THE country may be in lockdown, but a pair of Glasgow-based dance instructors at least managed to step out in style after their students struck gold at the WDC World Championships in Dublin before the coronavirus chaos enveloped the world.

Bas Willems, a 31-year-old Dutchman, and his Scottish partner, Jennifer Mcmillan, have run their Dance2Inspire classes across the city for the past four years.

And their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for getting Glasgow moving paid off on the Emerald Isle with four world titles across the age spectrum in a global championship featuring competitors from more than

70 different countries.

With the kind of flourishing birls and twirls that would have had Bruno Tonioli and the Strictly judges throwing up 10s in joyous abandon, Bas and Jennifer’s groups in the discipline of Synchronised Latin topped the order in the under-12s, the 16-28s, the over-30s and the over-50s.

It’s a real feather in the cap for Bas and Jennifer, who are professional dancers themselves and split their time between teaching and competing on the global circuit.

Bas said: “It was great to hear the Scottish national anthem played four times.

“It’s a brilliant achievement for the dancers who have put in a lot of hard work, and there’s a huge sense of personal satisfaction for us seeing our students thrive.

“To get the teams, we held an audition and we got so much interest we ended up with four teams. We thought we’d only get two. We got a bigger age variation than we expected. Our over-50s, for instance, were social dancers and had never competed before. This was a big achievement for them and they’ve turned into very competitive dancers.”

Scotland’s dancing history includes the well-kent names of Bill Irvine, a multiple world ballroom champion during the swinging 60s, and the decorated Hamilton dancer Donnie Burns, whose prolific run of success on the floor saw him undefeated in competitive outings for 20 years.

The endeavours and achievements of those two celebrated Scots played a big part in Bas and Jennifer’s drive to bring dancing back to the fore in a city that’s always liked to trip the light fantastic.

Bas added: “We wanted to give something back to the dancing community in Scotland. This country has some great history in dancing, with the likes of Bill and Donnie, and we wanted to build that up.

“Starting a dance school was a bit of a step into the unknown. We had never run a business before so it was trial and error to start with. We’re now averaging maybe 25 people at each of our nine weekly classes in the West End,

Newton Mearns and Pollokshaws. It’s going from strength to strength.”

The wider impact of Strictly Come Dancing, the long-running BBC hit show, has had spin-offs for Bas and Jennifer’s work.

“Strictly has been huge,” declared Bas. “Across dance schools you see a spike in interest when Strictly is on the TV.

“The big thing is that it gives dancing mainstream visibility and it gives a wide range of people encouragement. It’s been a major thing in the UK as a whole.

“We don’t have anything like that in the Netherlands so it’s been a huge attribute to this country.”

Bas added: “I think it also helps people’s confidence. It can be hard, for instance, to get men into dancing in general but I think the Strictly effect is helping.

“On Strictly you have young guys or even older guys who are popular celebrity figures and all that helps to take away the perception that guys shouldn’t dance.

“There are the old notions that guys should be playing football or something like that. That’s just not the case.”

Bas and Jennifer have been dance partners for seven years after meeting through an online dancing site.

“She flew over to the Netherlands for a try-out with me,” reflected Bas with a smile. “It was like a test drive with a new car. We enjoyed it very much and that was us.”

Having initially represented the Netherlands and then the UK on the dancing circuit, the duo now fly the Scottish flag on the world stage.

Their successful dance students are now carrying the saltire with gusto too. “The success they have had shows that Scotland can create some world champions,” said Bas.

Keep dancing…