Classes show ballet is ‘not just for girls in pink tutus’

Adult intermediate ballet class at The Old Fire Station. The class is pictured with instructor Lesley Tunstall, back far right Picture: OX65498 Jon Lewis

Adult intermediate ballet class at The Old Fire Station. The class is pictured with instructor Lesley Tunstall, back far right Picture: OX65498 Jon Lewis Buy this photo

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

BALLET is for little girls dancing around on stage in pink tutus, right?

Wrong, according to a number of instructors who say they have seen a rise in the number of adults taking up the dancing style.

Expression Dance principal Sarah Taylor, 31, said: “There’s a big community of adult dancers in Oxford.

“It’s a great way of improving fitness and having fun. There are a lot of people who wanted to do it when they were younger but never did “There’s a social aspect too.”

Mrs Taylor runs four classes each week at the Old Fire Station, in George Street, and has about 50 students ranging from beginners to advanced.

She said Dancin’ Oxford Festival, which begins today, has had a big influence in engaging people.

Mrs Taylor said newcomers are often nervous but they gain confidence by learning new skills.

She said: “It’s nice to see that kind of realisation on their faces that they can do it. “I think they expect to walk into a class full of ballerina types dressed in little leotards but it’s not like that at all. They are all different ages, sizes and backgrounds.”

Oxford City School of Dance principal Laura Addison, 27, runs four classes and says she has found ballet to be more popular in Oxford than other areas of the country.

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She said: “There are quite a few classes in Oxford. It attracts certain types of people, who are often academics or students who continue to dance after university.

“There’s definitely been a rise in beginners joining since the film Black Swan came out in 2010 and with TV programmes like Strictly Come Dancing.

“You can get a lot out of ballet, whatever level of fitness you’re at.”

East Oxford School of Ballet principal Penny Cullerne-Brown said she has seen more beginners interested in joining. She said: “Perhaps it’s because dancing is a popular way of gaining fitness rather than just going to the gym, and they like the classical music.”

Instructor Lesley Tunstall said: “The adults are there to have fun and really find a wonderful way of expressing themselves. “It’s such a lovely community of dancers and a great way for them to take the stress out of everyday lives.”

Student Sarah Lidwell-Durnin, 35, of Barrett Street, Oxford, recently joined Expression Dance as a beginner.

The mother-of-two said: “I got involved because I did ballet as a child and I didn’t get to continue with it. When I was looking for classes for my daughters I noticed there were adult classes as well.”

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