YORK’S longest serving dance teacher, who helped home-grown talent become stars of the stage, has died at the age of 89.

Isobel Dunn, who ran York’s Isobel Dunn School of Dance for 65 years, died in York Hospital on Monday after battling dementia.

Beryl Bunn, who has known Miss Dunn for more than 50 years and been associated with the school for most of that time, says the loss of her lifelong friend had left her devastated.

“She was a special lady,” she said. “She was a true friend who saw me though some very difficult times and I hope I gave the support she needed too. She was a lady who commanded attention – she was tough, but got results.

“There are many dancers all over the world who are beside themselves at this news. People are devastated by her death.”

Miss Dunn, of Scarcroft Road, was born in York in 1923. Her father, who owned a grocery and off-licence in Lawrence Street, used to take his daughter to the SS Empire – now the Grand Opera House – where it was suggested she should audition for the Frances Laidler Sunbeams for the Leeds Theatre Royal pantomime at the age of 11.

She later won a scholarship to Queen Anne School in York, and then attended a dance school in the city started up by The Three Graces.

At 16, she joined John Tiller’s company in Leeds. After working as a nurse during the Second World War she continued her training to be a dance teacher and, on her return to York, she started to teach in the attic above the family shop. Latterly, her studio was above a shop in Market Street.

In 1944 she presented her first Dance Flash; 65 years later, in May 2009, her last show was held at the Grand Opera House and the dance school closed in December that year.

Her annual Dance Flash shows helped a wealth of good causes, raising thousands of pounds for Martin House Children’s Hospice and the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association.

Miss Dunn was made a life member of the Royal Academy of Dance, the International Dance Teachers’ Association and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance. Her many pupils included Michael Pink, now director of the Milwaukee Ballet Company; Joanna Frost, who runs a ballet school in Greece; TV and film actor Mark Addy, star of The Full Monty; and renowned dancer Twinnie-Lee Moore. Miss Dunn leaves sister-in-law Joan, nephew Roger and niece Catherine.

A funeral service will be arranged shortly.