Too few dance teachers

ISABEL COCKAYNE Watch your toes - it could be murder on the dance floor soon. There are rising numbers of would-be ballroom dancers looking for help to sort out their two left feet - but they are struggling to find teachers.

ISABEL COCKAYNE

Watch your toes - it could be murder on the dance floor soon.

There are rising numbers of would-be ballroom dancers looking for help to sort out their two left feet - but they are struggling to find teachers.

Since Strictly Come Dancing hit the TV screens, young and old have flocked to dance classes in the region.

But teachers say the disinterest in partner dancing in the 70s and 80s meant there were fewer ex-ballroom dancers to meet the growing demand.

West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds has said that it cannot find a teacher for a ballroom-dance class. At Norwich's UEA Sports Park, too many other activities have squeezed out the possibility of holding a dance class there, although there are plenty at the university's Congregation Hall during the week.

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Ballroom-dancing doyenne Peggy Spencer's classes in Gaywood and those held at the schools run by Lynn Miller, in Norwich and Lowestoft, and by Jennie Lee of Ludham Dance School, near Norwich, have seen their class sizes soar. In Miss Miller's case, they have shot up from 15 in every class before Strictly Come Dancing to 80 people in each now.

Continuing-education co-ordinator at West Suffolk College Mary Taylor said: "We would love to start a class in Bury . . . People can see that you don't have to have a lot of previous experience - or natural grace - to enjoy dancing and get a lot out of it."

Mrs Spencer, of King's Lynn, said there was a downturn in the number of people ballroom dancing when disco and pop music became popular. As a result, she said: "There is a shortage of teachers in this area and I get a continuous stream of telephone calls asking for ballroom and Latin dancing classes."

Mrs Miller said: "We needed this regeneration of interest in ballroom dancing to get youngsters to come into it. Without the youngsters, there are no teachers for the future." She said there were only 10 dance schools in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge.

Miss Lee said Strictly Come Dancing "had done wonders" for ballroom dancing. Last year, younger people started going to her classes but this year there has been a resurgence in the number of older people joining classes. Miss Lee guessed it was because Strictly Come Dancing is up against The XFactor

Maria Rowe, assistant director of the Sports Park at the UEA, said: "Strictly Come Dancing has opened people's eyes that it can be fun. We have a modern jazz course and we have had inquiries from one teacher who wanted to hire our dance studio. But it was just chock-a-block with other bookings."

Anyone interested in teaching a beginners' class at West Suffolk College, or enrolling in a dance class, should call 01284 716348 or visit the college website on www.westsuffolk.ac.uk

Peggy Spencer holds classes at 7.30pm on Tuesdays and a tea dance at 2.30pm on Thursdays at the Gaywood Community Centre.

Call Miller Dance Centre in Norwich for class details on 01603 488249.

Miss Lee can be contacted on 01692 678367.

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