Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year! Christmas is over. Now if you want to work off those Mince Pies .....

KNT Dancworks Manchester: Ailsa Baker, Josh Moss and Karen Sant
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I was 63 when I took up ballet. Save for a few classes when I was an undergraduate at St Andrews in the early 1970s I had no experience of ballet. My first classes were at The Base in Huddersfield. They were not easy because I was the oldest member by several decades but we had a good teacher and I persevered. In September 2013 I joined Northern Ballet's Over 55 class where all the other students were about my age. That was one of the best decisions I ever took in my life. We have an excellent teacher in Annemarie Donoghue and the other students are lovely. Here is what I wrote after my first class with Annemarie: Realizing a Dream 12 Sept 2013.

My classes with Annemarie gave me sufficient confidence to try classes with other teachers. I tried Adam Pudney's class at Pineapple which I enjoyed tremendously (see Pineapple 20 Nov 2013 and Another Slice of Pineapple 12 July 2015). I took classes with Christopher Hinton-Lewis (see It's an Ill Wind - Review of Northern Ballet's Beginner's Class 6 Dec 2013) and Elizabeth Rae and attend regulalry Jane Tucker's class at the Northern Ballet Academy. I have appeared in the Academy's end of term shows (see The Time of My Life 28 June 2014 and My Second Ballet 5 July 2015) which we even took or tour to Morley (see Growing Old Disgracefully in Morley 28 Sept 2015). I ventured south to Sheffield (see More than just Hype - Beginners and Improvers Classes in Sheffield 14 May 2014), across the Pennines (see So Proud of Manchester - KNT Danceworks Complete Beginners Class 29 Aug 2014) and I even found myself dancing in the ballroom of Liverpool Town Hall (see It's not every Class that you can use Lord Canning's Eyes for Spotting 9 Sept 2014).

My favourite dance studio is KNT' in Manchester. Classes take place in the studios of the Northern Ballet School on Oxford Road.  There are some great teachers as you can see in the video and I have yet to meet kinder or more supportive classmates. There are classes in all sorts of dance every day of the week except Sunday (see Adult Dance Class Timetable). Last Summer I attended Jane Tucker's Swan Lake intensive and enjoyed it tremendously (see KNT's Beginners' Adult Ballet Intensive - Swan Lake: Day 1 18 Aug 2015, KNT's Beginners' Adult Ballet Intensive - Swan Lake: Day 2 19 Aug 2015 and KNT's Beginners' Adult Ballet Intensive - Swan Lake: Day 3 20 Aug 2915). KNT are presenting a show on 30 Jan 2016 and I am in it. :-)

Another good class that I have discovered very recently is Katie Geddes's at Dance Studio Leeds (see Dance Studio Leeds Beginners' Ballet Class 23 Oct 2015). Again, there is a great teacher and some lovely people in the class. Katie organized a delightful Christmas party on 4 Dec 2015 and a trip to Northern Ballet's The Nutcracker on 18 Dec 2015 (see Northern Nutcracker 19 Dec 2015). One of the delights of just about any dance class is the opportunity to meet interesting new people in all walks of life and I have made some great friendships through ballet.

So this is how I spend my week.  On Mondays I go to the beginners' class at Dance Studio Leeds between 1945 and 21:15. On Tuesday's I attend Karen Sant's beginners' class at KNT in Manchester from 18:30 to 19:30. On Wednesday I attend Jane Tucker's improvers' class at Northern Ballet between 19:00 and 20:15. That is a particularly challenging but also very worthwhile class because if you aim for the stars you may actually clear the bar. On Thursday's I attend Annemarie Donoghue's over 55 improvers class at Northern Ballet between 11:00 and 12:15 which is also pretty stretching. If I miss a class earlier in the week for any reason I cross the Pennines for Sarah Butler's beginner's class at KNT between 18:30 and 19:30 on Friday. I have also attended the Saturday afternoon mixed ability class between 15:00 and 17:00.

If you live anywhere near Manchester or Leeds those are the classes I recommend. If not, here are some tips to find a class that's right for you. If you live in or near London you are spoilt for choice. lists dance classes in just about every dance style in every part of the metropolis on its Dance Class and Workshops page. I have only attended Adam's class at Pineapple but I have watched some of the classes at Danceworks and can't wait to try some of them.  KNT runs classes at Studio 76 at 76 West Derby Road and Dolphin Dance Studio at Dolphin Dance Studio at 42 Devon Street in Liverpool on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (see Timetable). Dancexchange runs all sorts of classes in Birmingham. Scottish Ballet runs a wide range of adult ballet classes at the Tramway in Glasgow (see the Get Dancing page on Scottish Ballet's web site). Ballet West offers body conditioning for adults at Taynuilt on Tuesdays and Thursdays (see Ballet West Outreach Timetable 2015/16) as does Ballet Cymru in Newport on Mondays between 18:30 and 19:30 (call Jenny Isaacs 01633 892927 or email for further details).

We are busy compiling a database of adult dance classes up and down the country. If we find any gaps we shall do our best to find a teacher and premises to fill them. If you are an RAD or ISTD teacher, carry the appropriate insurance and accreditations and are prepared to teach adults in your area do get in touch.

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