Dance, Dance, Dance!

We caught up with Anna Evans, Co-Manager of Herne Hill’s very own specialist dance shop, Duo Dance (duodance.co.uk)

Anna started ballet aged 5 and never looked back! She worked as a professional dancer for 10 years, starring in West End shows like ‘Me and My Girl’, ‘Zeigfeld’ and ‘Some Like It Hot’. Here Anna talks about the benefits of dance, how to get started, and the shoes and gear you’ll need (without spending a fortune). At the end of this article you’ll find a handy list of all the places you can learn to dance in South East London…

Whether you’re a fan of ‘Strictly’ or ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ you’ll know that dance is fun! It’s also great exercise and you can enjoy dancing at any age. As Anna explains….

“Dance is wonderful exercise! It’s good for the heart, lowering blood pressure.It’s great for your posture and muscle tone, and builds core strength. It releases the chemical Dopamine into the brain, making you feel happier, reducing anxiety. Dance is energising ; however tired you are, you’ll feel less tired afterwards. Dance is really social, too. In dance classes you’re often working together as a team so there is feeling of camaraderie”.

Anna says you are never too young or too old to start dancing:

“You can start dancing age 2 with toddler classes such as Diddi Dance, Baby Ballet and Melody Movement at Herne Hill’s South London Dance Studios. Ballet classes for children normally start at the age 3. I think it’s best to start with Ballet as it is the basis of all dance techniques. Once you have this behind you, all other dance forms will fall easily into place. You can carry on learning to dance into your 90’s. Dance can help older people keep healthy, and is great for people with diabetes, insomnia or dementia. You are never too old to dance!”

“Dancing, like most forms of exercise, release chemicals in the brain that make us feel happy. Add to that great music and the blues will definitely seem further away. Just watch the celebrities on Strictly — how many times do we hear them say, that was the most fun and the best experience I have ever had! I go to Push Studios on a Thursday at 10.45 where a flamboyant and charismatic Kevin Thatcher teaches Dance Fit. It is my weekly tonic and I absolutely love it”.

“I have been co-running Duo Dance with Sue since August 2015. The most popular items we sell are uniform garments for the local dance school and ballet shoes. We are also well known in the Latin and Ballroom Amateur and Professional World. We get people from all over the world coming to the shop and we often see our shoes on the feet of World Champions. Last week, we chatted to a customer who was buying both Ballroom and Latin shoes. By the time she left, we had discovered she had been World Chess Champion 3 times and the reason she danced was that she had been the runner up on Dancing with the Stars, the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing.As well as the obvious, we sell Gymnastic leotards and shoes, Fancy dress wear, cards and some great gifts, including vintage umbrellas decorated with dancers.

“I started Ballet when I was 5 because my sister did. She was the naturally talented one but I had the passion and when I was 16, I knew I wanted to dance. One day I went with my school to see Evita at The Prince Edward Theatre in central London and from that moment that was what I wanted to do. After leaving school, I trained at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom and then worked professionally for 10 years. Back in the 80’s, a dancer had to be a member of Equity to work. 28 weeks work experience was I think the amount of time necessary before you gained a card. To gain my card, I did my first pantomime up in Scotland, a tour of Germany with a pop group and a summer season at the end of the pier in Clacton-on-Sea. Once I was fully equipped I could audition for the sort of jobs I really wanted to do and performed in West End productions and National Tours such as Me and My Girl, Zeigfeld, Gypsy and Some Like it Hot.

“I would go to Pineapple during the day to keep fit and take class and I would pay crazy money for singing lessons. One evening I would be at a top London hotel celebrating a first night of a show I was performing in, a month later I would be signing on the dole and out of work. A life full of ups and downs. You have to be strong to dance, accept criticism and be willing to sweep the stage as well as dance on it!”

Anna explains it is important to get the right gear to dance. You only need a pair of leggings and one top but get something that is breathable and unlike heavy cotton, will dry quickly if you have worked up a sweat. Nothing worse than going home wet and cold. Good shoes again that are breathable and supportive are a must. If you are taking up ballroom, Latin or line dancing try and find a shoe with a suede sole as this will allow you to spin and twirl without twisting a knee or ankle. Many High Street chains provide inexpensive and good sportswear. If you are looking for a specialist shop we have Intersport and Duo Dance here on our doorstep.

So finally we asked Anna- who would you like to see next on Strictly?

“ I would really like to see Micky Flanagan on Strictly. I don’t think that will happen. What about Jenny Eclair? She’d be great”.

We are spoilt for choice in Herne Hill with some great local dance schools:

South London Dance Studios southlondondancestudios.co.uk

Dulwich Ballet School www.dulwichballet.co.uk

Campbell School of Dance in Herne Hill www.campbelldance.co.uk

Leader School of Dance in Norwood SE27 020 8678 7828

McAlpine Dance School in Camberwell www.mcalpinedance.com

Fiona Foster School of Dance in East Dulwich www.fionafosterballet.com

Push Studios in East Dulwich www.pushstudios.co.uk

Eos Dance School in East Dulwich and Peckham eosdance.co.uk/

Perfect Circle in Crystal Palace palacedance.co.uk

The Grafton Dance Centre www.graftondancecentre.co.uk for Ballroom and Latin dance

Slightly Ballroom www.slightlyballroom.co.uk classes at JAPs

There are some great classes for older people which are free or cost as little as £2. ‘Silver London’ offer seated Pilates,and seated and standing dance classes — all with a little “pizzazz”. A suggested donation for these classes is £2.

Check out the following websites for classes for over 50’s

www.2.southwark.gov.uk

www.londondance.com

www.together-uk.org

www.slips-online.co.uk (classes in Lambeth and Southwark)

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