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Article published in the March 2024 edition of the IDTA Dance International magazine

A Lifetime Achievement for: Mr Chris N. Clark, Principal of Majestic Dance.

I write this article as a longtime friend and colleague of Chris. I am also one of the teachers at his school.

Chris will be 80 years of age in January 2024 and continues to run the dance school, teaching classes and taking private lessons. He has been a Member of the IDTA for some years now and has been a keen advocate of the IDTA medal test system; he first started entering medallists at the Court School of Dancing in February 1964. During his sixty years running medal tests it is estimated that he has trained and entered some twenty thousand medaists.

He was recently interviewed (Autumn 2023) live on Coventry and Warwickshire Radio for commentary on ‘Strictly’ and the health benefits of ballroom dancing, in particular the benefits of dance as we get older. He will be doing something more focused with CWR on ageing and ballroom dance in the New Year. His moto being:

'You don’t stop dancing because you get old; you get old because you stop dancing!'

Having danced as a junior with a local school, Chris started as a part-time student at the Court School of Dancing in Epsom, Surrey. During this time, he was having lessons with Guy Howard in Penryn Road, Kingston, Jimmy Small in Sydenham, South London and Doris Lavelle in her studio in Greek Street, Soho, London.

After moving to Manchester as Manager of the Court School in Stretford Road he continued his personal dance development with Major Eric Hancox.

Having watched BBC’s “Come Dancing”, I decided to learn how to dance and went to Chris’s school in Leaminton Spa in 1976. There would be three medal tests a year and often took place all day, Saturday and Sunday with a queue that went down two flight of stairs and out onto the street. Back then, candidates would take both branches ballroom and Latin American at each test from bronze up to gold. That meant dancing 8 dances! It was tough in those days!

Over the years, like many other dance schools, there were many demonstrations at the School from dancing stars such as Bill and Bobby Irvin, Alan and Hazel Fletcher, Keith and Judy Clifton and in later years Shirley and Corky Ballas.

When I started teaching, I joined a hard working team and remember that alongside a full time job, I would be teaching Friday, Saturday and Sunday night and took private lessons on Saturday and Sundays during the day. It was almost a way of life rather than a job.

Chris has always run the school with a clear philosophy that a successful dance school needs to be able to make dancing fun and make sure the customers go home having achieved something. That way they will come back and once you nurture them from thereon, they will stay and become a loyal client often going through the medal system. Today, Chris would admit that is increasingly tough with some many interests that people have these days, but he continues to prove it is possible and indeed encourages many new people into doing a test even after 6 to 8 months.

What has made Chris’s dance school so successful over the years is the focus on nurturing beginners in a way that makes learning to dance easy and fun, for after all they are the bread and butter of success.

It almost goes without saying that requires good quality teachers who not only know their stuff but are a source of great encouragement and enthusiasm.

He advocates that we must not teach in a way that makes it difficult to learn. If anything, teach the technique in a way that people don’t realise they’re being taught technique. The technique is there to be gently woven into any session to make dancing and learning to dance easier and enjoyable not a relentless chore that is hard going!

I hope this has given you the reader an insight into what makes a good dance school or at least from some tried arid tested ideas and approaches. Having witnessed Chris teaching a class in slow foxtrot on a Tuesday night he once again reminded me that he is still a master at teaching a class - it was sheer joy. Thank you, Chris!

Chris has always been one for encouraging and inspiring people to achieve their dreams. I am personally indebted to him for inspiring me to become the professional and person I am today. Thank you again Chris!

Over the last decade he has researched and used the health benefits of Ballroom Dancing to promote and encourage more people to take up some form of Dance, over the years he has taught a group from a school for the blind and wheelchair dancing.

Supporting local Charities has always been an important aspect of his life that often goes un-noticed having has raised several thousand pounds over the years.

Finally, all the staff, students past and present and many who have become lifelong friends wish Chris all the very best in achieving such incredible success, and also a very happy 80th birthday in January 2024.

Paul V Ricketts,

PhD. Fellow IDTA. Fellow HEA.