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WALTER LAIRD

Walter William Laird (July 26, 1920 - May 30, 2002) played a major role in the development of Latin American dance in Great Britain after WWII. He was three times professional world champion in Latin dance. He has coached many successful dancers including Allan Tornsberg, Vibeke Toft, Espen Salberg, Jukka Haapalainen, Sirpa Suutari, Donnie Burns and Ian Waite. Peter Maxwell and Lynn Harman were among his first great champions and a couple upon whom much of his ultimate technique was developed. Laird was a member and examiner of IDTA, and until 2000 he was secretary (and later president) of the Federation of Ballroom Dancers.

Laird first danced with his sister Joan in the 1930s. His professional partner during and after the war was Andé Lyons (née Ashcroft, then Andé Tyrer). They met when Andé was sent to the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough as a stenographer. One day she took the dictation from Walter Laird, who was a scientist working there. At the end of the dictation, he asked her if she liked to dance.

The Laird-Lyons partnership was entirely a traditional ballroom dance. Laird did not switch to Latin until some time after the war. Laird's three World Championships (1962–1964) were in partnership with Lorraine Reynolds (now Rohdin), known professionally as "Lorraine". Walter later married Julie, who continues dance school in South London. One of Laird's greatest accomplishments was his Latin dance technique, first published in 1961; further editions in 1964, 1972, 1977, 1983, 1988, 2003. Initially, Laird followed the traditional descriptive format, but in 1972 he published the results of a major analysis of Latin dance and used a tabular form, including a column for 'action used' to help define. This edition was very influential and has since been accepted by many organizations of dance teachers as a definitive work.

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