Sian Edward Davies, 64, started doing belly dancing as a fitness hobby in her early 30s but began teaching it at a turning point in her life. Quite by chance she was asked if she could take on a teaching role in a two-week council project in Salford, involving 25 young adults with a range of physical challenges, from using crutches to cerebral palsy.
The project leader told Sian “don’t make exceptions, just teach”. Never having taught dance before, Sian started with some trepidation, but ended up having “the best fun I’ve ever had in my life”. And has never looked back. 25 years on she now runs seven classes throughout the Greater Manchester area, and over the border in Warrington.
Sian sees belly dancing as having a variety of health benefits. She said: “It keeps muscles supple and strong, supports your spine and helps you to open up your upper body as well. It has also been shown to aid recovery following hip replacement surgery.
“But it isn’t just the physical benefits that keep me motivated. I have seen, first-hand, the positive effect of attending classes and learning this ancient craft has on pupils – physically and mentally.
“I think it helps to take peoples’ minds off the daily problems in their lives, it’s like adult dress-up. As we grow older, we lose the ability to play, and I see my job as giving people permission to play.”
And for anyone a bit dubious about dress code, don’t worry you can keep it all covered up! However, swishy skirts, floaty scarves, and tinkling jewellery are recommended!
All the class members at the Jubilee Centre in Clarence Park, Bury are over 60, the oldest being 81. Classes are all female and are drop-in sessions, pay as you go. For more information visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/ bury/our-services/jub-centre/