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The people of Norwich just love to dance

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:58 02 July 2010

From Strictly Come Dancing through to So You Think You Can dance - the BBC's latest offering encouraging people to showcase their movement skills - dancing, of any kind, is increasingly becoming one of the favourite past times not only for reality television makers but for ordinary people across the country.

From Strictly Come Dancing through to So You Think You Can dance - the BBC's latest offering encouraging people to showcase their movement skills - dancing, of any kind, is increasingly becoming one of the favourite past times not only for reality television makers but for ordinary people across the country. And it seems Norwich is no different.

There are now dozens of clubs and classes which have sprung up across the city offering people the chance to learn a variety of dancing from Egyptian belly dance through to American square dancing and jive - so what is it that makes people want to get up on their feet and move to the beat, whatever their size, age or background?

It seems that dancing and the euphoria which goes with it, is the key hook for many people - and the fact it is an activity accessible to anyone of any age.

And dance instructors and those taking dance classes in Norwich agree, claiming it is also one of the most sociable pastimes around.

Spin 'n' Wheel Dance Club, which focuses on American Square Dancing, takes place at Nelson Road Infant School in Northumberland Street, in the north of the city, every Tuesday between 8pm and 9pm.

The group currently has more than 20 regular members after seeing its numbers rise steadily over the last two years.

Richard Motley is head caller there, calling out the dance directions for everyone to follow.

He said: “Why do people enjoy this activity so much? It's because it is a lively fun-centred hobby that has social benefits in that many members become good friends meeting people from different walks of life and sharing a common interest.”

Rosemary High, 70, from Eaton, has been going to the square dancing classes since June last year.

She said: “It is a really sociable pastime, and good exercise as well, especially for older people. It keeps the brain going as well, having to listen to the caller calling out all the different actions.”

Tony Mak, 65, from Felthorpe, has been going to the classes for eight years, but has been doing square dancing since 1979.

He said: “Our intake has gone up, especially in the past few years. It is a good exercise for both the mind and the body, I know in America doctors recommend doing square dancing because it helps with physical and mental activity.”

Debbie Warren Green has taught Flamenco dance classes for the past 10 years and she has quite a few people now taking classes with her, which she runs at Fitness First Dance Studio, corner of Riverside on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

She said: “It is a very exciting dance to do and it is a real stress-buster because you cannot think about anything else except the steps.

“The beauty of Flamenco is that it encourages you to have good posture and to stand really well, so any one of any age or size can look good doing it.

“I think more people are turning to dance because it is more fun than just going to the gym, it is also more social and you get something at the end of it, you have learnt a new skill.”

As soon as any star gets voted off a dancing show, they are gushing to the camera about how just being able to learn the dances and moves has changed their life and somehow just made them much, much happier.

And much to everyone's amazement - including judge soprano Simon Cowell, singer Susan Boyle, last year's red hot favourite to take the winner's crown of Britain's Got Talent, was pipped to the post by energetic young dance group Diversity - a sure sign of just how popular dance has become.

Norfolk Dance say their groups are becoming more and more popular and oversubscribed, part in thanks to the television dance shows and groups like Diversity

They run a range of classes at The Garage based in Chapelfield North, for all ages from toddler through to the over-50s.

Louise Kitchener, dance instructor and administer with Norfolk Dance, said: “The over 50s group has just grown and grown over the past two years.

“Now we have a maximum of 25 members in the class and we have a waiting list as well.

“Other popular classes are hip-hop and street and again we have waiting lists for those. I think those dances in particular have become popular because of the dance shows which are on television.”

Sylvia Harnett, 74, who lives close to the city centre, has been going to the over-50s class since it began

She said: “I enjoy being able to move to the music, also there is no element of competition. You also get a lot of support and it works the mind as well as the body because you have to have hand, eye and body co-ordination.

Pat Hinde, 63, from Eaton, has been with the group for the past five months.

She said: “Dance is a really great work out and you just feel really energised after taking part in a class. There is also a really nice sociable atmosphere from everyone as well.”

Lorraine Theobald, who runs Egyptian belly-dancing lessons at the Oasis Health and Beauty Club in Pound Lane, Thorpe, on Tuesdays and has been teaching the dance for 20 years, says she has a variety of people coming to her for instruction.

She said: “Professional women, full-time mothers, grandmothers, women of all ages shape and sizes, come together to switch off from the daily stress of modern life.

“They connect with an ancient dance form which is confidence building, increases suppleness, muscle tone, improves posture, is creative, social and relaxing.

“It is and a great source of joy and female supportive fellowship.”

Dance has that magical quality, for an hour or so you can feel your troubles ebb away and make believe you could be the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, and most of it all it is just good fun.

And with new styles of movement popping up all the time, alongside classes to teach them, it seems the love affair with dancing is set to stick around for some time to come.

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