A VETERAN dance teacher from South Tyneside has spoken of her delight after receiving a prestigious award from the Royal Academy of Dance.
Kathleen Burdon, who has taught ballet for more than 50 years and run her own school since 1960, travelled to London to collect the President’s Award from the academy and said it was “one of the best days” of her life.
Ms Burdon, from Hemsley Road, South Shields, is principal of the Kathleen Burdon School of Ballet and was chosen for the honour because of her dedication “over and above the call of duty” to dance.
Ms Burdon says she was shocked to receive an award for something she loves doing.
She said: “I love teaching ballet. It has been my life.
“It was a wonderful surprise to get this award and it is for something I love to do. I was absolutely overjoyed and it was a complete surprise.
“The day I received the award was one of the best days of my life.”
Ms Burdon’s ballet school is based at Laygate Community School in Laygate Lane, South Shields.
She has enjoyed a long and distinguished career after she was first introduced to the discipline by her elder brother.
Ms Burdon started with tap dancing classes, but was persuaded to take up ballet and trained by Nora Lycette Fearn.
She qualified as a registered teacher with the academy and started teaching ballet while still a teenager.
And after more than 50 years of teaching, she is ready for more.
She said: “It is such a rewarding thing to teach ballet and I hope to continue as long as I am able to. I have no immediate plans for retirement.
“I have always said that when the time comes that I feel like I don’t want to go out and teach, I will have reached the end.”
Miss Burdon teaches six nights a week and has seen her school blossom over the years.
She started in 1960 with just 14 pupils but now has 120 boys, girls and adults under her stewardship.
Many of her past pupils have successfully auditioned for vocational schools including the Royal Ballet School, and others have gone on to dance professionally both at home and abroad.
She is proud of two former pupils, in particular.
Kathleen said: “Ruth Robinson, who danced with the Scottish ballet for many years.
“Also, Linda Dixon went on to become a professional ballet dancer and is now an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance and teaches at a vocational school in the south.”