Never tutu old for ballet: Mum, 48, excels in dance exam

Diane Hyslop who has taken up ballet dancing again. Picture: Greg Macvean
Diane Hyslop who has taken up ballet dancing again. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SHE had to imagine she was a fairy princess and perform ballet moves to test even the fittest teenager.

But mum-of-two Diane Hyslop, 48, who works part-time at a tax office when she’s not running her own beauty company, took the demands of the Royal Academy of Dance’s toughest ballet exam in her stride and passed with distinction.

One of only two pupils in her class to achieve the highest grade, Diane told the News she was “amazed” at her success after giving up ballet as a teen to concentrate on work and having a family.

She returned to her tutu eight years ago, taking classes at the Angela Watson School, and said keeping up with girls who were “young enough to be her daughters” brought plenty of challenges.

She said: “I was out of breath a few times during the exam. It would be physically demanding for anyone but particularly someone my age.

“It’s really something to get the distinction – particularly as they are very strict at the Royal Academy of Dance. I feel on top of the world.”

Diane said the exam’s difficulty lay not only in its physical demands.

She said: “Even after the barre work at the beginning of the exam, I was sweating. You have to stand in a ­certain way, you have to think about your arms and posture.

“Then you have the port-de-bras exercises, which are very soft, floating movements – a lot of control is required. Basically, you have to imagine that you are a fairy princess – that was really hard. I’m not a young girl any more, I’m a woman and to imagine that was tough.”

Diane, who lives with husband, John, 54, and children, Callum, 15, and Mhairi, ten, in Colinton, made her mark as a ballet dancer when she was in her teens studying at the Manor School in Corstorphine.

Her talent was such that her teachers encouraged her to audition for a place at London’s Contemporary Dance School, but the demands of work, marriage and having a family meant Diane’s ballet ambitions had to be left behind.

“I got caught up in work, then met my husband, got married and had children,” she said. “I had to forget about ballet after that, which was sad because I loved it.

“But then I was looking for a class to which I could take my daughter and asked the teacher, Angela Watson, if she did adult classes.

“No matter what age you are or whatever your ability, dance is definitely for ­everybody.”

Diane’s examiners paid tribute to her success.

RAD examiner Helen Gray said: “I was recently examining in Scotland and was delighted to see some mature candidates, clearly demonstrating their love of dance. In an exam, you are a real dancer, not a mum, or a librarian, or a science student – and it’s lovely to see their passion.”

When age is no barrier to achievememt

IT’S never too late to learn or discover something new.

Edinburgh grandmother Wilma Gibb, 60, pictured right, proved that when, after being petrified of water for most of her adult life following an incident at the beach near her childhood home in Fife, she began swimming lessons at the Warrender Centre in Marchmont.

And Craigmillar grandfather Douglas Lovatt provided another example of what’s possible when, at the age of 63 and having just completed an HND at Jewel & Esk Valley College, he began a computing degree at Napier University.

Further afield, Venezuelan salsa singer and band leader Oscar D’León, 69, hasn’t let age or a series of heart attacks get in the way of his performing career, and is set to wow audiences again at London’s Roundhouse venue next month.

And pensioner Raffaele Panicucci stunned the authorities in the town of Montemarciano, Italy, when he made his escape from a residential care home – at the age of 87.

The pensioner fled in the middle of the night in his electric wheelchair and tried to drive the contraption down a busy motorway.