Leeds Dance Couple Waltz Away With Prestigeous Award

Leeds ballroom dance professionals, Steven Shaw and Helen Blackburn, from the Enjoy Dancing Leeds school, waltzed away recently with a prestigious Carl Alan award. Held at the Copthorne Hotel near Gatwick, the event attracted dancers and professionals from around the world.  

The award dubbed “the Oscar of the dance world” was first presented in 1953 by the Mecca Entertainment Company, owners of the largest national network of dance halls in Britain at this time. Awards are presented in three categories- Freestyle dance, Theatre dance, and Ballroom, Latin and Sequence dance for outstanding services to dance, choreography, teachers, performers and lifetime achievement. Notable winners over the years include Darcey Bussell, Bruce Forsyth, Lesley Garrett, Wayne Sleep, Torvill and Dean, and Len Goodman.

The award won by Steven and Helen recognises their contribution to sequence dancing and their outstanding achievements within dancing. They have been involved with competitive sequence dancing since the age of 10 and have competed professionally together since 1999.

During their successful career they have achieved a number of accolades including winning the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival Best Original Sequence Dance title a record 13 times and in 2004 they became only the second couple in the festival’s history to win all three inventive dance sections. In 2008 the pair won the highest number of new dance competitions in one year, with 15 and have choreographed winning dances in all syllabus rhythms. The BDC Sequence Advisory Committee and national dance associations have selected Steven and Helen’s dances for championship and medallist events, and two of their most recognised dances are the Saunter Shiraz and Tayside Tango. The dancing duo have choreographed an impressive 103 winning new dances.

They are championship adjudicators in all three branches and Helen is a classical sequence Fellow. Both work tirelessly to share their knowledge of sequence dancing and Helen also writes the Sequence pages for ‘Dance Today’ magazine, positively promoting sequence dancing to a wider audience. Together they created the MSD World website and MSD Facebook page to reach out to new dancers and teachers worldwide. Steven and Helen actively encourage new talent within the inventive dance scene and have worked with musicians Jon Canning, Tony Gilbert and Richard Keeling on CD’s.

On winning, Helen said, “We were delighted to win this award after so many years of hard work and dedication and to be recognised by your peers feels really special. There has been a real interest in dancing since ‘Strictly’ arrived on our TV’s and maybe now it’s time to retire from competitions and pass on some of our knowledge to new dancers”

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