Manchester Quay StreetAuthor Mikey Licence CC BY 2.0 Source Wikimedia Commons
Throughout this pandemic, Karen Sant of KNT Danceworks has kept north country dancers moving and motivated. Frst by transferring her regular classes online. More recently by holding some of those classes in the open air in Castlefield near the Roman fort where Manchester began. While nothing beats alfresco dancing on a warm summer evening our city is better known for precipitation than sunshine. On a particularly inclement evening, Karen announced a new venue in the ABC Buildings on Quay Street. I rolled up there for my regular pre-intermediate ballet class with Karen yesterday.
As Quay Street was my old stamping ground when I practised in Manchester I had no difficulty in finding the building. It is located near Cobden House which housed the Manchester District Registry and County Court offices for many years and is now occupied by a set of barristers into which my former chambers merged. It is a few hundred yards from Spingingfields car park and there is usually some metered street parking nearby if you care to look for it. It is very close to Deansgate which is the main shopping street of Manchester. Also, a moderate walk from the nearest tram stop by the Town Hall or Victoria and Piccadilly mainline railway stations.
One hazard for dancers coming by car is the roadworks in Quay Street and approaches. The congestion caused by those excavations was horrendous. The journey from the intersection of the Oldham Road and Swan Street to Spiningfields - which can't be much more than a mile - took almost as long as the 25 miles from Holmfirth to that intersection. Next time I shall park on the outskirts of the city centre and finish my journey on foot.
The class took place at the top of what I believe to be the B Building of the ABC complex. It was not easy to find because there is no signage. The reception desk was unoccupied and the staff in the cinema bar hadn't a clue though they did their best to point me in the right direction. Happily, I ran into two other wandering souls. After eliminating between us just about every landing and staircase in the building we caught a peel of tinkly music that eventually led us to Karen. Newcomers to the class should enter the building by the first set of doors if coming from Deansgate or the last if coming from Spiningfields, walk down a long corridor to the lifts, take a lift to the top floor and climb the stairs to what appears to have been the penthouse.
Although probably not intended to be a dance studio, that space is an improvement on Studio 2 of the Dancehouse in several respects. For a start, it has windows along both main walls. Two doors open onto a balcony with views of central Manchester. The doors also provide good ventilation. On the other hand, the floor is unfinished, there is no sound system and we have to use the window structures as a barre. However, the amenity of the space more than made up for its limitations.
Because I was badly delayed by traffic and could not immediately find the class I arrived in the middle of pliés. Karen took us through all the usual barre exercises except grands battements which she combined with tendus and pirouette practice in the centre. She also taught us a delightful adagio which we performed in two groups. We had warm-up jumps and joyful temps leves at the end.
It was a delightful class. It was good to see so many familiar faces and of course Karen. Everyone I could see had grins from ear to ear. At £6.50 this class was a bargain. To sign up or future ones, register or log on to the KNT Class Manager site and follow the simple directions. There are also other classes at different levels of several genres on most days of the week,