Tears for ‘amazing woman, teacher and role model’
Heartfelt tributes have been paid to beloved Airdrie dance teacher Yvonne Clark, who sadly died this week aged 61.
She ran a hugely popular dance school in the town, teaching thousands of young people over several decades – with many going on to dance professionally and being inspired to open their own schools.
Yvonne put her pupils in the spotlight with much-anticipated sold-out shows at Sir John Wilson town hall each year, and trained numerous new dance teachers over the years by helping them to achieve their crucial associate qualifications.
A mum of three, she was also a well-respected examiner for ballet and theatre qualifications, and an executive council member of the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance (SDTA).
Hundreds of current and former pupils and dance colleagues have shared their fond memories of the inspirational teacher, stretching back throughout her long career and outlining her lasting impact on their lives and on dance in Scotland.
Yvonne took her first steps in dance as a child at the Janis Ridley school of dance in Coatbridge; and taught her first class in Caldercruix back in 1978.
Her growing school later moved to venues in Airdrie and Glenmavis before settling into dedicated premises at Clark Street in Airdrie, where she taught styles including tap, ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop and street dance.
Sister-in-law Audrey Clark, who has herself run her own dance school for three decades, said that Yvonne’s classes were “where my dancing career started” – having been one of her very first pupils.
Audrey said: “I joined Yvonne Clark School of Dance in Caldercruix when I was 10 years old, continued to Airdrie with her where I assisted her in her school, gaining my teaching qualification and continued to teach for her on a part-time basis.
“We parted after learning from the best to opening my own school in Cleland.
“For this, I thank her for her wisdom and guidance.”
She added of her own school’s postponed 30th anniversary display, which was due to have taken place this month but will now be staged next year: “It will be a celebration and a tribute to my mentor, Miss Yvonne Clark.”
Audrey told the Advertiser: “Yvonne must have taught thousands of pupils over the years – she had about 300 kids per week at all her different classes and went on to have pupils whose mums she’d taught previously.
“She began dancing herself as a wee girl and continued to get her teaching qualifications. Her very first show, which I was in, was at the old Glengowan Primary and then she went on to organise huge displays which would sell out the town hall for three nights in a row each year.
“Yvonne was still very much right in the midst of dance as an examiner, running adult classes and putting hundreds of new teachers through their associate exams.”
Known to her pupils as Miss Clark, Yvonne had been married for 42 years to childhood sweetheart Angus McCracken. The Airdrie couple have three children – Stuart, Callum and Lauren – and one grandchild.
A former pupil of Plains Primary and Caldervale High, she was also a talented artist, and last year staged an exhibition of her work at Sir John Wilson town hall in Airdrie.
News of Yvonne’s passing this week was shared “with great sadness” by the SDTA, who said: “Yvonne was much loved by the dancing community. We are truly devastated by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Coatbridge dance teacher Michelle Allan Connelly was among those replying to the post, saying: “Just awful news. A huge pillar to our local community and a big part of so many kids’ lives over many years – thoughts go out to her family at this heartbreaking time.”
Hannah Johnstone posted: “I am so grateful to have been taught [by] and get to know Miss Clark through the SDTA Higher dance – she always brought out the best in her pupils and inspired me to reach for the stars, in not just dance, but life itself.”
Carol Watson called Yvonne “a wonderful teacher who inspired lots of children”, while Clare Morgan described her as an “amazing woman, teacher and role model. She taught me so much and was a pleasure to be around”.
Many people with fond memories praised her teaching, advice and encouragement and yet more warm tributes honoured Yvonne’s kindness and personality, with several describing her as a “beautiful person, inside and out”.
Laura Marshall said: “Yvonne was one in a million. She taught me dance for many years and brought out the confidence in me – for that I will always be grateful.
“She was a gem of a woman. Rest in peace and continue to dance up there in the stars forever.”
Vicky Long added: “I was so sad to hear this news – Yvonne was my dance teacher for many years, starting from kids’ classes all the way through to working for her, teaching in her own studio.
“Yvonne was the catalyst for my own professional dance career from which I have had the most amazing life experiences, travel and lifelong friendships. She will be sadly missed.”
We are truly devastated by this news
Much loved Warm tributes have been paid to Airdrie dance teacher Yvonne Clark