IT'S THE WEEKEND: Gwent dancers join ballroom blitz
10:40am Saturday 12th October 2013 in News
OUR television screens are overrun with people showing off their dancing talents, and many viewers have been inspired to find out if they have what it takes to learn a new skill.
Taking part in their first beginners ballroom and Latin dance lesson with Dance World in Lower Dock Street, Newport, were Gail Blewitt and Kay Rottier.
Ms Rottier, 56, from Coed Eva in Cwmbran decided to join to lose weight.
She said: “I needed to find an exercise that I liked as I hate going to the gym, and then I thought about dancing as I used to enjoy it but hadn’t done it for years “I love watching Strictly Come Dancing on TV and it made me think if they can do it so can I.”
Following the one hour dance session, she added: “I loved it. I worked up a sweat as it’s quite a demanding workout, but it’s very enjoyable.
“It’s a laugh a minute.”
Mrs Blewitt, 57, added: “It was fabulous, we had a right laugh. It’s always nerve-wracking when you walk into a new class but once you’re there it’s great.
“I love Strictly Come Dancing on the TV and you always think I can do that but we couldn’t even do the basics but we gave it our best shot.”
Mrs Blewitt explained that after suffering a heart attack in 2011, she had tried going back to aerobics classes for exercise, but wasn’t enjoying it.
She said: “The dance class was great as you don’t even realise how much exercise you are doing.
“It’s also social and a great opportunity to get out and meet new people.”
Also attending for the first time was Michelle Newton, 44, from St Julian’s.
She enrolled her two daughters, age seven and 10, at Dance World a couple of years ago and was inspired to give it a go herself.
She said: “I really enjoyed it. We did a cha-cha-cha, jive and a foxtrot, but it was harder than I expected but will be going back again to learn more steps.”
She explained that she now understands the effort that the youngsters put in to learn the routines.
She added: “It’s good for children as it teaches them discipline, gives them good posture and gives them confidence.
“I think that dance is a hobby that is suited to all the age groups and everyone should give it a go.”
Dance World was founded by Anne Watkins and her late husband Glyn in 1995.
They had been teaching since 1966 in various halls when they decided to set up a base for classes and Dance World was formed.
Ms Watkins is an international adjudicator and lecturer, a fellow and examiner in the U.K.A. qualified in ballroom, Latin American, sequence, freestyle, western and Argentine.
She started dancing when she was 10, specialising in sequence dancing and training to a professional level.
She met her husband at the dance school and they became dance partners winning the British Championship twice.
She said: “Once we started Dance World from the Newport base things took off.”
She said that television shows have revived people taking up dancing as it brings it to the forefront of people’s minds when they see it and then they want to give it a go themselves. One of the class’s success stories is Hannah Maloney, 21, who started training with Dance World when she was four.
Miss Maloney, from Croesyceiliog in Cwmbran, explained that when she was seven she started doing competitions and two years ago she took professional dancing exams and now teaches two nights a week with Dance World.
She said: “I started off doing general lessons but started competing in classical sequence, now I’m training to do exams in Latin and ballroom.
“I’m really enjoying teaching and Anne really kept me motivated.”
Another success story is Lee Godwin, 27, who started dancing at the age of eight.
He explained that his mum and sister used to attend a local class as a hobby and they asked him if he wanted to go along.
He first tried it at the age of seven, but decided it wasn’t for him, but it was a different story when he tried it a year later.
He started off learning sequence dancing and also took on ballroom and Latin when he joined Dance World at the age of ten.
He said: “I got straight into competing and have won various titles over the years including The British Junior Open Championship at 15, also the under 21’s category and the amateur section.”
When Mr Godwin, from Swffryd in Blaenau Gwent, first started dancing there were not any male dancers in his class, but over the years this has changed.
He said: “TV shows have raised awareness of it being a competitive sport and also advertised the social side of dancing.”
Unfortunately he had to give up competing a year ago, due to his career commitments as a Torfaen Council IT employee, adding that he just doesn’t have the time to commit every evening to dance.
But he hopes to one day be able to pass on his dancing skills and is studying for his teaching exams.
He said: “I did it as a hobby and I found the competitive side of it addictive, which kept me interested over the years and I enjoyed meeting people at competitions. Back in the day I was one of the best, and loved making my teachers proud. I would like to see someone I have taught follow in my footsteps.”
As well as a range of dance classes run throughout the week, Dance World also runs private tuition.
Ms Watkins explained that a lot of the time it’s people wanting to learn a routine for their first dance at their wedding.
She said: “People are often quite surprised to hear that it is the men that contact us wanting to learn. It’s lovely that people make an extra special effort for their special day.”
A popular choice of music that people want to dance to is The Time of My Life from the film Dirty Dancing. The grandmother of Abigail and Luke Bowvitch, who continues to teach four days a week, added: “If you can walk you can dance.
“As long as people are enjoying the classes then they will learn.”
For more information about the dance classes visit danceworldnewport.co.uk
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