TWO much-loved Paisley dance teachers who have inspired generations of youngsters have waltzed off with a pair of prestigious industry awards.
Bonnie Barr was given the Freestyle Competitive Coach Award and Elma Whyte received the Theatre Teachers Award at the industry’s Carl Alan Awards.
Described as the Oscars of the dance world, the Carl Alan Awards have been running since 1953.
Among this years winners were ice skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who picked up the theatre choreographer award, putting Bonnie and Elma in prestigious company.
With more than 37 years of teaching in Paisley, Bonnie was delighted with her award.
She told the Paisley Daily Express: “The last time I won was in 1995 so it’s been 15 years.
“It was totally unexpected. I knew I’d been nominated, which was lovely, but I never expected to win.
“Two of the other teachers at the school were also nominated.It is quite unusual for these awards to have three nominations from the same school.
“Ashleigh Barr was in the freestyle teacher category and Tony Curley was nominated in the Freestyle Outstanding Services to Dance Award.
“It was just such a shock for me to win.”
Some dancers from Bonnie’s school, Dance Dreams, performed at the awards, which were held in the Lancaster London Hotel, hosted by Linda Lusardi and her husband Sam Kane.
There are three categories at the awards – theatre and ballroom, freestyle and latin and sequence.
In each dance discipline, there are five categories: performer, teacher, competitive coach/choreography, outstanding services to dance and lifetime achievement award.
One of Bonnie’s biggest success stories is 11-year-old Emily Crow, who made it through to the final of Sky1’s Got to Dance programme.
She, together with Ashleigh and Tony, coached the youngster to reach the top six of the telly programme.
She said: “Being involved in things like Emily’s success makes it all extra-special.”
Elma, who has run Elma Whyte School of Dance in Paisley for over 40 years, was delighted to win the theatre teachers award.
She told the Express: “I’ve never been nominated for a Carl Alan Award before so this was quite special.
“It was quite exciting and a lovely occasion.
“It was quite an honour to be nominated and receive something for all those years of work.
“It’s not something you can nominate yourself for. I don’t know who nominated me.
“I just got a letter to say I’d been nominated, then one to say I was in the shortlist.”
Elma, who went to the awards with her husband Jim, runs Shuffles on Incle Street, Paisley, which teaches ballet, modern, jazz and tap.
For the last few years, film crews from the BBC have visited the studio to film her young ballet dancers for children’s programme Boogie Babies and she has done choreography work for popular kids show, Balamory.
“I think it’s because of my BBC work that I won the award,” Elma said.
“I’ve also had successes with my dancers who have gone on to work with the Royal Ballet and set up their own dance studios.
“My daughter was very successful as a dancer in London for several years.
“The reward as a teacher is for your dancers to go on and be successful.
“And they all keep in touch. We’re still one big family, which is lovely.”
A spokesperson for the International Dance Teachers Association said: “From the many nominations received, the selection committees are asked to short-list up to three nominees in each category.
“To be nominated for a Carl Alan Award by your peers reflects the nominee’s considerable contribution to the world of dance.
“IDTA would like to congratulate all the nominees but unfortunately there can only be one winner in each category.”