TikTok is no replacement for dance training!
At the Royal Academy of Dance, we believe that ‘every body’ can dance. But more than that, I believe that everybody should dance. Movement is medicine. The benefits of dance on our mental and physical well-being, and on our sense of connection and belonging, are remarkable. Dance in your kitchen, dance down the street, dance in the studio or a club. Dance on your own, dance with others. Dance like nobody’s watching. Dancing is an expression of being alive. Just dance.
Having said all of that, dance is also an art form and a craft, and we believe that there’s no substitute for well-qualified dance teachers, who are best placed to kindle a passion for movement and to develop bodies and minds.
As we often say at the RAD: “You don’t just want a good teacher, you want the best.” But we’re now seeing some developments within the dance industry that seem to turn that on its head: from people believing that a teacher who is “good enough” will do, through to shortcuts to attaining the skills needed to be at the top of the game. Worse still are programmes offering on-demand lessons in which children are encouraged to learn by following dance videos streamed online without any in-person guidance from a fully qualified teacher. For the Rest of this Article, see The Stage online:
At Colours of Dance, all our teachers are experienced and have undertaken years of teacher training, which they continuously update and refresh.
RAD's 100 Year Anniversary!
This year is the Centenary of the RAD. This article explains some of the early history and information about the founders: The Royal Academy of Dance: From Music Hall to Ballet Royalty - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
The article highlights how ballet has developed over the past 100 years and includes so interesting facts. Such as, 'today, the academy is one of the major ballet training programs in the world, with students in 92 countries following syllabuses and taking its exams governed by the organization.'
“A lot of British dance’s legacy started with the R.A.D.,” said Darcey Bussell, a former Royal Ballet ballerina who has been the president of the academy since 2012. “It’s important that dance training and teaching are kept entwined with the professional world, and the R.A.D. has done that from the start.”
“They wanted to streamline everything and make it more enjoyable for the children, and just focus on the movement,” Ms. Fitzpatrick said. “The party polka is a good example of that, with a great sense for the children of whirling around the room, and really dancing.”
PE with Joe
During the current situation, everyone has had to make some changes. Lots of people’s routines have changed, which means that they are not getting as much exercise as they normally would. This is quite true for school children who normally have PE twice a week. But fear not Joe Wicks (or The Body Coach) is here to help you keep fit and active.
Every week day at 9:00 in the morning, Joe Wicks is live on YouTube doing a 30 minute workout. (You can also catch up on the ones you missed on his YouTube channel at any time - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ). To make the workout more fun for the children he has adapted the exercises to interest them and also any adult that might join in. For example: bunny hops, Spiderman lunges, my personal favourite is Pikachu jumps and many more. To make the classes more exciting, at the beginning of every videos Joe likes to play a game of spot the difference. In addition every Friday you get to dress up as your favourite character or person. So far Joe has been Spiderman and Scooby Doo.
Joe Wicks is dedicated to keeping everyone fit and healthy and has said that he will be there for us every week day for as long as we need during this hard time.
Ballet has changed a lot over the years. It keeps evolving to fit what we like as an audience. If you were to go and see an original ballet, you would expect something like Swan Lake or Cinderella, but what if you saw something that was nothing like what you expected. Would you start a riot and make a huge drama? Or would you sit there and make your own interpretations of it? Over the years we have changed the way we act towards new and different performances. From Ballerinas dancing without pointe shoes to famous ballet companies performing dances unheard of. Take The Rite of Springs for example:
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring from 1913. When this was first performed on stage there was a riot. The Rite of Spring was not your typical ballet.Igor Stravinsky wanted to make something unique and different to what anyone had seen before. That is what he did and when it was performed on stage the audience was completely surprised. They were expecting an original ballet like The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, etc. but what they saw was a scandal. The dancers that had trained for years to have turned out toes and pointed feet, had to unlearn their years of training and learn how to dance with turned in feet and flexed feet. Even the costumes weren’t typical ballet tutu’s. This was not the classical ballet the audience had payed to see.
At that time people were so used to the same thing, that when something new was seen they were very critical of it. This is what happened with The Rite of Spring. Many people asked for their money back. Times have changed since then. People may still be critical of new performances and dances, but we learn to accept that change and move on.
A more recent ballet is Alice in Wonderland from 2017. Some of the dance sections are very comedic and entertaining, but not what you would expect to see. That doesn’t mean that people didn’t like to watch it or give it some great feedback. The Queen of Hearts dance was very comedic but still had exquisite technique. If this dance were to have been seen about 100 year ago then there might have been a very different opinion on it. It might have been seen as mocking the queen. If this dance were to have been seen about 100 year ago then there might have been a very different opinion on it. It might have been seen as mocking the queen.
Ballerinas used to dance on the tops of their toes without pointe shoes. Pointe shoes were invented, and they became very popular. However, when the war came there were huge rations and pointe shoes had to last a long time. This is where darning came in. Ballerinas would sew the ends of their shoes to make them last longer. Even though we don’t have rations anymore it’s still a tradition to darn the ends of point shoes.
Posted 21st June 2018
5 Things That Will Happen To Your Brain When You Dance
Published by LIFESTYLE BY REBECCA BERIS
Those of you who like to get your groove on on the dance floor will probably be surprised to find out that you are doing yourself a world of good. Dancing is more than just an enjoyable activity to experience with friends or your partner; dancing has the amazing ability to improve the way your brain functions. Let’s look at five exciting things that dancing can do to your brain.
It'll enhance neuroplasticity
A study led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted over a period of 21 years and looked at senior citizens 75 years and older. The researchers measured mental acuity in aging by monitoring rates of dementia. The aim of the study was to find out if any physical or cognitive recreational activities had an effect on mental acuity.
The study found that some cognitive activities influence mental acuity, but almost none of the physical activities had had any effect. The one exception was frequent dancing. Some findings of the studies were:
- Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia
- Bicycling and swimming – 0% reduced risk of dementia
- Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47% reduced risk of dementia
- Playing golf – 0% reduced risk of dementia
- Dancing frequently – 76% reduced risk of dementia
People who dance regularly have greater cognitive reserves and an increased complexity of neuronal synapses, explained neurologist Dr. Robert Katzman. Dancing lowered the risk of dementia by improving these neural qualities. Dancing may cause the brain to continually rewire its neural pathways and by doing so help with neuroplasticity.
It'll make you more intelligent
What is meant by intelligence? If our response to a given situation is automatic (the stimulus-response relationship is automatic) then it is generally accepted that intelligence is involved. When the brain evaluates various reasonable responses and deliberately chooses one response, the process is considered to be intelligent. Jean Piaget stated that intelligence is what we use when we don't already know what to do.
To put it simply, the essence of intelligence is making decisions. To improve your mental acuity, it is best to involve yourself in an activity that demands split-second, rapid decision making. Dancing is an example of a fast-paced activity that demands speedy decision making. It requires instant responses to questions like Which way to turn? What speed to move your body? and How to react to your partner's movements? Dancing is an excellent way to maintain and enhance your intelligence.
It'll improve your muscle memory
The article The Cognitive Benefits of Movement Reduction: Evidence From Dance Marking states that dancers can achieve complex moves more easily when they undergo the process of “marking ” —walking through movements slowly and encoding each movement with a cue.
Researcher Edward Warburton, a former professional ballet dancer, and his colleagues looked at the “thinking behind the doing of dance. ” They published their findings in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. They found that marking lessened the conflict between the cognitive and physical aspects of dance, and doing so gave the dancers a chance to memorize and repeat moves with greater fluidity.
It was concluded that visualizing movements and marking can help improve muscle memory. This type of visualization and marking, learned through dance, can also be used across a variety of fields to optimize performance.
It'll slow down aging and boost memory
Dr. Katzman believes that the more complex our neuronal synapses are, the better. He believes that you should do whatever you can to create new neural paths, and dancing is a great way to do this.
As you get older, brain cells die and synapses become weaker. Nouns, like names of people, are harder to remember because there is only one neural pathway that leads us to this stored information.
If you work on learning new things, like dance, you can work on building different mental routes and many paths. So if one path is lost as a result of age, you have an alternative path that you can use to access stored information and memories.
It'll help prevent dizziness
Have you ever wondered why ballet dancers don't get dizzy when they perform pirouettes? Research suggests that through years of practice and training, dancers gain the ability to suppress signals from the balance organs in the inner ear that are linked to the cerebellum.
Dr. Barry Seemungal of the Department of Medicine at Imperial explains that “It's not useful for a ballet dancer to feel dizzy or off balance. Their brains adapt over years of training to suppress that input. Consequently, the signal going to the brain areas responsible for perception of dizziness in the cerebral cortex is reduced, making dancers resistant to feeling dizzy. ”
If you suffer from dizziness, then making time in your schedule for any form of dance is a good way to address this problem. Dancing will help improve the function of your cerebellum, which in turn may help you improve your balance and make you less dizzy. You do not need to be a professional dancer to benefit from this sport. Dancing at all levels will help.
Dance can be a great way to maintain and improve many of your brain functions. Dance can increase your neural connectivity because it integrates several brain functions at once; rational, musical, kinesthetic, and emotional. This increased neural connectivity can be of great benefit to your brain as it ages. So, dance now and dance often!
Posted 14th June 2018
English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2018
English National Ballet is pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 Emerging Dancer Award is Daniel McCormick.
Having performed a pas de deux from Le Corsaire with partner Francesca Velicu and Leatherwing Bat, a solo by Trey McIntyre, McCormick was announced as winner on stage at the London Coliseum and livestreamed to audiences across the world last night (Monday 11 June 2018) by Artistic Director of English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo.
Of winning the 2018 Emerging Dancer Award, Daniel McCormick said: “Winning this award was completely unexpected, my colleagues on stage with me tonight are so immensely talented. It's a dream to perform on the stage of the London Coliseum – a place with such history and beauty – and it's an honour to come to London and perform for this fantastic audience. I'm now ready to work harder than ever to prove why I won this prize. ”
The evening also saw Georgia Bould named as the recipient of the Corps de Ballet Award, acknowledging her exceptional work over the last year, while Alice Bellini was awarded the People's Choice Award, as voted for by members of the public.
Emerging Dancer allows English National Ballet to recognise the excellence of its artists. Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director of English National Ballet was joined on the judging panel by Julio Bocca, Lauren Cuthbertson, Johan Kobborg and Kerry Nicholls.
Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director of English National Ballet said: “It's wonderful to have Emerging Dancer as a platform to celebrate the talent of English National Ballet's young dancers. The standard we saw on stage tonight has been extraordinary. It was incredibly hard to pick a winner but the judges felt that Daniel had that little bit extra. He's special, he has a hunger to continue to learn, an openness to all the different styles English National Ballet has, and such courage as a young dancer to put himself out there. ”
The other finalists this year were Precious Adams, Fernando CarratalÃ¡ Coloma, Francesca Velicu, Connie Vowles and Giorgio Garrett.
Published on June 12, 2018 by Ballet News (http://www.balletnews.co.uk/)
First the Drama, Then a Flamenco Party!!
By Brian Seibert May 16, 2018
Looking at a projected photo of her younger self on Tuesday, Carlota Santana laughed. It's been a long time since the company now known as Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. Her troupe is celebrating its 35th anniversary with an ambitious program at BAM Fisher this week, including guest artists and an hourlong new work dedicated to “Mujeres Valientes, ” or valiant women. Surely, Ms. Santana counts as one of those. Keeping a company going ain't easy.
“Mujeres Valientes, ” by the noted flamenco choreographer BelÃ©n Maya, honors two women whom Ms. Santana described in her introductory speech as feminist foremothers: the 17th-century Mexican poet-philosopher Sor Juana InÃ©s de la Cruz and the 19th-century South American revolutionary Manuela SÃ¡enz. Those are fascinating historical characters, but this is a dull dance.
Ms. Maya's choreography is firm and shapely, and it's closely tied to Gaspar RodrÃguez's evocative score, which he and four other fine musicians play live. It's a dance-drama, though, and the drama is the problem.
With Sor Juana, Ms. Maya faces the age-old challenge of how to represent a writer dramatically. Establishing the character as a bibliophile is easy. Sor Juana (EstefanÃa RamÃrez) cradles books, caresses them, pulls them out of her pockets and uses them as a fan. But the dance indicates none of her intelligence or the wit in the words borrowed for lyrics. To express her defiance of foolish men, she circles male dancers and tosses paper at them.
SÃ¡enz (Elisabet Torras), a woman of action and romance, doesn't fare much better. Her relationship with the great liberator SimÃ³n Bolivar occasions one strong moment: When he goes down on a knee, she makes him take off her shoes. Yet their duet devolves into commonplaces of power-balance choreography. She dons a military uniform and blows cigar smoke in his face. He doesn't like it.
Over the years, Ms. Santana has been savvy in supplementing her workaday company with superior guest artists. That strategy saves the day this year, too. After intermission on Tuesday, Guadalupe Torres raised the energy level with the banked fires of her solo to “La CaÃ±a. ” Then came JosÃ© Maldonado, the true great liberator of evening.
In his “Farruca ” solo, Mr. Maldonado was impressive. He bent his torso back like the taut, tense bow of an archer. He shot into poses with the speed of an arrow. If his performance was a little too choreographed for my taste and occasionally false in manner, those faults were offset by bursts of brilliance and uncommon invention.
Mr. Maldonado's real rescue job, though, was what he did for the company. “Pa' Triana Voy, ” the ensemble work he choreographed, is the rare flamenco group piece that doesn't stifle the individual flamenco spirit. Performing it, the Flamenco Vivo dancers, so tentative and affected in “Mujeres Valientes, ” seemed released, alive, loose, charming. That attitude carried through to the traditional “Fin de Fiesta ” finale, with everyone taking a turn and having a great time. Now that's the way to celebrate an anniversary.
Correction: May 16, 2018
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the dancer portraying Sor Juana. The role is danced by EstefanÃa RamÃrez, not Eliza GonzÃ¡lez. A photo caption in an earlier version of this review, using information from a publicist, misidentified one of the dancers. She is Elisabet Torras, not Eliza GonzÃ¡lez.
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana
To see photos and more from Brian Seibert, follow the link to...https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/flamenco-dance
The Fundamentals of ISTD Street Dance
Over the last five years I have had the privilege of working with the ISTD to help develop a street dance syllabus. For many people this term is a contradiction in itself. However, with the ever changing and rapidly growing buzz around street dance, it was vital that a structure was introduced for this style so that the young voices of our schools were heard and their needs were met. This needed to be approached, not only staying true to the authenticity of this historical style and welcoming the newer evolving commercial styles, but also with an emphasis on safe dance practise and professional teaching skills. Who better to tackle this giant than the ISTD! Street dance is under the diverse umbrella that is dancesport and we are proudly attached to the Disco/Freestyle/Rock ‘n' Roll Faculty.
Our glossary of steps is split into two subdivision, one being the funk styles: locking, popping and b-boying. The other is one that, we as teachers, are probably more familiar with. This is the commercial side of street dance. This side of the genre is ever changing and constantly evolving depending on current music and trends, it is impossible to box and contain this within a syllabus. We have therefore listed different sub genres that take influences from any other styles and also fuse together such as jazz funk, urban, contemporary, hip-hop and isolation hip-hop. The list is endless and people are forever trying to push the exciting boundaries of movement. Are you confused yet? Locking and popping exploded to the media forefront in the late 1960's and b-boying hit the public eye in the 1980's. These styles stemmed from the United States and were derived from social dances at the time. These funk styles were not taught in dance studios. They developed and evolved in social situations and were a response to specific styles of music.
The ISTD gives the history and origins of these style great importance and how they influence the more commercial styles seen today. The ISTD has collated foundation movement from these styles and these have formed the basis of our glossary of steps. Personally I see many different variations and interpretations of street dance choreography in dance schools today and I am strongly of the opinion that street dance is for all. However, I also deeply respect the history of hip-hop and street dance and feel that it is our responsibility to educate the next generation about the important of this history, music and soul and their relevance to commercial dance today (not just how to twerk to Katy Perry!)
Written by Samantha Vale (DANCE magazine, Issue No471 Apr-June 2015)
Ballet is Boring? One Parent's view
Author: Miss Erin, posted online 9 October 2014
A friend and colleague recently posted a quote on her Facebook page and it got me thinking. Mr. Balanchine once said: “If you don't feel challenged, it's because you're not doing enough. Ballet should never feel comfortable. Comfortable is lazy! If you're comfortable when you dance, you're not pushing yourself hard enough. 100% is not enough. You have to give 200%. One tendu takes years of hard work and will never be perfect. Everything in ballet is a challenge. ”
I cannot tell you how many times I've heard from my students, ‘Ballet is boring.' Now, I'm going to get up on my soap box and give one of those, ‘in my day,' speeches that is sadly, long overdue. I never remember feeling this way and I never remember any of the kids I grew up with ever feeling this way, let alone saying it to an instructor. In fact, I wouldn't want to imagine what would happen to us if we had. The world is definitely changing. Students today think that a challenge is doing multiple, badly performed pirouettes, fouettÃ© turns and big jumps. They want to perform the steps, but they have no care about how well they execute them.
I highly dislike and get frustrated when I hear students say a class is not challenging enough for them. Margot Fonteyn notoriously took beginner classes several times a week in order to perfect her technique. She challenged herself in the lowest class levels even though she was at the top of her profession. I'm sorry to say that none of my students that have told me this is a Margot Fonteyn and never will be with that attitude.
This mentality is not solely from the students either; much of it comes from the parents. I'll get comments like, ‘Work her hard in there!' Ummm …I cannot make your child work, that's on her. Just a few weeks ago I got a question from a mother about a child having to repeat a level of ballet. I explained to the mother that the child lacked focus and didn't work to her potential. The parent then said, ‘Well maybe she isn't doing those things because she's bored and needs pushed. Putting her in the next level could help.' That's not how this works! I do not reward lazy behavior. She needs to work in the level she's in and prove to me she's earned a spot in a more advanced class where focus and work ethic are even more of a requirement. I don't remember my parents ever questioning my teachers' judgments, and if they had heard what I told that parent about me, I would have gotten a stern talking to about work ethic.
Speaking of work ethic, this is also something that's sadly lacking from many of this new generation. The problem is they aren't trying to be lazy; they actually think they're working when they aren't even coming close. For instance, I asked a student to get his leg up in developpÃ©. His leg went up a whole foot!
If he were really working to his full potential, it would go up less than an inch, not a whole foot …that's lazy! This happens over and over again in my classes. I have to ask a student why they are doing a single pirouette when I know they can do a double. I have to yell at them to jump higher and, all of the sudden, they're flying through the air. Why do I have to ask for their best? When I was kid, no one's leg in the room was going to be higher than mine, no one was going to balance longer than me and no one's feet were going to be as pointed as mine. I wasn't mean about it with the other students, but I wasn't going to let them be better than me either. I would stand behind the best person in the room and work to emulate everything about them. I would go across the floor with the tallest person in the room and try to keep up. (I have always been short, but refused to move that way). Where are the students that are willing to fight to improve? They are becoming fewer and more far between with every passing year. Maybe Balanchine was right and these kids need to think of working at 200% in order to work to their full capacity.
I love when my students themselves realize they have not been working to their potential. I had a senior graduate last year that confided to me that she wished she would have learned how to work harder sooner. She told me that she knew she was one of the most diligent workers in class for her last two years, but then lamented to me that she wished she had figured it out sooner. She wondered how much further along in her dance training she would have been. I reminded her that the important thing was that she understood it now and that she continues on that path during her college training. I also had a mother tell me that her daughter was coming home a lot sweatier and more tired than usual lately and I laughed and told her that her daughter had finally figured out how to work. The next day the mother came in and told me that at first she was offended by comment and shared it with her daughter. Her daughter laughed and said, ‘Yep, I guess it finally just clicked with me that I could be doing a heck of a lot more than I have been. Wait until you see me during parent observation next week; I'm getting really good at this!'
While we are talking about differences in the generations, I can tell you that students also complain a lot more than they did in the past. Maybe we didn't complain to our teachers because we knew they didn't care if our baby toe hurt or if we were tired or had a bad day at school. There seems to be a real disconnect between discomfort and fatigue and actual pain with today's children. One of my favorite stories to tell about this is when another one of my colleagues was fixing an arabesque on a 10 year old girl. When he was done, the child complained that her back hurt. He then asked the whole class if they had discussed pain yet. They all shook their heads no.
He then asked them all if they liked figure skating. They all nodded an enthusiastic yes. He then said, ‘Well you know when a figure skater lands on the edge of her skate, falls and SLAMS her head on the ice?! That's pain!' The whole class' eyes got wide. I think this is a brilliant way of explaining to young students the difference between being uncomfortable and sharp dangerous pain. Though, I have to admit when I was their age, I don't remember anyone having to explain to me the difference between the two.
He then asked the little girl how her back felt after his explanation and she replied, ‘It's fine.' That's right, it's fine! You are sore, you are uncomfortable, you are not in pain.
From my Musical Theatre college students, many of whom are beginners, I hear many times, ‘Why can't I get this?' or, ‘Why doesn't my leg look like yours?' For the most part, my college students are wonderful, highly motivated, hardworking, focused and want to do well. I try to explain to them ballet is a process that takes many years and that professional dancers are still trying to perfect their technique. Also, that I have been dancing ballet all my life, of course my technique will be good, it would be sad if it wasn't! The thing I see from them is this idea of instant gratification that is so rampant in this generation. They think that if they work hard, it will just come. To them, ballet isn't boring, it's frustrating. They too don't always find joy in the work and just want results they haven't earned quite yet. Maybe they need to be reminded that, ‘one tendu takes years of hard work and will never be perfect. Everything in ballet is a challenge.'
As a teacher, I want to see my students succeed beyond their expectations, and even mine for that matter. I cannot make them work hard, that's something they have to do for themselves. I can only give them all my knowledge, information and time and try to inspire them to do their best. What they do with all of it afterwards is totally up to them. One of the lessons I try my very best to teach them is that ballet is certainly not boring, especially if you're doing it properly. In the meantime, enjoy the work!
Reflective Practice makes a Great Teacher!
From: McGraw-Hill Education
"There is one quality above all that makes a good Teacher - the ability to reflect on what, why and how we do things and to adapt and develop our practice within lifelong learning. Reflective practice is the key to successful practice for teachers and for learners. As the LLUK standards make clear, reflection is an underpinning value and is the key to becoming a professional teacher."
This is certainly an ethos which the teachers at Colours of Dance subscribe to - both instinctively and in practice. For example, we all attend courses regularly, we all attend the theatre, we all read all sorts of articles that feed our knowledge banks or cause us to change how we approach something in class. We are also constantly in and out of each others classes too - observing, checking, learning from our peers in a 360-degree way, just so we are the best we can be.
Read the rest of this article here... http://www.mheducation.co.uk/openup/chapters/9780335222407.pdf
Dance is the BEST form of Exercise!!
Read this great article which proves that dance is the best form of exercise!
Dance Back the Years: Angela Rippon explains how dance can help us stay young.
16 June 2016
Over five million of us tuned in to watch the BBC's guide, How to Stay Young earlier this year. The show gave some inspiring insights into the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity in later years and some exciting facts about dancing's involvement! Katie Andrews spoke to one of the show's hosts, Angela Rippon, about her knowledge of dancing and what she learned from the experience. As well as being a famous broadcaster and journalist, Angela has a background in dance and is a member of ISTD Grand Council.
You (and Dr Chris van Tulleken) discovered that there is scientific evidence suggesting that dance is the best method of keeping fit and healthy in later years. Why is dance in particular so beneficial?
I think the show confirmed what we have always guessed, without necessarily having the scientific evidence to back it up, that dance really is the complete mind and body workout at whatever level you do it; from little ones who are going to dance classes to people who are in their mature years, anybody who has ever danced will know it's a great aerobic exercise. It's terrific for balance and flexibility, it builds great core strength and of course you have to remember the steps so it's terrific for your brain as well! But most importantly dance is a wonderfully social thing to do, at whatever level you do it. Dance ticks all the boxes. It was just terrific to have that confirmed by the professors in both Germany and Italy who had done between them different types of scientific testing. The Italian professor showed me that by dancing you can keep your muscles strong and actually increase your muscle tone. The more muscle you've got, and the less fat, means blood pumps more efficiently through your body taking oxygen and nutrients to all the various areas that need it. Whereas exercise in the gym is only concentrated in one area, for example if you're cycling it will be on your legs, you're only exercising a limited or specific group of muscles at any one time, but dance exercises everything. What is wonderful since the show is that I've had emails from people all over the country who were so impressed by the programme that they've gone back to dance classes when they had given it up or hadn't danced for ages. One lady in particular said she was so inspired by what she saw that she put a post on Facebook for people in her area and now has nearly 60 people who all want to come to a dance class! People found the shows really inspirational, seeing that dance was such a terrific way of exercising as you get older and a way of maintaining a youthful body and mind.
“Dance is such a terrific way of exercising as you get older and a way of maintaining a youthful body and mind ”
Tell us more about the group of older dancers in Germany.
Oh they were so enthusiastic! Originally they were only supposed to be part of a six-month test but two years later they are still doing it! That was a lovely thing, proof of that social element, regardless of the fact that they were being used in a social experiment, they just loved going to dance. We were filming with only one group but there were three other classes going on, so that was a demonstration of their enthusiasm: 1. they didn't want to stop and 2. Other people said, “We'd like to get involved ”. It was terrific.
Did you personally learn anything new from the show?
It sounds a bit grand if I say no not really, but I've had a lifetime of keeping fit because of the job that I do. What I did learn though was the value of diet, especially the benefits of the chemical anthocyanin, which is in purple fruit. The research that we did with people in Okinawa, Japan showed that by eating purple fruit: things like blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, and deep red fruits like strawberries and red peppers helps to keep the blood thin and pumping through the body, so when your diet is incorporated with some form of exercise you're doing all the right things to keep your body and your mind in great shape.
“You can do small but important things and take responsibility yourself for your health ”
Are we taking the messages on board?
I think we are; the figures for the programme are very impressive and I can't tell you how many people I had call me to say their whole office were attempting the ‘Sit to Rise Challenge' in episode one. Although there was a lot of science in the show it was accessible science and we made the programme in such a way that nothing was out of reach. I think it has awoken in a lot of people the recognition that you don't have to run a marathon or go to the gym five times a week. You can do small but important things and take responsibility yourself for your health. Whether it's through exercise or what you eat there are fun things that you can do. I think that message is getting across and I think there is a whole group of people in Britain discovering that it's fun to go dancing! There is a growing interest in dance as a way of exercising because it's so much more fun than being in a gym; you come out of a dance class
feeling brilliant and having worked practically every part of your body.
How old were you when you started dancing?
I think I was about four. I had ‘knock' knees and my mum chose to send me to dance classes over built up shoes. I went to a school of dance in Plymouth for a year when I was four and then I went to Valerie Lamb School, taught by Geraldine Lamb and her daughter Valerie. It was a terrific school and I was there from the time I was five or six, where I did Ballet, Tap and Modern right the way through until I was 17.
You're now 71 and looking wonderful. How has dance helped with that?
I don't think when you're young doing something you enjoy that you think about the health properties or anything like that; it's fun and you enjoy it. What it's done for me and for anyone who's ever been to a dance class is that it gives you great confidence and it makes you very body aware. I think you grow up understanding about flexibility and how to carry yourself. Dancers can always walk into a room and whether they know anyone or not they have an air of confidence about them because they have natural wonderful deportment. If you think of all the thousands of young men and women in dance classes who carry that knowledge and understanding
of what their body is capable of into later life, and as a result they probably stay relatively flexible, pretty fit and they will always love dancing. If you've been involved in dance in some way when you are young, though you may not realise it at the time, retrospectively as you grow older that fun and that knowledge stays with you for the rest of your life.
Do you think taking dance exams can help young people stay motivated and keep dancing?
I look back to my own time when I was taking all my medals, at the back of my mind I was thinking I've got my medal for Grade 1, now I've got to get Grade 2. It depends on the individual. If being able to dance, move up and go from one stage to another is what's important and if taking exams helps you to achieve that then yes they are important. But if you're someone who is a bit of a free spirit and just wants to dance then it won't always make a difference. I think it's down to the teacher and the instructors to be able to recognise those children that really value being able to do an exam and challenging themselves all the time and those who are free spirits who just want to be able to dance.
What would you say to those who have never tried dance?
I can't believe that there is anyone that has never danced before, even if it's getting up at a family wedding and shuffling around the floor. There are some people who will say ‘no, that's not for me' but I actually believe that natural rhythm is something that all of us are born with one way or another. There isn't a country or continent in the world where humans haven't been able to move in some way to music and I think all of us are born with that innate ability to dance. Okay, some better than others and some with more enthusiasm than others. But it's just being able to tap into that enthusiasm. It doesn't matter if you've got two left feet, just go out and enjoy yourself.
“There isn't a country or continent in the world where humans haven't been able to move in some way to music and I think all of us are born with that innate ability to dance ”
People look at Strictly Come Dancing, or the ballet and see exceptional bodies doing amazing things and think, I could never do that. People shouldn't be put off by that, they should be able to say, well I can still get up and have fun. Seeing that dance is great exercise and a great social activity is a huge help. You want to be able to say to people, just get up and give it a go, just enjoy yourself. You will never make a fool of yourself on the dance floor because you'll be having so much fun you won't care. Those are the people you need to get through to if you want more people to take up dance as a form of exercise because they'll be having so much fun they won't realise they're exercising; that's the key.
Interview by Katie Andrews
How to Stay Young was originally aired on BBC 2 on 13th May 2016. For more information on the show visit the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0770cpf
Bio-Banding - classes by age or maturity?
Bio-banding could cut risk of injury for ballet dancers, says study
Grouping dancers by physical maturity rather than age could better equip late-maturing girls to deal with intense training
Ballet dancers warm up during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Press Association
Grouping young ballet dancers by their developmental rather than chronological age could help lower their risk of injury, a study has suggested. The technique, known as bio-banding, is growing in prominence for other sports, including football and rugby. Researchers from Bath and Bristol universities said the current practices for grouping and evaluating young dancers could be counterproductive.
The work, which focused on girls, suggests that the late-maturing are potentially placed at a significant disadvantage during important phases of their development and at a greater risk of injury. Ballet teachers have a pivotal role at this time, and further education regarding the implications of puberty upon dance training may be helpful, the researchers said.
Bio-banding: How scientists can help late developers become sporting superstars
Dancers in vocational training are grouped by age and can begin full-time training for up to six days a week from as young as 11. Girls of the same chronological age vary greatly biologically, with some maturing in advance or delay of others.
Ballet has traditionally favoured late-maturing girls, who tend to be slimmer, with less body fat and comparatively longer legs in relation to their torso. But the study, published in the Journal of Adolescence, found that late maturation poses challenges for dancers, with auditioning and an increase in training often coinciding with key developmental stages. This can put young dancers at an increased risk of injury at crucial points in their development, according to the research.
Lead researcher and former ballet dancer, Siobhan Mitchell, a PhD student at Bath University's department for health, said: “Traditionally many people have assumed there is a bias in ballet towards late maturers, but the reality is less clear. Of the teachers we spoke to, many saw late maturation as a disadvantage, as later-maturing girls experience their growth spurt at a point where training schedules become more intense and when auditions take place, which can often make performance difficult.
“Similarly, others considered early maturation as advantageous, as those dancers had already ‘got most of the growing out of the way' and were better placed to perform and cope with a heavier training load during this time.
“These findings point to the importance of further research in this area with the aim going forward to apply these findings to enable dance teachers to better support young dancers as they transition through puberty. ”
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescence, highlighted how time differences in maturing have important implications for talent identification and development, as well as self-esteem.
Dr Anne Haase, of the University of Bristol, said: “The ability of dance teachers to manage maturation in dancers can reflect through the girls' self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities. Finding more positive approaches for dance teachers to support girls through this stage will allow for development of improved self-esteem and confidence in dance. ”
Dr Sean Cumming, of the University of Bath, is working with major sports teams and the English Premier League to develop new bio-banding approaches to selection. “We think there is potential for vocational dance schools to apply some of the elements of bio-banding not only to improve the experiences of dancers and reduce injury risks but also to ensure talent is not wasted, ” he said.
“This is not about favouring late or early-maturing girls, but rather levelling the playing field and providing the most developmentally appropriate learning contexts so that dancers, irrespective of physicality, have the same opportunity and aren't put under undue stress at the wrong points in their development, which can cause injury. ”
The researchers, who are working closely with national dancing body One Dance UK, are planning to develop education resources on the topic of growth and maturation for dance.
Original Article from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/apr/19/bio-banding-could-cut-risk-of-injury-for-ballet-dancers-says-study?CMP=share_btn_link
Article on Biobanding for Sports training: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/dec/19/biobanding-scientists-skinny-kids-sporting-superstars