“Tutu Mum,” Ensign, Aug. 1991, 68–69
By the age of eight, Elizabeth Jane Roberts had exhibited promise as a ballerina. Two years later, she was offered a place at the Royal Ballet School in London, England. Elizabeth’s acceptance of this offer meant six years of full-time study at the Lower School, then work at the Upper School, where she associated with prominent ballerinas such as Dame Margot Fonteyn and Dame Alicia Markova.
But her hopes for a career in dancing were dashed when she discovered, in her late teens, a congenital deformity in her back. Fortunately for Elizabeth, the Royal Ballet’s Dame Ninette de Valois had just begun a series of lectures on teaching ballet. Elizabeth became one of the first six students to earn the Royal Ballet’s Diploma for Teaching.
It was while Elizabeth was struggling to support herself as a dance teacher in London that she spent two weeks in the north of England with her sister, Anne. The visit brought Elizabeth into contact with the Church.
Anne had just joined the Church and in her newfound zeal invited the missionaries to teach Elizabeth every morning and every afternoon.
“I’d been looking for the truth for a long time,” recalls Elizabeth. “I was overwhelmed, but the total reassurance I received was wonderful. Before accepting baptism, though, I determined to read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end to find out for myself that what I’d been taught was true.”
After her baptism, Elizabeth continued to perform and teach, and she moved into the Hyde Park Ward in London. It was there that she met and later married Boris Roberts. They are the parents of one daughter and five sons.
“After marriage, I was grateful that my back trouble had moved me toward teaching,” says Elizabeth. “This has proven to be important for our family through the years.” She has been glad that her teaching has brought the cultural refinement of dance and fine music to her own and to other children.
At one stage, Elizabeth was invited to teach ballet at BYU. “I had to decide prayerfully what the Lord wanted me to do,” she remembers. “I knew we wanted more children, and I felt very strongly that we were needed in England, so I turned down the tempting offer. I feel we have been blessed for that decision.” Since then, she and her husband have served in many Church positions, including Boris’s calling as Liverpool stake president for seven years.
“As lovely as ballet may be,” she continues, “I believe home and Church responsibilities take priority over a career.”
At home in the Bracknell Ward, west of London, Elizabeth chairs the activities committee, emphasizing the cultural arts and talent development. She has danced, acted in, choreographed, and produced a variety of musical dramas.
“My only homemaking skill when I was first married was budgeting,” she admits with a smile. “Now, because of experiences in Relief Society, I feel competent in many other areas. But my husband and children are still better cooks than I.”
Elizabeth’s ambition when her children are grown is to take up an offer to be an examiner with the Royal Ballet School. “I strongly believe in the importance of personal communication with our Heavenly Father to seek how and when we use the talents we are given,” she says. “If we follow these promptings, then He can use us to build both ourselves and the kingdom.”—Anne Bradshaw, Sutton Coldfield, England