22 October 2008

Contemporary dance

If you ever need a wake-up call that you're middle-aged, try signing up for a contemporary dance class.

I arrived full of bravado at Jazzart Dance Studio for my six-week course in contemporary dance, and told Jackie, the instructor, that I had 20 years' dance experience. This was a mistake.

The day after my first class, I was walking like a duck in agony and made disturbing groaning noises which didn't go down too well in Health24's open-plan office.

After the second class, I had to go for physio. Five minutes into the session, I could only move in a straight line – even the slightest sideway movement was excrutiating and, much to my embarrassment, I had to ask Jackie if I could watch for the rest of the class.

I'm sure that she was by then very skeptical about my so-called dance history.

It was there, on the sideline, that it suddenly dawned on me that I was 20 years older than the average student in the class. Now everything made sense.

A dose of moderation
Having come to the realization that I'm no longer a spring chicken, I took things very slowly in the next class.

Since then, I've been enjoying every minute of it – thanks to a large dose Myprodol (taken prior to the class) and wise moderation. I discovered that the classes are fun and challenging and provide a great full-body workout. Gradually, I started to build up confidence in my body and my ability.

Those who know me well, know that it is highly unusual for me to use the words "fun" and "workout" in the same sentence. It just doesn't happen. I loathe exercise and cannot really understand why anyone would willingly tire themselves. But dance is the exception because I can concentrate on the movements and the music and don't even realise that I'm exercising.

Jackie was vibrant and encouraging and didn't mind me asking her to repeat steps over and over again.

Free, funky and playful
Jazzart developed as a fusion of Western and African dance forms. This dance form is free, funky and playful, and incorporates a lot of floor work in its jumps and turns. Although all teachers adhere to the same principles, they are encouraged to develop and teach their own style.

This adds to the variety at Jazzart. Not only is a new routine taught every week, every teacher also introduces you to new techniques.

According to John Linden, director: "Dance opens up your whole body; movement opens your brain and allows you to think more clearly. It is the perfect way to relax after a day in the office: just get away from everything and sweat it out."

Jazzart describes itself as being "for people of all ages who wish to live in the moment at the edge of the future". Classes offered include those for children on Saturday mornings, and evening classes for adolescents and adults twice a week.

For more information: or (021) 410 9848.

– Ilse Pauw, Health24, October 2008


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