Bristol Dance Community Centre: I want to dance…

As a result of my huge love of food I have to do some form of regular exercise to avoid becoming as wide as I am tall (I’m only 5’1″ – this could happen quite easily!) Unfortunately, I have never quite developed a love for it; the buzz from exercise fitness loving friends talk of has so far eluded me and I consequently carry out my gym sessions grudgingly. After spending 2 1/2 weeks generally eating my way through Italy in May though, something drastic had to be done to get me back in the “zone”. Solution – a 4 week season ticket at Bristol Community Dance Centre! 🙂

Now, contrary to popular belief from anyone who has seen me throw some shapes on the dance floor, I have never had any professional dance training. (There is potentially a spot of sarcasm in the previous statement…) I do however have a lot of enthusiasm for moving around to great music. Perhaps too much enthusiasm – my dancing was once described as a bit of an obstacle course – trying to get past the flailing arms and legs…. :-S Nonetheless I put all my energy into trying as many dances in a month as possible.

Bristol Dance Community Centre is a charity dedicated to promoting a wide range of different  and multi-cultural dance techniques and encouraging people to participate in dance. Hidden away on Jacob Wells Road, you will be forgiven if you have never heard of Bristol Community Dance Centre, however I walk past it every day so couldn’t ignore my temptation to give it a go. Here’s a summary of my experiences of being completely out of my comfort zone:

1. Zumba – This Latin inspired dance has suddenly gone viral so this is something many of you may have already tried. It’s fast paced and took a lot of concentration to keep up with the teacher – you will get sweaty! I did however spend the majority of the hour with a cheesy grin on my face as I jumped around and shook my booty to Latin tunes. I was also fascinated by the number of songs you could adapt to include the word zumba. 😉

2. Capoeira – A Brazilian martial art combining elements of dance and music, here we were taught to kick and dodge and weave around our partner to the music. You may have seen this demonstrated on a BBC advert years ago – it’s beautiful and fascinating to watch it being performed by professionals, incredibly tricky as a newbie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB6dZX4fE9Y. My once coordinated body completely forgot how to make her legs do something different to her arms whilst concentrating on not kicking her opponent in the head. Also realised I can no longer do a cartwheel. Incredible patient and encouraging teacher despite our lack of skill though.

3. Banghra fitness – Dancing to a song from a Bollywood movie, we were taught the words of which we were acting out through dance (“I have lost my nose stud…”). Unfortunately we focused too much on repeating the same little piece of dance – I would have liked to have learnt more to the routine. Also the music was played via a YouTube clip which kept cutting out and interrupting the class. :-S

4. Beginners yoga – I have been to yoga several times before; the struggle is finding a class at a sensible time in the evening that isn’t incredible expensive. Incredibly relaxing – room was a little cold compared to previous yoga classes I have been to.

6. Hip Hip – As you might have attained from my writing style, I am not the most ‘street’ person out there. In fact I generally get pulled up on my old-fashioned language and frequent use of the word ‘Gosh!’ I did however manage to follow such moves as ‘Bart Simpson’, ‘Janet Jackson’ and ‘TLC’ whilst nodding my head to the beat of the music. With a bit more practice I may also have looked as casual as the dance teacher and less like I was trying to do an Irish jig. I was very glad to be at the back of the class. Loved the interaction at the end when two teams had to challenge the other to remember the steps. Class ended with each having to show off our moves in the middle of the circle – never done this sober before!

7. Afro Brazilian – This was one of my favourites of the month. An amalgamation of popular African and Brazilian dances this involves quick movement of the feet and a lot of hip wiggling and bum shaking. A lot of fun and we were taken through the steps at just the right pace for me to keep up as a beginner.

8. Breakdance – If you thought the description of me at a hip hop class was amusing and cringe-worthy enough, here I was even worse! Quite frankly my body was not made for breakdance, and I spent most of the class looking at the dance teacher in awe at what he was managing to make his body do. Kudos to the teacher for not laughing out loud at my attempts at a monkey flip – a move where you somehow get from a squatting position leaning back on one hand, to on your feet facing the same way by flicking your hips up in the air and twisting. And yes I looked ridiculous as that sounded. Here’s a demonstration (NOT of me): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXwzl0hbegc

The classes are a lot of fun – and the teachers great at taking you through the moves at a beginner’s pace. At £30 for a season ticket; £4.50 for a class – it’s also great value! Now the building needs a bit of love – lets get more people dancing so it can be given a bit of a spruce.

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