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Ruislip dance school celebrates 70 years

The dance school's 87-year-old founder said: “It’s quite an honour to have been able to do it for all those years"

Pupils at the school set to take part in the All England Dance Festival

A Ruislip dance school celebrated its 70th anniversary on Saturday (June 20).

Pupils past and present came together to mark 70 years of dance at the Maria Anderson School of Dance and Drama.

The occasion saw two special performances at the Hayes Beck Theatre with a surprise item by dance school alumni.

Founder Maria Anderson, 87, went from taking on a couple of pupils after the war aged just 17, to opening her very own studio, which prepares dancers for the West End.

She said: “It’s quite an honour to have been able to do it for all those years and it’s been a very successful school.

“I built my own studio because we were unable to carry on with the size we wanted to be at church halls, which were very nice at the time, but we needed somewhere of our own.

“Loads of children have stayed with me right through the school and have gone on to college because with us they can get their college qualifications.”

The purpose-built studio, in Elliott Avenue, Ruislip, has seen hundreds of pupils a year perform there and generations within families.

Through the generations: Maria Anderson (centre) her daughter Beverly Hague (left) and granddaughter Lisa Hague (right)

Patricia Napolitano, 62, is one of many successful pupils from the school, who went on to run her own studio in Australia.

She said: “I started dancing aged two, where most of the classes were at Windmill Hall and St Paul’s Church in Ruislip.

“It’s something beautiful, it’s been a life-long experience for me. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without dance.”

Pupils at the school can sit Royal Academy examinations, compete in national competitions and have gone on to have glittering careers in cabaret, teaching and performing in West End shows.

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