National honour for Nairn dance teacher
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A DANCE teacher who has tutored thousands of children over a period of more than 60 years has been given a prestigious accolade.
Elizabeth Fraser has had her service recognised by being made a life member of the United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dance (UKAPTD).
She has specialised in teaching Highland dancing, with her inspiration being her father Charles, who was a dancer in the Cameron Highlanders.
She took her first meaningful dance steps at the age of five when she learned the basics from her dad who later sent her to classes.
“It just took off from there and has been part of my life ever since,” said Elizabeth, who is now 81 years old and has been teaching since she was 16.
“I stopped for a short spell but the mums of some of the children asked me to come back and I’ve just kept going. The kids keep me young and I get a lot of pleasure seeing them progress.
“Some just want to come to classes and learn to dance. Some want to compete and some like to perform at ceilidhs and events.”
In a varied career Elizabeth, who runs classes in Nairn and Inverness, joined the UKAPTD in the late 1970s.
She has performed at the Empire Theatre in Inverness and is still organising dance competitions at the Nairn and Inverness Highland games.
Her husband Frankie is a well-known accordionist and with dancers and other entertainers they have organised ceilidhs and performed at different events and venues over many years.
“With Covid I’ve been busy for the past year gathering some of my old photographs to keep a record and it’s been quite amazing,” she said. “I’ve got pictures from the Alastair Gillies and Calum Kennedy shows at the Empire Theatre which were very popular in the the 1960s.”
Another highlight of her career has been watching her dancers perform at the Fort George military tattoos.
Her daughter Janie Fraser is a dance teacher and granddaughter Rebecca is a teacher and dancing judge.
As well as the Nairn and Inverness Highland games, Elizabeth’s pupils perform at the Glenurquhart Highland Games and have been starring at the Nairn Ceilidh Group summer ceilidhs for more than 30 years.
“The pupils start at a very young age and they put in a lot of work,” said Elizabeth, who lives in Inverness.
“It’s wonderful to see them progress and it’s good for them physically as well as mentally and they make lifelong friends through the dancing.”
Donald Wilson, chairman of Nairn Ceilidh Group, said: “It’s always a pleasure to have Elizabeth’s dancers at our ceilidhs.
“Apart from the Highland dancing they perform the sailor’s hornpipe, Irish jig and the polka. The kids love it and are always immaculately turned out and our audiences who come from all over the world just love watching them perform.
“Elizabeth jokes she’s clocking up the miles a bit but her enthusiasm is boundless. The award is richly deserved.”