An interview with Maria and dancing

What do you do to keep fit?

I don’t think really think about fitness as such – I dance as I love dancing and keeping fit is more of a side benefit. Having said that I do Pilates as I know its good for me. It helps to keep me strong but dancing is my prime motivation.

How long have you been dancing for?

I started when I was 7 at the Constance Grant dance school in Sheffield. I later moved away from the area and didn’t return to dancing until my teens. Once I did though I took the IDTA Grade 1-5 exams in tap, ballet, stage and modern jazz; and then did the associate (teaching) level – this was and still is my favourite form of dance.

Life moved on and I didn’t dance for many years until I was in my 50’s. Anxiety resulting from stress at work and some depression arising from menopause compelled me to start dancing again. I took up belly dancing which I loved. 

Later on our belly dance teacher started a Tahitian class after the belly dance class. It was brilliant. We shipped over the authentic costumes from Hawaii and did some performances as a troupe.

What components of dance make it such a passion and how does it make you feel?

The music has to be right; I love good choreography and the challenge of learning new steps. This is also why I don’t love dance fitness as its too repetitive and there is no challenge. It’s like a form of meditation – you feel only that moment and forget about all your troubles. I also get a real buzz out of it. (This is how I feel when I run: Note from the author).

What is your relationship with nutrition?

I do love chocolate and cake! However, I’m also aware of what is healthy and what isn’t. I cook everything from scratch every evening and only use good quality ingredients like rape seed oil for cooking. i also make sure i get a good balance of vitamins in my food. At the moment i take an additional Vitamin D supplement as its hard to get enough sun in this country. I wouldn’t eat ready made meals, I like fresh foods and I just think they taste better.

How many classes do you do a week?

When everything is on it would be about 10. 3 Jazz, 3 Pilates, a tap, a Zumba, dance floor fillers and Salsa. Each class is anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour 15.

How has lockdown affected you with regards to dancing?

I’ve been able to continue with some classes, but you cant substitute dancing in front of a teacher in a class. I do classes via zoom; some where they are live on screen but they can’t see you; and some using Youtube – but its harder to follow than in a real class situation and its better to dance with others in a studio.

How important is camaraderie?

It’s very important. I’ve met so many friends via the dance classes and we also meet up after the classes and talk about the dances and other things. It’s nice to have people who share the same passion as you do. It’s very bonding.

Have you had any injuries that have affected your dancing?

I fractured my proximal humerus and it took me 3 months to get back fully to normal. Dance friends used to pick me up and take me to classes and I would sit on a chair tapping my feet (during tap class). I then built up to dancing with one arm (which looked ridiculous) and eventually two arms.

I’ve also had a hip replacement. I started to notice pain in my left thigh during the time I was doing Tahitian dancing. Over several years it got worse and worse and was more evidently in the hip. I had physio and xrays along the way but hip replacement wasn’t mentioned during this time. I carried on dancing but just had to adapt and manage the pain. Dance was still easier than walking mind you! Eventually it was decided I needed a hip replacement and thankfully I had this done last November. I was able to get back to dancing (carefully) after a few months. It’s amazing, its the best thing I ever did.

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