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The dance class designed to keep you twinkle-toed

A sparkly blonde woman dressed in white is strutting her dance moves with style, and I’m attempting to keep up with her.A red-head who has taken it upon herself to be my ‘support’ in the class smiles encouragingly when I wobble trying to stay up on my toes.Across the room, an enthusiastic woman is the first to begin a fast side-step, while a man in a turquoise turban lifts his legs high to the music.But this is no ordinary dance class. It is a class designed to stop us falling over, part of the Dance to Health programme being pioneered across England for the over-50s.Based on physiotherapy exercises and dance routines, it’s supposed to prevent tumbles, and boost mobility and co-ordination. It’s supposed to be fun, too.But, dear me, what is going on? I had fondly imagined I would be a bit of a star performer. After all, I do a good deal of Pilates and yoga and, at one point, my other half and I went through a craze for tango.But here I am being outdone by my Birmingham classmates.Some are markedly younger than my 76 years, but others have a decade on me, and even the man with acute arthritis and a walking stick seems to be keeping up better than I am.Our teacher, Jenny Murphy, 38, trained and danced with Birmingham Royal Ballet and has been leading Dance to Health classes since it started in 2017. Classes have since sprung up in Cheshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, South Wales and Yorkshire.‘Some people have incapacitating arthritis and are very limited in mobility,’ she says.‘Some have had one or two hip replacements, others have become increasingly anxious about falling when they go out, so it’s important the exercises build strength and confidence.’Jenny adds: ‘Music and dance make what we do enjoyable, as well as help spatial sense and co-ordination. Dancing together with music to lift the spirits builds social bonds, too.’My session is set to George Gershwin’s hits. We begin with warm up exercises — shoulder shrugs, leg lifts, arm stretches — then, before I have time to say pas de deux, we are asked to walk, alternating on toes then heels around the room.Added on is a port de bras where we hold our arms out wide in a (hopefully graceful) ballet pose.There are double side-steps across the floor, designed to raise the aerobic heartbeat, and next we are into a swaying motion with a high-stepping march, walking feet directly in front of each other — much harder than it ...Read more

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