Pollyanna Hope, lost her leg in an horrific bus crash in south west London in April 2007, when she was only two years old. Her mother Sarah lost a large part of her leg and tragically, Sarah’s mother Elizabeth was killed.
But the despite more than 14 surgeries and going through at least 25 prosthetic legs in her young life, Pollyanna, from Harpenden, Herts, is determined that her life-changing injuries will have no impact on her career.
“Asking me what dancing with only one leg is like, is like asking a two-legged person what it’s like dancing with two legs – I really couldn’t say if it’s different because it’s all I’ve ever known,” she says.
Her inspiration to be a dancer came from a desire to be able to lead a normal life – just like her peers. “I like being graceful and wanted to do the same things as my friends,” she says.
But there have been difficulties and having to dance on one leg, with her prosthetic, leaves her very tired. “The physical strain of it leaves me exhausted – but it always feels rewarding,” she says. “What I love about dance is that I’m always striving to do better, always trying to get things right. I remember joining a baby ballet class when I was little and thinking I looked pretty as a swan,” she says.
She adds: “I suppose there are some challenges, such as the leg that I use en pointe does not bend at the ankle, but it simply means I have to adapt.
“I’ve never had any negative reaction from anyone I’ve danced with, in fact everyone has been so encouraging. I definitely want to go into dance full-time as a professional.”
Pollyanna’s expectations are clear – she wants to “flourish and be happy – and keep dancing and improving”.
Already, she has made advances in the world of dance entirely on her own merits, winning places at the London Contemporary Dance School in September 2018, and the English National Ballet Youth Company in September 2021.
Her dancing has become even more advanced after a private company called Dorset Orthopaedic made a special en pointe ballet prosthesis, which she describes as ‘quite cool’.
She adds: “I would love to go on to train full time in dance and then hopefully join a ballet or contemporary company.”
Her advice to others is: “Go for it – there is no limit but what you think you can achieve. If you believe in yourself all else will follow.”