Friday, 10 September 2010

Just Dance - Jessica's column

At 11am on Saturdays there is an odd sound coming from the back room of Breadsall Village Hall; “tap tap bang bang click clack tap.” Anyone who was to venture closer would find a group of girls honing their tap dancing skills, and having piles of fun doing so; it was not, actually, a herd of wildebeest sporting stilettos!

I’ve been going to Starsteppers Dance School in Breadsall for years now, and although we can’t yet rival Britain’s Got Talent’s ‘Diversity’ I’ve made some really close friends and we’ve put on many a stunning show. Tap, with its crisp steps and shiny heeled shoes with polished metal soles, could well be my favourite style of dance. In French it’s called “les claquettes”, a name very appropriate as it serves as a pretty decent description of the neat noises made – ‘clacket clacket.’

Words used to help remember technical steps in dance form their own language. One muttered under the breath of tappers everywhere, is: “shuffle hop spring brush toe toe stamp”. Or in ballet: “first second and back to bras bas.”

I haven’t been doing ballet for very long, but I like how this type of dance slows everything down so you can concentrate much more on the curve of your hands and feet, and the music. Modern jazz dancing, like tap, is excellent because you can put in loads of cheesy enthusiasm, wide toothy grins and go mad. It’s so versatile that practically any kind of music can be used, from some bizarre classical remix to good old pop to give the dance a different vibe.

For me, dance shows are the best bit of dancing. The nerves from performing on a hot bright stage in front of a crowd means that backstage becomes hours of hyper laughter and messing about with new and old friends. Throw in ridiculous, colourful costumes and the necessary over-the-top stage make-up into the mix (blue eyes and red lips!) and you get some very memorable nights, hopefully for both performers and audience!

I often help out teaching the cute 3 and 4 year olds their routines. It’s always clear they’re having a whale of a time rocking out to Ghostbusters and Abba. No one can beat them for enthusiasm, which just goes to show that any and every age should have a bit of a boogie from time to time.

Recently I’ve been trying some more exercise-based dance classes. Derby Dance has an MTV Moves class on Mondays which I’ve gone to a few times where one intricate routine is taught weekly. All different kinds of people go there, but when we’re all following the music together and conquering the same fiddly sequence of moves, some of the self-consciousness melts away, and through a layer of perspiration you find you’re suddenly rather enjoying yourself!

Zumba is a kind of Latin American fitness dancing with lots of hips and shimmying. Despite its exhausting nature, a class I went to on Fridays with my Mum had an unmistakeable party atmosphere. The rhythmic music is so different to anything you’d hear on the radio. It’s like the lively drums echo your racing heartbeat.

Whether you dance to keep fit, make friends, enjoy the music or just for fun, keep on moving. That way, next time you’re at a wedding and the DJ cranks up the volume you can successfully wow (or embarrass) your relatives and forget your worries on the dance floor. All those spectators will wish that they too could relax their inhibitions, and just dance.

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