Gift made to Or­der

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By ROSANNA CANDLER

TWO days af­ter she passed away, Diana de Vos Beck says her best friend gave her one last gift: the Medal of the Or­der of Australia (OAM).

Clare­mont res­i­dent Mrs de Vos Beck met Les­lie Hutchinson when she was just 10 years old.

The in­sep­a­ra­ble pair shared a love of dance for more than six decades; they trained to­gether, both be­came prin­ci­pal dancers at West Aus­tralian Ballet, later taught dance and even moved to a cramped one-bed­room flat in Mel­bourne as teenagers to pur­sue their dreams of the stage.

Mrs de Vos Beck said she had no idea Mrs Hutchinson had nom­i­nated her for an OAM.

“I al­ways knew she was good at se­crets; she kept it a real sur­prise,” she said.

“We both had a pas­sion in dance and that re­ally kept our friend­ship alive and well.

“I would call her and she would say: ‘Oh I was just think­ing about you, I knew you were go­ing to call’. We grew up to­gether. But, more than that, she was just a lovely per­son. We have daugh­ters who are good friends. She is al­ways close.”

Mrs de Vos Beck was yes­ter­day awarded an OAM for her ser­vice to the per­form­ing arts, in­clud­ing her roles as an in­ter­na­tional ex­am­iner and life mem­ber at the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), Grad­u­ate Col­lege of Dance board mem­ber, WA Academy of Per­form­ing Arts tu­tor and membership sec­re­tary at the Friends of WA Ballet.

“Dance makes you feel ec­static, it is ab­so­lutely up­lift­ing,” she said.

“I get a huge kick out of watch­ing my stu­dents dance and see­ing their suc­cess.

“If you have not made some­body feel a heart flut­ter or tear, or just sheer ex­u­ber­ance from it… if that is not there, you’ve missed the point. The en­ergy, the in­put of emo­tion, you can­not dance with­out that.”

Although her life is filled with in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences such as danc­ing in front of the Queen at the open­ing of Syd­ney Opera House in 1973, Mrs de Vos Beck said she was most proud of the qui­eter mo­ments.

“My hus­band and I spent a year in Viet­nam in 2006, where I dis­cov­ered there was a vo­ca­tional dance school,” she said.

“I used to visit it of­ten and watch classes, and I joined up with a group of ex-pat women rais­ing money for dis­ad­van­taged Viet­namese chil­dren.”

Even af­ter so many years, Mrs de Vos Beck said she of­ten still held her breath dur­ing a fi­nal per­for­mance.

“I at­tended a com­pe­ti­tion and a woman be­hind me, I don’t know what I was do­ing, but she tapped me on the shoul­der and said: ‘Is that your son?’ and I said: ‘No, he’s my stu­dent’.

“She said: ‘My God, do you get as ner­vous as that with all your stu­dents?’”

Mrs de Vos Beck said the RAD 80th an­niver­sary Yes­ter­day, To­day and To­mor­row last month, ded­i­cated to Les­lie, was one of the first per­for­mances in her life she did not feel anx­ious.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d438798

Diana de Vos Beck has had a life­time in dance.

Les­lie Hutchinson (left) and Diana de Vos Beck in the 1960s.

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