Silver Swans@Home

Find out what Silver Swans Licensees are doing around the world to keep their classes going.

Sally George (UK)

I only have pictures of myself, as a new Silver Swan, when I bought my new ballet attire from the RAD website and I immediately felt the part. I also have a photograph of myself as a six-year-old in my green satin ballet dress, which I wore with a white bolero and white ballet shoes.

It would be the year 1959, and my teacher was Miss Holdich who lived with her sister who taught music, in a big house on Broadway in Peterborough. I loved it but my mother found it increasingly difficult to take me there on the bus so that was that.

When I was 30, married and living in Beverley, East Yorkshire, I found a class in Hull that taught ballet for one hour and jazz for the next hour. It was in the days of Fame on the TV. Just as we were about to learn the splits, I became pregnant with our daughter, and then our son followed, so that was that.

Upon retirement I was working as a volunteer at Beverley Minster when a dance teacher came in with leaflets advertising her Silver Swans ballet class. I was over the moon that there was a ballet class within walking distance of my house. That was over two years ago, when our teacher had just seven Silver Swans students, and she now has four classes each week plus a waiting list.

We all love it and have been doing Grade 6 work and practicing at home from YouTube. When we get it right our dance teacher Nicola always takes a pretend picture, but it would be wonderful if she took a real one! I have no photographs from our class, but we do have a good time. We have been following the Silver Swans lessons online with Sarah Platt which have been a wonderful resource to enable us to keep up lessons during the lock down.

Our teacher has been in touch and we are hoping to resume lessons in September. We have missed each other but kept in touch through a WhatsApp group, and thinking of the amusing times we have shared. I remember the one lesson when we were practicing ‘demi allongé sauté’. The Silver Swan standing next to me on the barre said she was going to order that, the next time she went out for a meal at Wagga Wagga!

Sarah Stewart (Canada)

I became a Silver Swans licensee in the Summer of 2018 and since then, I have been offering Silver Swans classes in Calgary, Canada through my company Balletiques. My classes are different from most in that I set these open, accessible and low-impact classes to beautiful classical music from TV and film. I love to use bold, inspiring pieces from Outlander, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and Poldark in addition to traditional favourites such as Swan Lake, Coppélia and The Nutcracker. Classes are for both beginners and experienced dancers. These fun, educational classes will help improve your mobility, posture, coordination, cognitive ability and energy levels.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve been offering online Silver Swans classes through Zoom. It has been a blessing to be able to open up my classes to ladies and gentlemen all around the world and I have welcomed many Swans from the UK (my country of birth), France, Spain, Mexico and USA. I teach one class per week on Thursdays at 10am Mountain Time (noon Eastern, 5pm UK) but if you can’t attend the live class, a recording of the class is available for a week and indefinitely for members.  Just send me an email sarah@balletiques.com to get access. Your first class is free so you’ve got nothing to lose, and you truly can dance like nobody’s watching!

I’ve made one class available for you to try for free on my website. Try it whenever you want and sign-up for the next live Zoom class for free. Even if you can’t do the next Zoom class, sign-up anyway and I’ll send you a link to the recording. I hope you enjoy it!

Lisa Nixon (UK)

Silver Swan Adult Ballet Cambridge at LCN Dance Academy will be running 3 Silver Swan Zoom Classes this term. Two on Tuesday Mornings, (Zooming from Quy) 9am and 10am and one on Thursday evening (Zooming from Quy) 8.15pm. We will be working on Elite Syncopations with a particular eye on core strength, balance and memory this term. There is an option to complement and widen your international dance style knowledge with Sosa Dance fitness on Wednesday evenings (Zooming from Quy) at 8.15pm.

Each term our fun, friendly and challenging classes choose a new piece of repertoire. We start from the beginning each term and build gradually over 12 weeks. This allows you to layer up your technique like deep varnish and allows you to work to your own level of complexity. The Silver Swan Adult Ballet Cambridge classes run by Lisa Nixon RT-bbodance have supporting resources and are adapted for all levels of dancer. These classes will run until further notice providing minimum numbers are met.

Lisa can be contacted via the Silver Swan Adult Ballet Cambridge Facebook page or at lcndanceacademy@gmail.com

These classes will run until further notice providing minimum numbers are met.

Fiona Fretwell (UK)

I have been teaching Silver Swans classes in Norfolk since September 2018, starting with just one class a week, it quickly grew to 6 classes a week at different locations in North Norfolk. I love teaching adults and it’s great to see so much enthusiasm from people wanting to return to ballet or try it for the first time. I have had lots of comments from participants as to how they feel stronger with improved balance and awareness of posture but also that they just love the feeling of dancing and that they feel uplifted after taking part.

Many of my Silver Swan participants have enjoyed meeting new like-minded people and friendships have been made through the classes. They have all been missing classes over the last few months, I started putting videos on my Facebook page at the start of lock down to keep everyone dancing and then set up online classes in June.

Many participants are enjoying keeping up their ballet practice with online classes and enjoy the interaction of the classes on Zoom, I also offer pre-recorded classes which are great for people to do in their own time.

https://www.facebook.com/danceclasseswithfiona/

Becks White (UK)

Some of my Swans dancing at home last week. We did it To celebrate what would have been the brilliant Tchaikovsky’s 180th Birthday. I thought it best that we dance to one of his most famous works, Swan Lake.

Hallie Blanchard (Chicago)

I’ve made a YouTube channel for my ladies. They’ve been together a long time and we have our little ways…mine are not classes for complete beginners.

Mostly I am posting barre, but have made a few combinations for centre that work in a small space. I also have one video where I do it from the front, and then repeat with my back to the camera, at the request of my students. Trying to replicate what we have in the studio!

Thank you for all the support and good work! I can’t tell you how much I’ve been loving teaching mature women, and how we all love to keep moving together. Keeps us all thinking, too!

Becks White (UK)

I successfully moved my Silver Swans class online (via ZOOM) on Thursday 19 March and have had 24 swans each week since! I was so impressed that they have all got to grips with the technology and it is not only a wonderful exercise but keeping that social interaction which my Swans love, as we have built up such great friendships. I have some clips on youtube to keep them going and I also have just emailed them a link to a full class

I teach 3 Silver Swans classes a week normally but have had to consolidate to just 1 as I have 2 children and I’m homeschooling them as my husband is a key worker. I also teach yoga and many of my swans have been coming to that online too.

I have some youtube clips too:

Shari Davis (USA)

Here is the link to my YouTube channel I have been sharing with people all over the world really. It is specifically produced for my Silver Swans.

I am continuing on with a Russian Character Section after Spring Break! This will mean a new warm-up exercise and some adaptations to my barre. It is a challenge but I am up for the challenge.

Linda Hesselden and Maryam Pourian (UK)

Since we have been on lockdown and had to close our studio, it’s been a busy time here for us in Plymouth thinking of ways to keep our Silver Swans dancing and not feeling too isolated.

Maryam and I filmed a few class exercises and group dances that could be easily performed in a small space and posted these in their private FaceBook groups and What’s App groups. We shared our class music playlists so everyone could practice at home and the feedback we’ve had has been fantastic. The ladies have loved listening to the beautiful classical music we use in class and working with the videos to go over their exercises and port de bras.

I also hosted a ‘live’ Facebook Swans class from my garden shed and although it’s small we managed barre and some centre exercises. The class felt very different as although the ladies could see me, I was unable to see them but the comments that popped up throughout the ‘live’ were all positive and it keeps us all connected in this difficult time. It certainly makes you re-think how to adapt your usual studio class to a home environment class which needs to be safe but also engaging for your swans.

We have yet to try a ‘Zoom’ class but that’s next on our ‘to do’ list! As well as posting Swan class exercises, we’ve shared the challenges we’ve been giving to our younger students. These include choreography tasks, ballet quizzes, arts & crafts and links to professional performances that are now being streamed online.

In this unprecedented time, we feel our Silver Swan classes are more important than ever. We all know how much joy dance brings, but it’s the friendships and support networks made in class that really makes Silver Swans so special. Our Swans are chatting virtually, sharing their news, videos and funny memes with us and each other via their social media groups and this, alongside weekly ballet class, is helping us all stay positive.

Lyn Fitzsimons (Australia and UK)

I opened my company here Adult Dance Circle Sunshine Coast in 2015. I randomly picked a place on the Australian map the two loves of my life Sunshine & Coast and found myself dragging my 30-kilo life behind me two weeks later.

These are some wonderful articles that have been printed regarding my company. I have been exceptionally lucky to meet some really wonderful people in my 6 years here.

I am trying my best to keep over 300 members of Adult Dance Circle Scotland and Australia busy with my online classes. Especially my Silver Swans and over 55’s who I have been teaching since 2004. It’s very exciting, our Vimeo platform has just had over 2,000 views and our YouTube channels are going crazy with our live Instagram streaming-only this morning, for a Wednesday workout warm-up promoting free endorphins after 20 minutes.

It seemed quite a hit.

Samantha Jennings (UK)

Following an excellent Silver Swans course with Justine Berry at the RAD in January, I  was motivated to start Silver Swans in Calne, Wiltshire.

Silver Swans class warm upI didn’t anticipate such a healthy response and due to demand in the outer lying villages, Silver Swans has been additionally set up in Marlborough and Devizes. The students bring bundles of enthusiasm and dedication into the class, which is very rewarding as a Swans Licensee. Adult learners are motivated and like to progress, setting their own targets with guidance. I set the same basic ballet exercises in a  block of 4-6 sessions with a single group repertoire, currently ‘Waltz of the Flowers’, Nutcracker, which the students love! I repeat the material in this way so that learners can digest and easily repeat the material. Many students have confessed that Silver Swans classes are ‘delightful’ that there is a ‘lack of dance activity’ for seniors and it’s difficult to join in exercise classes which require ‘substantial mat and floor work.’

Just as we were flying, however, the Coronavirus struck and two weeks ago, we made the difficult but right decision to cancel classes until further notice. It was disappointing for us all. In the meantime, I send out a  weekly newsletter with top tips, step explanations etc and encourage students to use FB Silver Swans.  Furthermore, I have devised a ballet bitesize series, ‘Forever Graceful’ on YouTube along with a ballet clinic for the Wiltshire Swans, a general answers and questions for Wiltshire Swans on Zoom. In parallel, many are taking part in the RAD and other extensive dance classes that are offered online.

In summary, until the crisis passes, I  am encouraging  ‘swans to stay safe and dance at home.’  It has been an anti-climax for us all but through ‘ the good and bad times,’  the future of Silver Swans looks very promising.

Lisa Cherry (UK)

I have been teaching my Silver Swans Ballet class from home now for 3 weeks at the end of this week.

Although it is not the same as seeing everyone in our hall, it has brought joy to a lot of my Swans including me. Teaching it always makes me feel so emotional and when I see them all dancing in their lounges or kitchens on my screen it makes me feel so proud of them.

I only started my Silver Swans class back in October and it has been popular from the off. They are an absolute joy, I love seeing how they have all become Swans and grown in confidence. I am very lucky they are a wonderful group of people. Some of them danced as children, some of them couldn’t for various reasons dance as children. They are all living their ballet dreams now which I think is a beautiful thing.

I believe it is never too late to dance. All genders, all ages, all abilities, Dance is for everyone. It is keeping us mentally fit and healthy as well as physically.  It is an hour of pure joy and is bringing a community together, during these difficult times for everyone, when we all need it the most. Thank you so much. Stay safe and well.

Celia Bosman (New Zealand)

Greetings from Christchurch New Zealand. We are almost at the end of Day 7 of a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.

My Bosman Ballet Flow Silver Swans started online classes last Monday (30/3). The classes are all live using the Zoom platform and I have had a really good turn out. The online set up can in no way replace our studio classes, but as with other licensees, it enables me to keep the Swans active, give them an opportunity to practise and also connect with each another (we usually have a chat before and after our Zoom classes).  I have also had interest from friends and family of the Swans who like the idea of trying something new in their own home. Receiving new Swans at this time has been unexpected.

Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, I was already producing some videos for the Swans to view in between classes to help with becoming familiar with steps. For Swans who are unable to do the live online classes, many are managing to keep up with some practice using the videos featured on the private/unlisted playlist on my YouTube channel. The content of the videos is specific to the classes/exercises we are working on.

We are all very much looking forward to getting back into the studio, but in the meantime, the online classes provide us with some of the enjoyment and fulfilment that we have grown accustomed to with our Silver Swans classes.

Jane Martin (UK)

I have made a tutorial for my Silver Swans. Rather than demonstrating I have talked through important points that we practice in class.

Melissa Fensom (UK)

I have been running Silver Swans classes in Plymouth, UK for 18 months now and we have a wonderful, warm and happy community of ladies who enjoy dancing together each week.  Some of the ladies live alone so it’s crucial to attempt to maintain some semblence of normality and ‘contact’ during this time and classes will help to bring a sense of structure in what is a very unusual time. We ran our first successful online class last week and the ladies absolutely loved seeing each other on screen and ‘meeting up’ once more so we will continue to do this every Friday at 11 am.  For those who struggle with the technical side of things and for those whose homes struggle with slow internet making it difficult to attend a live session, I am posting recordings online along with extra resources for everyone to access when they wish.

Absolutely anyone and everyone is welcome – you don’t have to be an established class member to join us online so I look forward to ‘meeting’ some more beautiful swans over the coming weeks and to sharing the joy of the Silver Swans experience.

Our adult classes are now being streamed online.

Chrissie MacArthur (UK)

Forever Graceful…

…or at least, that’s my goal! According to research, and Angela Rippon, dance is one of the best forms of exercise and Samantha Jennings has been brilliant in tailoring the dance to each individual’s ability.

I have found it helps to improve my posture, balance, co-ordination and strength, at the same time allowing me a way to express myself physically, emotionally and creatively. Music, movement and social engagement has helped to instil a sense of joy and confidence. It has been a delight to be part of this friendly and caring social group. Maybe I have found a way to become…Forever Graceful!

Silver Swans Wiltshire.

Alice Carden (Australia)

My name is Alice and I am a Silver Swans licensee based in Newcastle, Australia. I started my classes at the start of the year, and then suddenly had to close due to the current pandemic after only 6 weeks of operating. I have however been very fortunate to have a group of dedicated Swans attend my online classes, most of whom have only recently started ballet classes for the first time.

I realise that technology can seem daunting, however that did not stop my Swans. I have tried to make the process as easy as possible using Zoom, and everyone has made it to my live classes (maybe with a little bit of technical support from family members, to whom I’m hugely thankful!) Regardless if it’s on a small phone, or having me stretched across a television screen, we have maintained a routine and ensured safe and healthy practice to aid our fitness and well being during such a crucial time.

Thanks to social media, I have also had members of the dance community join from across the globe in the UK! So for some of us class is an opportunity to end the day, and for others it’s to exercise first thing in the morning. Personally, I love seeing everyone’s faces and still being able to catch up and chat, along with having some tours around their homes and meeting pets! With live classes, we can provide a little more social interaction whilst being encouraged to stay at home.

I have attached some photos, apologies they are not the best quality. I appreciate the RAD’s recognition of teachers, and hope that everyone can pull through this crisis.

All the best and stay safe.

Stephanie Constantine-Smith (UK)

I have classes in Milford on Sea, Lymington & Christchurch normally. I ran my first online Silver Swans classes on Friday 17 April. It was so lovely to see my Swans again! Whilst online classes are not ideal, I feel it’s better than nothing – and at least it means we’re moving! I look forward to us getting back to our normal classes – whenever that will be – but for now, I am thrilled I can join my Swans for quick dance online.