ONE of Scotland's most respected art critics, The Herald's Mary Brennan, has been honoured with a prestigious prize at the National Dance Awards.

Ms Brennan, who has written about and reviewed dance and theatre for the newspaper for thirty years, won the Industry Award at the prize-giving for her contribution to dance and the dance world.

The critic said she had been "blind-sided" by the award, given by the UK Critics' Circle National Dance Awards, but said "it re-affirms that what we do [as arts writers] is important, that we are little candle in the corner."

The judges said that "as dance critic of The Herald, Mary has contributed significantly to the profile, development and discourse of dance in Scotland and internationally."

They said she was an "unsung hero" of dance as an art form.

They added: "Innumerable artist have praised her dance writing skills and insight, and her commitment and tireless support of dance and dance artist at all stages of their careers.

"Anita Clark, director of The Workroom, speaks for many of us when she says: 'Mary writes about dance with passion, with intellectual rigour, and she has championed many artists, choreographers and companies, and will fearlessly defend their right to experiment and take risks. Her writing has been vital in raising the public profile of dance.'"

Ms Brennan said: "Being given this award has actually left me speechless, which to those who know me will be quite a surprise, which given half a chance I can talk the hind legs off any national dance company.

"I really have found it very hard to express what this honour means to me,

"So many people across my career have opened doors for me, invited me in to share their inspiring creative journeys, and this has often been at vulnerable moments, when, for instance, a dancer is learning a new role - and really that should be a private practice - or when a choreographer is in a studio, fitting steps and ideas on the bodies that he or she has before them.

"I have taken their inviting of me in as a very generous sign of trust, and I value that trust and that sharing, because it has so enriched not only my work by me."

She added that dance "nourishes the soul".

"When I think on that, it makes me want to rush out, seize the world by the shoulders and shake it and say 'Look, go, see, it might well change you forever.'"

Elsewhere in the awards the best male dancer prize went to Liam Riddick, and the best female award went to Zenaida Yanowsky.

The outstanding company award went to the dancers of 42nd Street.

The best classical choreography prize went to Akram Khan’s Giselle for English National Ballet.