Dance classes prove you're never too old to step out
OLDER people in the dale are turning to ballet in their droves to improve their health, balance and well-being.
What started out as a small class at The Witham, in Barnard Castle, in November last year, has burgeoned into five classes across the county and beyond. The Silver Swans group, which were started by ballet teacher Joyce Jeffrey came together for an “open class” to showcase what they had learned.
Ms Jeffrey said: “I quickly realised that it was mainly older adults attending the daytime class at The Witham, so I took the Royal Academy of Dance training course to licence me to teach their Silver Swans classes, aimed at the over-50s. And so The Silver Swans at The Witham were born.
“The original class was so popular that there are now two classes at The Witham. I was also asked to start classes in other areas so I now teach daytime Silver Swans classes in Sadberge, Cotherstone, Coxhoe and Ponteland, catering for all ages and abilities.
“We have dancers well into their 80s as well as some who can stand for the barre work but do the centre work seated on a chair.”
This month’s event at The Witham was the first time the different classes got to work together and ended with 34 Silver Swans performing a dance together.
Ms Jeffrey added: “It was amazing to see. lt was an emotional moment for me seeing them all together.
“I absolutely love teaching these classes, which are so beneficial to those taking part. As well as improving balance, stamina and strength they are so good for wellbeing too as I always bring humour into the classes.
“It is wonderful to see the dancers progress each week and to see the joy on their faces when they achieve something new.
“When someone tells me, ‘I have waited 74 years for this class’ or ‘I have felt graceful for the first time in my life’, then I realise just what the class means to them. You are never too old to learn.”
For more information visit The Witham.