Contribution by Liz Sims
I love to dance even if it’s not as proficiently as I’d like. I’ve been dabbling in different dance classes on and off since I was four years old when my mother started my sister and I at ballet classes. Now I enjoy ballroom, line dancing, salsa and dancing ceroc with Mike, my husband, at The Mercury Bay Club. Even though I am no master of any particular genre, I will give most types a go. For a little town, Whitianga has so many of the dance opportunities covered, from dancing for children to adults and from partner to non-partner dancing. There’s ballet and jazz, ballroom, line dancing, boogying at the local Mercury Bay Club, at Smittys and Whitianga Hotel -rock & roll, salsa, belly dancing and there’s sure to be other types that I don’t know about. I will try to cover these in the future.
Do we have an innate ability to dance? Even babies move to music. At just five months old they can keep in time. Studies also show that in very ancient times, people danced as a way to communicate and sometimes to attract a mate. Dancing is universal in many cultures and countries. Of course many people choose not to dance, but for my husband and me, and for many others, it’s a special joy. We can use music, movement and dance to experience and express that joy; that ‘joy de vivre’. Some people love to perfect a dance genre; to practise and improve while others just let it ‘all hang loose’. Not only can dance be a social glue, it keeps us fit and happy. As we age it’s also a great way to feed our cognitive stores and with any luck prevent that decline.
When we arrived in Whitianga, we were lucky enough to discover Kathleen Conaghan. She was teaching ballroom dancing at the Town Hall. We ‘fell’ into the cohesion of this lovely group of people led by the patient and skilled tutelage of Kathleen. She is a beautiful, dedicated dancer herself and the best advertisement for the benefits of dance and keeping active. As well as teaching ballroom, she facilitated socials and a magical ball. She recently set up an eight-week dance course held at The Mercury Bay Club to learn a particular form of dance. The first were the Rock and Roll classes organised by Kathleen and taught by NZ top rock and rollers, Chris and Greg Sammons. They were a huge success and gave participants the confidence and skill to keep doing this form of dance. Next are the beginner ballroom dance lessons, which started on Thursday, 3 November and include Square Rhumba, Fox Trot, Waltz and Cha Cha. These classes are taught by Kathleen herself.
To sum up, there are dance classes to suit everyone here in wonderful Whitianga. No experience needed to experience this magic and joy of moving to music.
Caption : Liz Sims as a child.