When my daughter was a little girl she was always dancing. Regardless what kind of music was playing she would respond instinctively with some form of movement - a few skips, a wiggle or a twirl. Even when there was no music at all it was natural for her to move in a graceful, rhythmic way. Life was a joyful adventure and she expressed herself spontaneously through her uniquely choreographed little dances.
Children have a natural instinct to dance. Unburdened by the duties and worries of adult life, the world is new and fascinating, and life is a magical journey of self-discovery. For them, dance is simply a physical expression of their inner state of being. Similarly, in many traditional societies dance is an important element of cultural identity. From the islands of the Pacific to the African deserts and villages of Europe, music and dance accompany rituals celebrating the passing of the seasons, the annual harvest and the different milestones of life.
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Kerri-Jo Stewart)
Unfortunately, however, many adults in Western culture have forgotten the simple joy of dance. While we eagerly enrol our children in ballet or Irish dance classes, we rarely experience the exuberance of participating ourselves and letting it all hang out. Weighed down by responsibilities and entangled by the expectations of others, we often lose touch with the beauty and magic of the world, ourselves and each other. The materialism, incessant busyness and resultant stress of our lives means there is very little time to simply let go and dance with the rhythms of nature, and therefore our lives are devoid of a primal form of physical self-expression.
Life is too short to waste, however, so why not learn to reconnect with the energy and exuberance of youth? The following are some fabulous and rather flamboyant styles of dance that will be sure to energise and inspire you. Alongside each of these, I've also included one or two places in Perth where you can take classes.
Belly-dancing would have to be one of the world's most exotic and feminine styles of dance. In addition, it's a great way to have some fun with your girlfriends and lose weight. Originating in the Middle East, it's now embraced enthusiastically throughout Western countries, and the great news is that there are heaps of places to try it out here in Perth. Bellydance WA
holds classes all around the Perth metropolitan area, so go to their website if you want to find out more. Plenty of other places also provide bellydancing tuition and you can learn about them by doing an online search.
This image is from the Bellydance WA website
Another exuberant and fun style of dance that's become incredibly popular over recent years is Bollywood dance. Inspired by the energetic and colourful dance styles that are so characteristic of Indian cinema, they're joyful, quirky and loads of fun. Like belly dancing, Bollywood dancing involves grooving to immensely danceable music and wearing sparkly colourful dance costumes. If only our childhood ballet classes had been so much fun! If you want to give Bollywood Dancing a spin, the place to go in Perth is the Bollywood Dance Studio
in Cloverdale. As well as holding dance classes for grown-ups (from beginners to pros) and children (even very little ones), they also have a very cool Bolly Boutique (where you can purchase your very own groovy Bollywood outfits), regular interesting workshops and provide Bollywood themed entertainment for all sorts of functions, including birthdays, hen's nights and team-building workshops.
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Skip).
If you're a romantic at heart, perhaps ballroom dancing will be more your thing. A partnered variety of dance, it's broadly defined as any kind of social, recreational dance and includes such diverse styles as Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Samba and Jive. There are many places in
Perth where you can learn all about Ballroom Dancing and these include Humphrey's Dance Studio
, Daele Fraser Dance Studio and Fitness
, and Cutler's Dance Club
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Caragius)
As American as the stars and the stripes, Cheerleading is another fun and energetic way to bond with your friends and lose a few kilos. A fast-paced and dynamic style of dance, it involves various forms of movement including stunts and tumbles. While this may not appeal to everyone, if you're looking for something a bit different and are an active kind of person, why not give it a try? Fit 2 Cheer
and Perth Cheer and Dance Crew
are two places where you can learn to unleash the cheerleader within.
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Tina M. Ackerman)
Did you ever see Riverdance? If you did, I can guarantee that the lively music and breathtaking dance routines tempted you to consider taking classes at your local Irish dance studio. Here in Perth there are several very good Irish dance schools that hold regular classes for both adults and children. While you may never perform the dazzling feats of the Riverdance performers, with practice and perseverance you should be able to master several routines, and have a lot of fun in the process. The Kavanagh Studio of Irish Dance
and the O'Brien Academy of Irish Dancing
are two places where you can begin.
Despite its somewhat risque origins, pole dancing is now quite mainstream and is taught in many gyms, community classes and fitness studios throughout Perth. Whereas once upon a time it was strictly the realm of strippers and other kinds of exotic dancers, these days it's considered a great way to stay fit, albeit in a rather dramatic way. There is even much serious debate about whether it will be accepted as an Olympic sport. Two popular venues for learning pole dancing are Bobbi's Pole Studio
in Perth city and She Moves Dance Fitness Studio
up in Joondalup.
Originating in Harlem, New York, the Lindy Hop is a style of dance that evolved during the American jazz era of the 1920s and 1930s. A member of the swing style of dance, it also incorporates elements of jazz, tap, breakaway and the Charleston, and can be performed either solo or partnered. To get some idea of its moves, think back to the energetic dance routines in those old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. If you'd like to learn the Lindy Hop, as well as other vintage jazz dances such as swing and the Charleston, why not enrol in a few classes? Perth Swing Dance Academy
, Something Savoy
and Swing It
all hold a range of exciting classes that will tone your body and exhilarate your spirit.
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Eric Esquivel)
Combining Latin and international music, zumba is a fast, furious and fun way to dance your way to fitness. Since its 'invention' in the 1990s Zumba has taken the world by storm, and there are now hundreds of classes held every week in most parts of Perth. Check noticeboards around your neighbourhood or in local newspapers to find your closest class. Otherwise, most fitness centres, gyms and specialist dance studios also hold regular classes. From time to time free group classes are also held around the city, so be sure to check the internet and other media. From October 2012 until April this year there were free twice-weekly groups held at Northbridge Piazza: hopefully these will be offered again.
Much tamer than some of the above-mentioned styles, folk dancing encompasses a broad spectrum of traditional dance styles from around the world. Since days of yore, traditional cultures everywhere have celebrated their lives and the passing of the seasons through song and dance. Folk dance is social and child-friendly, so attending a folk-dancing event or class is a terrific and affordable outing for the whole family. Perth International Dance
is a group that embraces and promotes a wide range of international dance styles, and at each dance class two or three new styles of dance are learnt. To find out about other groups and events relating to folk dance, music, song and poetry, have a look at the very comprehensive WA Acoustic Music and Dance Calendar
English Country Dancing
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Zencohe)
Strictly speaking, English Country Dancing is also folk dance, albeit with an emphasis on England. Here in Perth the talented and enthusiastic Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers
celebrate this rich tradition, focusing mainly on dances from the 16th century up to the present day. If you've always wanted to learn the beautiful dances that we see in the film and television versions of Jane Austin's novels, then you'll definitely want to join this group. The Rose and Wattle English Country Dancers meet every Monday from 7.30 – 9.30pm at the Osborne Park RSL Hall, at the corner of Main and Cape Streets. To find out more take a look at their website. Another traditional English style is Morris Dancing, which involves choreographed rhythmic steps by a group of dancers, often wearing bell pads on their shins and wielding props such as sticks or handkerchiefs. If you think you'd like to give Morris Dancing a try, have a look at the Perth Morris Men website
Line Dancing / Bootscooting
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Arpingstone)
Generally connected with country music, line dancing is performed when individual dancers follow a sequence of moves while arranged in one or more rows. The Aussie Dancesheets
website provides information and contact details about the many Line Dancing and Bootscooting classes and events that are held regularly around Perth.
Hip Hop dance is an improvised style of street dance that has its roots in the Black American and Latin American culture of the late 1960s, although it's been constantly evolving since then. It encompasses a wide range of styles, also broadly known as funk, including uprock, breaking, locking, roboting and boogaloo. Although it's not traditionally a studio-based style of dance, classes can be taken at various places around Perth. The Cipher Dance Academy
at Welshpool is the only studio in Perth that specialises in street-dance, and their classes focus on Breakdance (bboying), Hip Hop and Popping. However, if this is a long way from where you live, many other dance schools such as Dance Fusion
in Morley and the WA Performance School
in Subiaco also offer classes as well.
This image is from the Cipher Dance Academy website.
Who doesn't love the exciting and flamboyant music of Latin America and the exotic dances that have evolved in response to it? Dance sequences such as the samba, salsa, mambo, rumba and tango need no introduction, and the great news is there's a plethora of places around Perth where you can learn them. Two popular schools that teach Latin dance are Danza Pasion
(which holds classes at Balcatta and North Perth) and the Salsa Viva Dance Studio
This image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Carlos Luque).