WITH so many diverse dance classes and programs in the ACT, everyone is bound to find a style that suits them best.
From ballroom to hip-hop to highland dancing, Canberra even has classes for people who are living with neurological or physical conditions.
But no matter why people decide to take up dance, a common theme between all styles is how it gives students an outlet to be creative, expressive, make friends and have fun!
Program aims to help wellbeing
BELCONNEN Arts Centre’s “Dance for Wellbeing” program aims to improve the quality of life for people living with neurological or physical conditions, says program coordinator Philip Piggin.
The program offers classes such as “Offbeat”, for people with Parkinson’s, “Vivacity”, for people with dementia and “Ricochet”, for all people, including people with multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, chronic fatigue and arthritis.
“The benefits of [these classes] are multi-layered and have an impact on participants physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally,” Philip says.
“The programs provide a quality of life experience in a world that can be increasingly compromised because of their condition.
“Within the class there is freedom, encouragement, friendship, exercise and laughter.
“Participants are treated as dancers not patients and for the duration of the class they are not defined by their respective conditions, which otherwise can dominate their life.”
Held weekly at Belconnen Arts Centre and in Gordon at Uniting Amala, Philip says the classes are accessible to everybody regardless of age, mobility and experience, and they offer a unique way to improve quality of life and form significant bonds.
He also says there is research indicating that programs like “Dance for Wellbeing” have the potential to slow the progression of different conditions, and that there is evidence suggesting these types of classes are a cost-effective way of helping to keep members of the community happy and independent.
Youth dance program nurtures creativity
CANBERRA’S first urban dance program, Fresh Funk, has really taken off since it was established in 2001, according to its artistic director, Leena Wall.
Leena says it didn’t take long for the eclectic dance project, which combines streetdance, hip-hop and funk, to grow, with the program doubling by the second term.
Now, having tapped into a niche in the Canberra dance scene, Leena says Fresh Funk has about 300 students a week in the program, which is for all ages and skill levels, and helps dancers hone their talent for both personal enjoyment and also on a professional level.
“Fresh Funk stands out because we use music that has meaning,” she says.
“What’s lovely is you incorporate your ideas and explore something special.
“There’s a level of self expression and creativity in the way that we frame and create our dance program.
“We really focus on creativity and we’ve [since helped] develop some special dance artists from the program.
“[And] for those who want, there are professional pathways to follow and/or [an] initiative to explore choreography.”
Leena says top dancers and tutors in the program also do international trips to train, compete and learn.
But, no matter what a student wants to get out of the program, Leena says the emphasis is always on the creative aspect of dance, saying the Fresh Funk program is ultimately an outlet for young people and their ideas.
Fresh Funk dance program at Tuggeranong Arts Centre, 137 Reed St, Greenway, Tuggeranong. Call 6293 1443, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tuggeranongarts.com
Dale’s classes make moving fun
TEACHING a range of classic dance styles, Dale’s Ballroom Dancing offers a fun way to get fit, socialise and compete in a friendly environment, says owner Dale Harris.
“You don’t realise how much exercise you’re doing, you’re constantly on the move,” she says.
Dale, who loves seeing her students having fun and improving in her classes, teaches styles such as the 10 traditional ballroom dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, Viennese waltz, cha cha, samba, jive, rumba and paso doble.
“We do adults’ classes on Wednesdays from 8pm to 10pm, and on Thursdays we have kids’ classes at 6pm, then social dances at 7pm,” she says.
Backed by more than 20 years’ experience teaching dance, Dale started dancing even earlier, at the age of 6, when she developed an interest in ballroom dancing.
She’s since received many qualifications in ballroom dancing and is also a championship adjudicator who travels interstate to judge ballroom competitions.
And while it’s not compulsory, Dale says her students have a chance to compete and loves seeing them receive medals for their achievements.
“I enjoy seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they get their medals,” she says.
But, she says she also loves to see them having a great time and enjoying the classes.
The pipes are calling
NOW taking on new students for term 3, the Canberra Highland Dancing Academy in Acton wants to share its love of dancing with the local community, says teacher Alison Dell.
“Our aim is to increase the number of people having fun and making new friends through highland dancing, both as competitors and performers,” Alison says.
With a combined 60 years’ experience, Alison says the teachers are all fully qualified from institutions which are recognised in Scotland, where highland dancing originated.
She says Canberra Highland Dancing Academy offers classes for students from as early as four, and offers classes to all fitness and skill levels.
If students want to dance competitively, she says there are opportunities to compete throughout Canberra and Sydney.
“Competing and learning dances is brilliant for fitness and fun but the lifelong friendships that are formed through highland dancing are the most rewarding part,” she says.
“We want to help people build great exercise and dancing habits that have a lifelong positive impact.
“The most rewarding thing about dancing is the places you go, the people you meet, and the friends you make.
“We are also the only dancing school in the Canberra region to offer Highland Hustle, a workout that combines highland dancing movements with cardio exercise.”
Canberra Highland Dancing Academy, Kingsley Street, Acton. Email email@example.com