready to dance again and Lucy was there to make sure I could.

It took seven years of denial and resisting dance to recover physically and mentally from the shock of stopping. Then, meeting the right person at the right time opened doors for me that I could never have guessed existed. Lucy introduced me to Gudrun Derrick (Royal Ballet School, Rambert School) who introduced me to Sara Mather (Rambert School) and the chain went on. And, the dancing began. The experience of being amongst like-minded people with a similar background in dance was a force too great to let go of. Very slowly our identities began to change and as we began to surface as dancers, 3rd Stage Dance Company was born.

Today, 3rd Stage is a rehabilitative, opening, nurturing and safe environment for dancers new and experienced to discover or re-immerse themselves in a love of dance. Just as I found that all my threads through life came together and made sense in 3rd Stage, so too do many of our dancers and students. The message is simple: if you want to dance, then you can dance.


In January 2018, after 10 years as 3SDC Artistic Director, Polly made the decision to take a step back from the company to pursue other ventures. The company is now led by Artistic Co-Directors Sara Mather and Luke Antysz. All of 3SDC and it’s supporters wish Polly all the best for her future.

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Company registration number: 9587398