Isabel told us how she started dancing by going to a weekly class in Sheen taken by Diana Vere, who had been a ballerina at Covent Garden in the 1970's. Michael Somes and Wendy Ellis came to the school to present the prizes. They liked Isabel’s work and told Diana Vere. Isabel was advised to try for a place at Elmhurst school.
Isabel was accepted by Elmhurst and stayed for four years. She found the curriculum there very enjoyable. Dance classes were varied; as well as classical ballet they were taught modern, tap and Spanish dance, drama classes were also part of the curriculum. The academic teaching was good and Isabel passed 11 GCSE’s. Isabel soon realised that it was ballet that she wanted to continue with. Alfreda Thorogood, at Elmhurst, had been, like Diana Vere, a ballerina with the Royal Ballet. She suggested Isabel apply for an audition for the Royal Ballet Upper School.
Isabel applied to the Upper School and was called for an audition, which she found very scary, however she must have done well as she was accepted as a student. After the years at the Elmhurst boarding school being at the Royal Ballet School meant she was able to live at home with her family. This helped to distance her from some of the atmosphere of intensity that happens when people are thrust together twenty four hours a day, although she did find the students who had come from White Lodge were welcoming to late entrants.
When asked which dancers who were in the Royal Ballet companies she had been at school with she named Martin Harvey, Sian Murphy and Vicky Hewitt in her year, Ben Gartside and Laura Morera had been in the year above. Victoria Marr had been at Elmhurst with her and went to the Royal Ballet School at the same time as her.