It seems more and more Fylde coast residents are enjoying time at their favourite barre.
Adult ballet classes are proving a big hit at Blackpool’s Whittaker Dance and Drama Centre, on Hornby Road. And dance teacher Sheila Norbury says it’s not surprising, given it’s a form of exercise suitable for all ages and levels – with a host of benefits to boost well-being.
Sheila said: “It’s really grown in popularity. The class is so suitable for everybody. One of the ladies turns 80 this year, there are a whole range of ages – including younger women.
“It’s for all backgrounds and levels. We have some ex-dancers, other ladies who used to do ballet as children and wanted to come back to it, and some who always wanted to do ballet but never had the chance.
“Everyone can work at their own level, it can be as gentle or intense as they choose and there are adaptations and alternatives to suit everybody.
“There are so many physical benefits – it’s great for the core and posture, strengthening muscles and keeping fit generally. Moving to the music is a wonderful thing, and of course improving coordination and learning new skills is beneficial. And we have fun. Exercise should be about fun.”
Sheila was taught ballet by her mum throughout childhood and adult life.
She said: “When you are taught by someone as inspirational as she was, it’s great to give students who did not know Miss Whittaker her valuable expertise.”
Among those who take part is Joan Staveley, of North Shore, aged 79. She said the ballet sessions make her “feel young again.”
She said: “I was a bit scared of going at first, as I’m 80 this year. But I needed to do more exercise and be more healthy as I am diabetic. I have two granddaughters who have been going to Whittakers since they were three years old.
“They suggested I try ballet, I’m so glad I did. I always wanted to do it when I was younger and never had the chance.
“There is so much improvement, in my legs, in how I feel. It works my whole body, from top to toe. I can’t do it like the 18-year-olds, but you can learn at your own pace. I couldn’t do a pirouettes at first, but now I can. It’s such good exercise, it’s for everybody and such a friendly class, everybody helps each other.”
Fellow class member Alison Tickle said: “I started taking part when I moved to the area from St Helens. Sheila is a great motivator, so encouraging and there is a lovely, family atmosphere in the class. Ballet is such a great form of escapism – it takes your mind away from things. I really enjoy the class – I never miss my Tuesday nights!”