Tears for ‘amaz­ing woman, teacher and role model’

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News -

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

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