Strictly Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 10:24 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 February 2013

Pole dancing - good exercise and not just for strip clubs!

Pole dancing - good exercise and not just for strip clubs!

Forget Strictly Come Dancing, Suffolk now boasts all sorts of dance classes, from burlesque to ballet for the over 60s. Georgina Wroe reached for her leg warmers to discover more about the county's movers and shakers

Forget Strictly Come Dancing, Suffolk now boasts all sorts of dance classes, from burlesque to ballet for the over 60s. Georgina Wroe reached for her leg warmers to discover more about the countys movers and shakers

Since Jerwood DanceHouse threw open its doors last year on its stunning four-studio centre, on the site of the old Cranfields Mill on the Ipswich waterfront, it seems the county has gone bopping bonkers. Whether its an Argentinian tango, or a burlesque chair routine there are lessons to suit all ages, shapes and sizes.
Here we look at just a few of the classes enjoyed by enthusiastic dance students of all ages ...


Fast becoming one of the most popular ways to keep fit and learn a new skill, belly dancing lessons are available in most Suffolk locations.
Teacher Leanne Carrington-Payne said: When people hear the word bellydance, theres usually sniggers and sly looks, but in all honestly its reputation is not to be believed.
Leanne, who teaches the eastern dance every Tuesday in Wickham Market, went on: The dances roots were more likely to come from a rhythmic dance intended to ease young girls period pains than anything to do with a scantily-clad harem.
People forget that in most Middle Eastern cultures men and women are kept quite separate and therefore, women dancing as a form of celebration would be an ideal time to have fun, let your hair down and play match-maker looking out for a future daughter-in-law!

Belly dancing lessons take place every Tuesday evening in Wickham Market village hall. For more details call Leanne on 07796 087255.


If you are female and in your 60s its heartening to discover there are more things you can do with a chair than reupholster it. The Fitness Units burlesque chair dance class caters for all ages, fitness levels and shapes.
Teacher Anita Bond said: As well as being a great girls night out, the burlesque chair dance is great toning exercise for the whole body. We teach you how to shimmy, bump and grind and perform a seductive routine to a well known track. It is very good for those wanting to tone up the whole body as well as having a good laugh.
Burlesque has its roots in Vaudeville when women removed their dress cuffs while coming off stage in full view of the audience. It wasnt long before the innocent tease became sexier.
Anita said: Our classes are always booked up well in advance. Its an all-female class, no males are present when the class is on. Although classes for men are available on request, she added.

For more details call The Fitness Unit, Felixstowe Road, on 01473 715 243.


From the seedy back streets of Buenos Aries, where it was danced by prostitutes, villains and low-paid workers, the Argentinian tango has made it all the way to Ipswich. And, while most would-be dancers have marvelled at Strictlys Flavia and Vincent, its refreshing to discover the tango is not ballrooms most difficult routine.
Teacher Maurice White said: Its not as tricky as you might think. The most difficult thing to master, especially for the woman, is balance. She might be standing on one leg while the man rotates around her.
Thanks to shows like Strictly, the tango is back in the headlines with its popularity booming with tango sessions at Caf Milonga in Colchester attracting students and office workers.
We can have difficulty finding the right venue. Unlike other dances where you lift your feet, a lot of the tangos moves involve feet being dragged so we need a very even floor.

For more details visit or www.eastanglian


While Burlesque enjoys a saucy reputation, pole dancing is evokes a far seedier though some claim unwarranted image.
Former Tiller girl Dawn Vickerage, who has danced with Danny La Rue, has taught pole dancing in Suffolk for three years.
She said: Its a shame that people think of pole dancing and it conjures up strip clubs from the 80s, because it can be a great boost to womens confidence.
We have ladies of all ages taking part in the classes. Its great training for upper body strength, because youve got to be able to lift your own body weight. As you progress, its also great for the inner thigh as you squeeze the pole.
Women report feeling empowered by the classes, even buying a pole to practise on at home, she added. As well as classes, Dawn teaches private lessons and hen parties.

Beginners classes, booked as a six-week course start on Wednesday, May 18 at Moreton Health Club, Bury St Edmunds. For more details and lessons for intermediates and advanced visit


If you missed out on ballet lessons as a youngster, its not too late to reach for the tutu. One of DanceEasts newest and hottest dance classes is aimed at ballet for the over 60s.
Teacher Marie Davies said: There are some in the class who have never danced before and age is certainly not going to put them off.
The hour and a half lesson every Wednesday improves concentration, mobility and stamina, she said.
Mary, who trained as a dancer and has performed for the last 12 years, went on: You can be any level of fitness and you will see improvement you might not end up auditioning for the Royal Ballet, but you will be see an improvement as you become much more familiar with the exercises.
Women, and the occasional man, also take part for social reasons, with a core group of seven devotees who rarely miss a lesson.

Glorious takes place at the Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich every Wednesday at 6.15pm. For more details call 01473 295242.


If you want to experience more from two weeks in Marbella than a plate of paella and a donkey hat, then learning the art of flamenco may be for you.
Flamenco expert Juliet Aster has been teaching the dance in the region for the past decade, her current class taking place at DanceEast on the Ipswich Marina Waterfront.
She said: The class is an open level, suitable for beginners and elementary, accompanied each week by flamenco guitarist Allan Ward.
Students learn to understand and work with the complex rhythms and phrasing found in flamenco music and dance, which is often syncopated and in contra tiempo (against the beat).
I teach this fundamental element in ways that are easy to understand, giving students the skills to feel confident with the choreography and footwork and so they can enjoy the freedom to dance with feeling.
Psychology student Ruth McGrath, from Felixstowe, said: Ive done other dance classes before but this is by far my favourite. Its incredibly difficult and you really have to concentrate. It means when you go to Spain, even if you cant join in, you have a huge appreciation of the dance.
Juliet said: There is no need to book in advance, just come along, bringing clothes you can move freely in, and shoes with a small strong heel, but no stilettos please!

For more details call Juliet Aster 07919 932281 or turn up at the Dance East Red Shoes studio every Friday from 6.30-8pm

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