Step lively for merry dance

PUBLISHED: 17:42 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:21 04 May 2010

Buntingford Dance School members

Buntingford Dance School members

Have you ever wanted to tread the boards doing a graceful ballet, follow in the footsteps of Fred Astaire and take up tap, or put your best foot ­forward and ­master modern or jazz moves? The Buntingford Dance School can help you learn to overcome your t

Buntingford Dance School members

Have you ever wanted to tread the boards doing a graceful ballet, follow in the footsteps of Fred Astaire and take up tap, or put your best foot ­forward and ­master modern or jazz moves?

The Buntingford Dance School can help you learn to overcome your two left feet to do just that.

The school was founded in 2002 by Philippa McMeechan, as the only teacher of 15 members.

Since then the school has grown significantly, now with nearly eight times its starting intake.

Buntingford Dance School members

Originally a children-only ballet group, five years of progress sees the dance school tutoring adults, and with the resources to run boys-only classes for those who perhaps feel ­intimidated by what is often falsely regarded as a women's ­activity.

The dance school has simultaneously expanded its repertoire of styles.

Philippa believes dancing teaches many different lessons to children, helping them learn other things than simply step sequences.

She said: "We believe dancing is a performing art, and that it is therefore important that the children express themselves.

"We allow them to be ­creative and to make up their own routines."

Benefits of dancing can include increased musicality, heightened coordination, and even improved ­mathematical skills through participants' use of rhythm and timing.

There are definite physical benefits too. Dancing is a good way to get fitter and healthier, as it gives exercise while entertaining and boosts strength, stamina, control, balance and poise.

Philippa believes the social benefits of dancing are also considerable, as group-working methods promote interaction, team-work, and confidence in the pupils.

She said: "They are able to learn self-esteem and respect for others while they are dancing."

Buntingford Dance School performs regular shows.

The group also does ­performances for senior ­citizens, has undertaken charity fund-raising for ­Children In Need, and runs ­choreographic ­competitions for its members.

The majority of the dancing school's classes usually take place on Saturday at Layston School in Buntingford, although additional classes run in Buntingford on ­Tuesday evenings and ­Puckeridge Community ­Centre on Thursday evenings.

Philippa also teaches dance at St Hugh's School, and was examined and commended by OFSTED as part of the school's inspection.

She said: "It was OFSTED's opinion that the standard of teaching was outstanding, so that was a boost for the group."

The dance school enrols children for ballet lessons from the age of three, and tap, modern, and jazz from four.

Members can choose to take formal exams, ­accredited by the Imperial Society of Teachers of ­Dancing, to get their ­increasing proficiency ­recognised by a nationally renowned organisation.

The cost of lessons varies from £3.70 to £5.

Everyone's first class is free, with no obligation.

For more information about Buntingford Dance School, contact Philippa McMeechan on 01763 271010.

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