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Richard Gleave OBE and CBE

Richard Gleave was born on the 13th of October 1943 in Burnham in Buckinghamshire. His father, William, was an engineer and his mother, Margaret, was from Wales. Music ran in the family; his brother was a very good pianist, and Richard developed into a very musical ballroom dancer.

At the age of eight, he entered the dance school in Slough near Burnham, learning Old Time first from his teacher Ada Unsworth. He still recalls how Ada taught him basic principles like how to use feet, stretch ankles, create a beautiful posture and use the standing leg. Soon after, he also continued learning Modern (now called Standard) from Ken Bateman and Blanche Ingle. Ken organized school trips to different competitions for young dancers and gradually introduced them to other teachers.

As a junior, he competed with Sheila Hamilton and later Marie Cavanagh, winning Juvenile and Junior Old Time four times and Standard (Modern) once.

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In the early sixties, Mr. Gleave started dancing with Janet Wade. Sydney Francis announced at one practice night that they were searching for a partner, and that's how they met and started dancing together. They became three-time Amateur Standard Blackpool Champions (1968-1970) and twice UK Open Amateur Standard Champions (1969-1970).

Their great inspirational teachers and role models were Bill and Bobbie Irvine and Len Scrivener.

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In 1970, they turned professional and already the next year in Blackpool, Richard and Janet Gleave were in the final and tied for third. It was very fast progress for the couple to achieve such a high ranking in a short time. I believe it was their musicality and the beautiful flow of their dancing.

They won several titles as professionals:

- 8-time World Professional Standard Champions (1973-1980)

- 8-time British Open Professional Standard Champions (1973-1978, 1980-1981)

- 7-time European Professional Standard Champions (1974-1980)

- 7-time UK Open Professional Standard Champions (1974-1978, 1980-1981)

Mr. Gleave retired in 1981 at the age of 38, which was early by the standards of the era. However, he continued to dance in shows, lecture and teach with Janet all around the world, from Japan to the USA and throughout Europe until 1989.

They received five Carl Alan Awards from 1969 to 1979. In total, Mr. Gleave won 54 major Championships. He also served on the committee of BDF for 20 years, six years as vice-chairman.

In 1994, he married Anne Lewis and started a family. Their daughter Clair, another artist in the family, will be 29 years old this October.

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In response to the banning of couples from International events in 2010, Mr. Gleave formed the Freedom to Dance movement, which has been a source of great support for young dancers all over the world.

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He received the prestigious title OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2013 and CBE (the honor of the Commander of the Order of The British Empire for Services to Dance) in 2020.

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To learn more about Mr. Gleave's innovations in ballroom dancing, his detailed analysis of movement and music structure, his teaching principles, hobbies and inspiration, you are invited to listen to our interview on Spotify, Barbara's Dance Room.