Hip hop lesson loosens up the squad

VIDEO Getting down with the groove, to master some cool moves was the aim.Much laughter and comedy poses were the result, as the Spring Into Summer crew lost some inhibitions to get to grips with hip hop dancing.

By Tracey Sparling

OUR squad are already on Week Eight of the ten-week fun fitness programme Spring into Summer. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports on this week's challenge - hip hop dance.

GETTING down with the groove, to master some cool moves was the aim.

Much laughter and comedy poses were the result, as the Spring Into Summer crew lost some inhibitions to get to grips with hip hop dancing.

Many had never stepped into a dance studio before, and were faced by a wall of mirrors at Northgate Arts Centre.

The idea was to loosen up and get jumping to the beat. The squad had to imagine the ceiling was lowered, to bob and duck their way through the routine.

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Instructor Wendy Dow took them step-by-step through some of the key moves, including an arm wave from one fingertip to the other.

Then the routine was woven together, ending with a mean-looking pose which everyone had to find to suit themselves. Steve 'Hatman' Cunningham managed to look 'the baddest', Wendy decided.

Hip hop culture, including rapping, scratching, graffiti and breakdancing emerged from The Bronx, New York in the 1970s. Many residents were originally from the West Indies and threw huge parties outdoors, with loud music from expensive stereos bringing the community together.

Wendy danced the very different discipline of ballet until the age of 19, when a trip to America inspired her to take up hip hop. She said: “Over there they dance in the shopping malls, and get really into it. “They think of it as fun, whereas here we wouldn't dream of dancing in the shopping centre!”

Now she teaches a range of dance including jazz, and although classes are for those aged 14 plus, many adults take part.

She said: “I have dancers who are 14, 22, 42, 52 and the oldest is a 69-year-old lady who is double pirouetting now. The kids say what they've been up to and then their mums and grandparents want to have a go too.

“People come in with perceptions about what hip hop is going to be like, but confidence is the key. When you think and look confident you're on the right track.

“When you have a laugh you are too busy having fun, to realise that you're getting hot and sweaty, and your heart and lungs are having a workout, as well as your legs and bum.

“Everything else goes out of your head and an hour flies by. If you think of it that way, you're halfway there!”

Ironing is actually one of the best calorie burners, but an hour's intensive dance lesson will burn 400-500 calories - the equivalent of a meal.

Wendy said: “The squad all gave it 100 per cent. I couldn't have asked for any better than that.

“It helps that they had rhythm and I wouldn't call them beginners. The skills like rhythm and confidence which you learn from this type of dancing can help you in other parts of your life.”

She added: “Life's too short to worry, if you have fun everything else comes afterwards.”

Richard Plummer, 55, from The Pastures, Ipswich, said: “I used to go ballroom dancing with my wife years ago, but I don't think that helped here!”

Sharon Calthorpe, 35, from Beechcroft Road, Ipswich said: “I think that was my favourite session yet.”

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See www.eveningstar.co.uk/content/eveningstar/features for video of the hip hop lesson.

DanceEast at Northgate Arts Centre runs workshops, classes and courses, youth dance groups; and also works in hospitals and with people with learning and physical disabilities and the elderly.

Ipswich classes for adults of 16 and over, include Contemporary, Pilates and Yoga, as well as Salsa Workout and Egyptian dancing classes.

For 14 years and over there are classes in Jazz and Flamenco, and for younger children, Hip Hop and various classes: Sprinkles, Swerve, Kinnect and Visions.

Children's creative classes also take place in Stowmarket, Needham Market and Bury St Edmunds.

Classes cost £5 each. £4 for concessions and £3.50 for children under 14 years of age.

Weblink: www.danceeast.co.uk/Classes&Workshops or call 01473 639230 for details.

DanceEast's new £7.9 million DanceHouse on the Ipswich waterfront, is part of the largest urban regeneration project in the region and is due for completion in 2008.

Name: Steve 'Hatman' Cunningham

Age: 54

Lives: Nacton Road

Job: Singer

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

A: To raise my fitness level and I've just joined a gym so I can carry on after Sprign Into Summer.

Q: What sports have you tried before, and what stopped you continuing them?

A: I used to be into football, cricket and everything, but it was old age really which made me stop, and travelling- I lived in different towns and didn't stay with one particular team.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: Fine, I'm hoping we can meet up again for a night out, after the ten weeks are finished. I'll provide the entertainment!

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim?

A: Fitness is more important to me, but I think I will have lost weight by the time we get weighed in a couple of weeks' time.

Q: Which Spring Into Summer activities have you liked/disliked and why, so far?

A: Orienteering was my favourite, because you can do a bit of everything with that and still do it even when you're 70. I've enjoyed all the events, so there's not been a bad one.

Name: Jo Brown

Age: 36

Lives: St Leonards Road, Ipswich

Job: Team leader at Ipswich Hospital's central bank

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

A: To lose weight and get fitter.

Q: What sports have you tried before, and what stopped you continuing them?

A: I did kickboxing for two years but it got too costly every month, so I loved doing the karate session. I also played tennis and used to do running.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: There's a really great mixture. We all get on apart from Hatman!

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim?

A: Yes

Q: Which Spring Into Summer activities have you liked/disliked and why, so far?

A: I've loved them all. There haven't been any that I've hated.

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