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Interview with dance instructor Paul Burbedge

April 14, 2016

Professional ballroom dancer and teacher, Paul Burbedge, will be bringing a dance class extravaganza to the Grafton Dance School on Sunday 8th May.

All are welcome as Paul’s expert tuition will give confidence to the beginner and returning dancer alike with tuition in the Cha Cha Cha and the Social Foxtrot. The dance class will be immediately followed by a performance from Nedwardo and the Rumbanauts so dancers can put their new dancing skills immediately to the test!

Paul has been dancing since the age of 9. He has danced competitively in the USA, Japan and New Zealand, as well as various countries across Europe and has represented Scotland and New Zealand in World Championship competitions. His competitive dancing career has spanned 20 years, giving him the knowledge and deep understanding that makes him the talented and intuitive dance teacher that he is today. We talked to Paul about what makes a good dancer and the effect that celebrity dancing TV shows have had on the dancing world.

How long have you been teaching people to dance?

I think it must be about 15 years.

How soon can you spot if someone is a naturally gifted dancer?

Within 5– 10 minutes of dancing with someone you can feel if they have a flair for moving their body weight over their feet.

Can anyone be taught to dance or do some people just have ‘two left feet’?

Anyone can be taught to dance but sometimes we need to manage their expectations.

How do you help people counter self-consciousness when they are starting out?

At the Grafton our Beginner’s class is held in the smaller studio an hour earlier than the main classes. We can close the doors and work through the basic figures without the pressure of being in the presence of more advanced dancers. The main ingredient is laughter; enjoy it and you will learn it.

Have you seen an increased interest in people wanting to take dance instruction since programmes like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ came on air?

The popularity of programmes like Strictly Come Dancing have certainly, with the male sports celebrities doing so well, made the ballroom dancing more acceptable amongst groups that in the past might not have been so ready to consider it. I wouldn’t say there is still the rush of people coming to the classes that there was when the TV programme first started, but there is a steady flow of people still making enquiries.

What are the benefits of dancing, physical and psychological?

Physical, mental and general well-being is enhanced beyond any measure of doubt. Physical activity obviously increases heart rates and keeps the blood pumping round the body. It is medically proven that ballroom dancing stays off the onset of dementia by keeping the brain functioning and of course dancing is a social activity that keeps us involved and feeling valued.

Are there broader benefits to dancing which can help you in your general life, in work or socially?

I think, getting up onto a dance floor can take great courage which can only enhance our own self-esteem and how others perceive us to be, be it in a work environment or any general social arena.

Who is the best dancer you have ever seen?

Too difficult a question, there are, and have been, many, each bringing their own skill and flavour to their chosen discipline. We have our own particular favourites but are they the best, that’s a difficult one to answer.

What advice would you give to young people seeking to begin a career in dancing?

Start as early as possible and keep focused on your intention.

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