WHETHER you're hot to foxtrot or ready to rumba, North Devon offers the most amazing array of dance classes. Just look at the list below (a small snapshot of the many styles you can discover) and find something you fancy. 2013 could be your year to get fit, have fun, get the feel-good factor and learn some fab new moves.
DESPITE the name, American Tribal Style (ATS) is nothing to do with Red Indians or totem poles. This follow-my-leader style of belly dance was born in California in the Seventies. It's a group improvisation using moves based on, and influenced by, various ethnic dance styles, but principally Arabic, Flamenco and Indian.
"The dance group is the 'tribe' and using a set dance vocabulary and system of cues and signals, a leader directs the choreography," says teacher Berni Smoczynska. "This style is a wonderfully fresh approach to dance, which keeps you well and truly in the moment as the dance is totally organic and nobody is entirely sure what is going to happen within the dance until it does. The dance style and the costuming that goes with it is flattering and fun for women of any age, shape or size."
Once you have learned the combinations, the theory is that you are able to join in with any tribe across the world and dance the same moves altogether.
A total beginners class will start in Combe Martin at the end of January. Details: Berni Smoczynska 07813 565705 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Ballroom and Latin:
IF YOU are inspired by Strictly, a North Devon dance couple are qualified to teach you all the moves. Carol Phillips and Kevin Guymer run ballroom and Latin classes in Fremington and Barnstaple.
Kevin started ballroom dancing at 17 and went on to take his teaching qualifications with the ISTD (The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in London). Carol, meanwhile, has a ballet background and danced professionally in the UK and abroad. She studied at the Royal Ballet School and gained her Solo Seal. She took up ballroom and salsa after she retired from professional dancing and subsequently met her soulmate Kevin at a salsa class.
"We decided to start teaching together about 18 months ago and it started off with one lesson a week and this has grown to the current four lessons per week."
Ballroom and Latin Dancing classes are held at Fremington Church Hall on Thursdays from January 17. Beginners' sessions run from 7 to 8pm. Cost: £5. Intermediates run from 8 to 10pm. Cost: £7.50.
Friday classes start on January 11, 8 to 10pm, at the Methodist Church Hall, Sticklepath. Cost: £7.50.
Details: Carol Phillips ARAD or Kevin Guymer AISTD on 01271 860145. E-mail: cphillips1@talk talk.net or kevguy email@example.com
IF YOU fancy tapping in to your exotic side and unleashing your sensuality while increasing your fitness, belly dance classes can be a great giggle, according to Rosanna Rothery, teacher at Braunton Belly Dance Club.
"First and foremost, I like my classes to be a great girls' night out," she says. "All our routines are super glamorous, fusing the sizzling hip action and smouldering shimmies of belly dance with other fun styles such as burlesque, Bollywood, Latin, hip hop, gothic, tribal and more. Choreographies work you hard, but you may not even notice it because you'll be having such a laugh, shimmying those hips and enjoying some gorgeous new moves. Plus, there's all the fun of the costumes – our informal get-togethers are a great excuse to dress up, if you fancy it."
This term, club members are learning an elegant, stylish Tribal Fusion which combines powerful hip isolations with beautiful flowing arm movements.
"It's the place to come if you want to learn how to do explosive hip isolations as well as beautiful wave-like undulations through your body. And, I have to just confess, this choreography is the most amazing ab workout I've ever done."
Teacher Anne Marie Wilson agrees belly dancing is a fantastic fun way to get fit, lose weight and shape up.
"Belly Dancing tones your abs and you can literally shimmy off the fat," she says. "Learning to belly dance involves using muscles in your body that you have probably never used before and may feel awkward at first, but a little practice and a lot of support from your fellow belly dancers can go a long way."
Anne believes the most important element of a belly dance class is the boost to self esteem.
"We want you to feel comfortable in your own skin and celebrate your curves – where else can you let it all go and feel great about yourself?"
And Anne stresses you don't need to expose your belly in your class.
"Don't worry about getting your belly out just wear comfortable clothing," she adds. "If you want to release your inner diva come and try one of our classes."
Rosanna Rothery's Braunton Belly Dance Club, which is open level and welcome to all, meets at Braunton Parish Hall from Wednesday, January 16, 7.30 - 9.30pm and runs for 10 weeks. First class for newcomers is free. Cost: two-hour classes are £30 for a block of five weeks or £7 per class. Details: Rosanna on 01271 325793 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Wilson's classes include beginners on Tuesdays, 6 to 7pm at Barnstaple Rugby Club and an all-levels class on Wednesday, 7.45 to 9.15pm at Bideford Angling Club. Details: Anne on 07791 568340 or access the website, www.dancefitdevon.co.uk, to download a half price class voucher. Cost: £5 per session.
NO experience or partner is needed at Bideford Folk Dance Club – just a desire to have a good time. The club was started more than 60 years ago by Jo Trapnell, (who is still a member) but has recently been taken over by Chris Jewell, who calls and instructs for each dance. The group learn a mixture of English, Irish, Scottish and American dances in many different formations.
"It's social, it's about keeping fit and it's fun," says Chris. "We always have a laugh. It's not too serious. People go wrong all the time and it really doesn't matter."
Bideford Folk Dance Club meets at Northam Hall on Wednesday during school term time from 7.30 to 9.30pm. Cost: £3. Details: 01237 423554.
NIKKI Carter's love of Irish dancing began when she was eight.
"I put on a video of Michael Flatley's Feet of Flames and that was it. I was hooked. To me it was just the most amazing thing I had ever seen and the music was so infectious it made me want to get up and dance. I knew then and there I had to do this."
Nikki trained in the Stanley School of Irish dancing and now teaches it to others.
"Irish dance builds self esteem and provides a creative outlet to children and adults alike," she says. "It is a very rewarding activity that teaches discipline, develops character, instils dedication, and builds confidence, all the while making lasting friendships and memories."
Nikki also believes it is an excellent form of physical exercise with many benefits.
"It will improve cardiovascular fitness and stamina; it will strengthen and tone your muscles and will develop coordination and body control."
Anyone interested in Irish dancing gets their first session free. Cost: £4.60 (adult).
Adult classes are held every Saturday, 3pm at Devon Youth Service, The Yard Community Centre, Braunton. Children's classes every Wednesday, 4.30pm at Devon Youth Service, The Yard Community Centre, Braunton, starting January 23. Children's classes every Monday, 4pm at The Living Tree Centre in Barnstaple, starting January 28.
Details: Nikki on 07402 912164, e-mail email@example.com or by visiting www.themagicofir ishdance.yolasite.com
SUE Bater of Let's Dance Jive always loved dancing and wanted to learn to jive because it looked so much fun.
"It's just great to get out on the dancefloor and dance with other like minded people and have a great night out," she says.
She now teaches classes in Barnstaple and Bishops Nympton.
"It is easy to learn, great fun and you meet new people."
Sue teaches modern jive danced to contemporary music. You don't need to take a partner to these lively and fun classes.
"It's a full workout without all the hard work.
"It builds confidence and widens your social circle. Everyone is welcome to join us. It's your chance to dance."
Matt Cawsey, who helps run Atlantic Jive at East-the-Water, thinks jive is particularly fun style of dancing.
"People should come and try it as it is a brilliant way of meeting people and making new friends," he says. "It can help build confidence, coordination and communication. Ultimately, the people who continue attending the classes find it fun, and we have many comments about how friendly and welcoming the group is."
Matt believes jiving can burn anywhere between 200 - 500 Kcal an hour (depending on the person) so it is a brilliant way of maintaining a good weight.
"It can also improve your stamina, as some nights you may find you don't get much of a chance to sit down, as many people are asking you to dance with them."
Let's Dance Jive is on Mondays at the Ex-Services and Social Club, Barnstaple. Doors open 7.45pm. Beginners class : 8.15 to 9pm. Improvers class: 9.30 to 10pm. Followed by dancing until 11pm.
Entrance: £5 for the evening.
Let's Dance Jive is on Wednesdays at Roundswell Community Centre, Barnstaple. Doors open 7.20pm. Beginners class: 7.30 to 8.30pm. Improvers class: 8.45 to 9.30pm. Followed by dancing until 10pm. Entrance: £4 for the evening.
Let's Dance Jive is on Tuesdays at Bishops Nympton Village Hall. Doors open 7.45pm. Beginners class: 8 to 9pm. Followed by dancing until 9.30pm.
Details: 0781 7144292 or e-mail info@lets dancejive.co.uk
Website: www.lets dancejive.co.uk
Atlantic Jive is on Wednesdays at Pollyfield Centre, East-the-Water, Bideford.
Doors open at 8pm. There's a beginners class from 8.30 to 9pm before half an hour of freestyle. An intermediate class at 9.30pm until 10pm is followed by an hour of freestyle until 11pm. Cost: £5 (£4 concession) per class. Details: 0759 2766871 or e-mail atlanticjive @live.com, http:// atlanticjive.wix.com/modernjive
MIRANDA Goldring hasn't looked back since her first pole dancing lesson and now teaches it to others.
"It made me feel good, and more confident," she says. "I noticed a real change in my body shape and I enjoy the challenge it gives me. I am always striving to achieve for the next new pole move or combo."
When she first started she thought she would never even be able to get upside down, let alone get to advanced level or go on to compete at national level.
"Besides the massive fitness benefits, it's simply just great fun. It will boost your confidence and make you smile. People always think, 'I am too big, too old, too unfit, not flexible enough, I can't wear shorts' but pole can be for anyone. There is no set age or size. We welcome everyone and will help you to achieve the new you. So out with the excuses and in to class."
According to Amanda pole fitness helps with cardio, strength training and endurance.
"It is great for toning up. You really feel like you have worked out after and get a great sense of achievement when you finally get that move you have worked so hard for. We do a lot of stretching, so you will get more flexible, as a lot of pole moves require flexibility too. Pole can help you lose weight particularly our pole circuits class which is more cardio, and will work up a sweat."
Pole Fitness classes run every evening in Barnstaple. Plus in Bideford on Wednesday at 6.30pm and Ilfracombe on Thursday at 7.15pm.
There is a bootcamp on Tuesday at 8pm and Fridays at 6.15pm. Cost: £3 for half hour of intense interval training. Fitness yoga runs on Monday at 7.45pm and Friday at 5.30pm. Cost: £4. Details: www.pole-affinity.com or phone Miranda on 0779 0575811.
SIZZLING salsa classes are run by Carol Phillips and Kevin Guymer in Fremington.
"Kevin and I are both passionate about dancing, it not only keeps you fit but it is great fun," says Carol. "It improves your mood, posture and self confidence and it is a really great way of meeting nice people socially in a friendly and relaxed environment. I have personally made some super friends through dancing and we have a lot of fun."
Last autumn they organised a group outing to Blackpool to dance at the Tower Ballroom and took 13 people with them.
"We had a really great time and we are now working on organising a new dance break in the coming year."
Salsa classes are every Tuesday at Fremington Church Hall starting on Tuesday, January 15. Beginners' sessions run 7.30 to 8.30pm. Freestyle is 8.30 to 9pm. Improvers run from 9 to 10pm. Freestyle is from 10 to 10.15pm. Cost: £5 for one lesson or £7 for both.
Details: Contact: Carol Phillips and Kevin Guymer on 01271 860145.
E-mail: cphillips1@talk talk.net or kevguy firstname.lastname@example.org
Scottish Country Dancing:
IF YOU fancy a spring fling then Scottish country dancing could be a great way to have fun and meet new people. And no, you won't need to take along a partner or wear a kilt.
"Anybody can come at any time," says Fremington Scottish Country Dancer's welcoming organiser Margie Lidstone. "We welcome people who are on holiday and those who might just like to drop in for that week."
According to Margie who has enjoyed Scottish dancing for six decades: "It's good fun, it's good exercise, it's good socially and unlike ballroom you don't have to have a partner. You really get out of the class what you put in so you could go at a slower pace or you could be rather energetic."
Fremington Scottish Country Dancers, an all abilities class, meets on Tuesdays, 7.30 to 9.30pm at Fremington Parish Hall. Classes started again on January 8. Cost: £2 per evening. Details: Margie Lidstone 01271 373975
PERHAPS you've always secretly fancied stepping out with bit of fancy footwork à la Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
"Tap dancing is great fun for any age or ability, mild exercise and very good exercise for the brain," said tap teacher Helen Cole who caters for any ability from beginner to improver.
In her hour-long Barnstaple class she teachers a little bit of choreography each week, which builds into a full routine by the end of the course.
"Previous dances have been All that Jazz with hats, singing in the rain with umbrellas, Have You Met Miss Jones? and many more," says Helen. "I have been teaching tap for about ten years and I love seeing people grow in confidence and co-ordination. It gives me great pleasure. Everyone is welcome to come along and learn something new and join this fun, friendly group. I do have some spare tap shoes to borrow if you don't have your own."
Tap Dancing started on Monday, January 7. Beginners at 7.30pm and Improvers at 8.30pm at Livingwells Church, Braunton Road, Barnstaple. Each course runs for 11 to 12 weeks. Cost: £4.25 per class or 12 classes for £45. Details: Helen Cole on 01271 379756 or 0793 0386727.
This is just a snapshot of some of the many fabulous dance classes on offer in North Devon. Turn to our listings pages each week to discover more.