The 1920s was a busy and formative decade for the young Noreen. She continued with her ballet training with the much admired Edouard Espinosa at his British Normal School of Dancing at Woolborough House in Lonsdale Road, London (later to become the headquarters of the British Ballet Organisation under his son Edward). An interesting footnote here is that Edouard's nephew, Geoffrey, married Bridget Kelly (she had danced with the Lake-Kemp Embassy Ballet in 1947) who, as Bridget 'Biddy' Espinosa, after leaving Elmhurst School, became Artistic Director at Bush Davies, Charters Towers, in the mid-1970s (see Charters Part Two). She then went on to establish her own successful school, London Studio Centre, with her son Nicholas Espinosa and his wife Nikki, a former Bush Davies student.
Noreen subsequently taught ballet during the day at Woolborough House whilst appearing in stage productions at the Gaiety and Daly's Theatres in the evenings alongside such stars as José Collins and Evelyn Laye. It was at Espinosa's studio that Noreen, many years later, recalled receiving an urgent plea from Ninette de Valois for help, "She was suddenly having lots of problems with her turns and asked me to sort out her pirouettes and fouettés."
Edouard Espinosa, along with Phyllis Bedells, Tamara Kasarvina, Adeline Genée and Phillip Richardson from The Dancing Times periodical, founded the Association of Operatic (i.e. ballet) Dancing in 1920, later to become the Royal Academy of Dancing (1935). Phyllis Bedells remembers, "In the early autumn of 1923, at the new premises at Holland Park Avenue, we held examinations for Advanced Executants and Noreen was one of only five to pass that exacting test. I always remember her petite figure and lovely legs and feet with very high insteps." She passed her Solo Seal examination in 1928, the year it was introduced. The candidates had to dance a 'purely operatic solo arranged by herself to music of her own selection, a character or demi-caractère dance, and an impromptu variation set by the judges'.
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