‘Every day I feel so proud of all the dancers’

113726-670_WCDI_KAREN_SR_19/10/11'Karen Ainsley (centre) from the Iris Barnes School of Dance with all her students who performed at the Grand Finals Disco Freestyle Competition in Guildford, winning many of the top prizes.''Picture:Steve Reid 113726-670
113726-670_WCDI_KAREN_SR_19/10/11'Karen Ainsley (centre) from the Iris Barnes School of Dance with all her students who performed at the Grand Finals Disco Freestyle Competition in Guildford, winning many of the top prizes.''Picture:Steve Reid 113726-670
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For the past 20 years, Karen Ainsley has watched children and adults alike take to the floor and dance their way to success.

It’s all in a day’s work for the 39-year-old, who owns Iris Barnes School of Dance, in Venture Tower, Fratton.

Karen and her team of six expert dance teachers train hundreds of budding dancers in the hope they’ll become professionals on the big stage.

Eleven days ago, Karen saw her team of five to 16-year-olds show off their moves at the Disco, Freestyle, and Rock and Roll National Grand Finals Day, at Guildford Spectrum.

The group of 30 competed against 500 other hopefuls across the country.

A total of 27 of the Portsmouth dancers came back with trophies as a result of coming first, second and third in a disco category and second, third, fourth and fifth for their rock and roll dances.

In the freestyle category Karen’s young dancers notched up first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth places.

Their hard-earned success came after competing in regional competitions in Portsmouth, Essex and Chippenham earlier this year.

From there the children qualified for Guildford after bagging first, second and third overall in numerous dance categories.

Despite seeing so many dancers pass through her doors, Karen’s love for the school, which has been running for 64 years, hasn’t changed.

Karen, from Laburnum Grove, North End, said: ‘I’ve been here for 20 years now, but that doesn’t stop me loving what I do.

‘Everyday I feel so proud of everyone. They work so hard and it’s great to see many of them reap the benefits.

‘The ultimate goal is to see every single one of them go on and do great things.’

Emma Green, 30, one of Karen’s former students, embarked on this year’s Wicked The Musical tour, whilst another, Laura Green, 28, recently began running her own musical theatre classes.

Many dancers from the Iris Barnes School of Dance, which holds classes four days a week, will also feature in the up-coming Kings Theatre panto Cinderella.

They will be joined by a star-studded cast featuring Coronation Street’s Tracy Shaw and Marcus Patrick from Hollyoaks.

Karen said: ‘I’ve always been fascinated with the world of dancing.

‘It’s like my second family here, you watch everyone grow up.’