By Sheree Hoddinett
Mandy Noble is graceful, elegant, and very composed, combined with a mixture of humbleness about life in the spotlight and growing up in the buzz of an entertainment family. As the daughter of performer-comedian Buster Noble and performer/dance teacher Helen de Paul and little sister to performer/singer/dancer/actress Trisha (Patsy Ann) Noble, Mandy was destined to spend a part of life on the stage. But it’s her love and passion for dance that has held the biggest piece of her heart for many years and what would eventually lead to her teaching at Bribie’s own University of the Third Age (U3A).
Her foray into the world of dance started at the tender age of five, in her mother’s very own studio. Life changed pace for the entire family when they made the decision to move overseas in the early 1960s for Trisha to pursue her career. But on their return to Australia in 1968, Mandy’s mother reopened her studio, and she continued her training in tap, ballet, and jazz. When she was 16, Mandy joined her father in a song/dance/comedy act which toured the New South Wales club circuit. She looked upon it as her ‘training’.
“I’m from an entertaining family,” she said. “I was never going to be allowed to do anything but go into show business because that was the path I was always going to follow. I did have the thought of going to do something else. And in my life, I did do other things, but I always came back to it. It has been an amazing life full of amazing opportunities and experiences.”
When Mandy finished high school, she and some girlfriends danced on cruise ships which she describes as ‘a fabulous time in her life’. She was then fortunate enough to tour with Johnny O’Keefe before auditioning and joining Reg Livermore’s Wonderwoman. She also had the opportunity to appear at theatre restaurants the Neutral Bay Music Hall and The Manly Music Loft, as well as tackling some television commercials, before deciding to join her mum in her dance studio to complete all of her teaching credentials. This would eventually lead to Mandy becoming a dance examiner with the Australasian Dance Association (ADA, formerly FTAD).
In 2019, Mandy decided it was time to retire from ADA and she and her husband made the decision to leave Sydney and settle on Bribie Island. It would seem the life of dance had not entirely left her system and Mandy began her search to participate in adult tap dance classes. She discovered U3A and joined. Mandy settled into classes and after a few weeks, she was asked to choreograph a routine and later to teach. Now, she teaches five classes, three days a week in jazz, tap and ballet.
“U3A is such a fantastic organisation,” Mandy said. “I had no intention of teaching, but it just happened. I started with the tap class and then I was asked to teach the jazz dance classes and then I was approached by some of the ladies to start an adult ballet class. I’d never taught senior ballet, so I worked on a syllabus that would suit these ladies. The ballet is very popular, and they love it! The first day I went to teach I had my little black skirt on, so about three to four weeks later most of the ladies in the class had their own as well.”
The classes are all taught on a voluntary basis and provide Mandy with the opportunity to give back to the community.
“Being in the entertainment industry, they’re very big on charity and giving back and it was a very important concept to my parents as well,” Mandy said. “As kids we would always do charity shows. So, when I found out U3A was a voluntary organisation, I thought it was perfect and my way of giving back.”
With so many fond stories to share, Mandy admits it’s a little difficult now that her parents and sister have all passed on, but she’s grateful for the time she had with them.
“Very sadly my sister passed away last year. She had been ill for about 18 months,” Mandy said. “It was sad to see her get so sick. She was the most beautiful singer and loved what she did. I really looked up to Trisha and my mum, they were a great inspiration to me. For mum, everything she touched turned to gold. She was just one of those people. When we came home from England in the late 1960s via ship, that was a six-week trip, Mum choreographed all the shows on that trip, just because she could. She was also one of those people, if she was in a room, she was the centre of the world, people just gravitated towards her. Trish and I were quite private and introverted in our own way. If I’m teaching a class, I’m focused on that but otherwise I keep to myself. But mum, she was very extroverted, and dad was pretty much the same. You’d open the fridge door and he’d start his act. My dad was very funny, he was a natural, he was meant to be a performer.”
Life has certainly been fulfilling for Mandy. She’s seen lots of the world over the years because of her own talent, family background, her sister’s performances and also undertaken many motorbike trips with her husband, to the likes of Tasmania, New Zealand, Morocco, Turkey, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. She now proudly calls Bribie home and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We drove across the bridge, and we thought it was beautiful and clean,” she said. “We were just amazed at how well the Island was looked after, the welcoming from others, it really is an amazing place to be.”