Dance alumni and their dads take country by storm

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Limbs seemingly moving to different rhythms, awkward pointing, selfconscious stepping, uncoordinated clapping, all accompanied by ungainly wiggles and thrusts. This is the dad, dancing, reports the BBC's Ian Youngs.

Last month, this distinctive style was officially recognised when the phrase "dad dancing" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Its definition: "An awkward, unfashionable, or unrestrained style of dancing to pop music, as characteristically performed by middle-aged or older men."

But it does not have to be this way.

In a new performance titled Dad Dancing, three Trinity Laban dancers have persuaded their fathers to join them on the dance floor. The three 2008 graduates - Alex Hemsley, Helena Webb and Rosie Heafford - have trained their dads in the basics of contemporary dance, with fathers and daughters performing the new work together.

"At school, if I did anything approaching a dance, then people would laugh," says 52 year old Adrian Heafford, one of the dads. "I was never the greatest mover." A geologist by day, he admits that his only other previous dance floor experience was "…three or four lessons of LeRoc with my wife…" and "…the occasional barn dance when I was considerably younger".

Another dad, 54 year old financial writer and trumpet player Andy Webb, says his movement was previously "…of the quality normally associated with the phrase dad dancing", adding: "Also it would have been not just utterly crap, but self-consciously crap as well."

Along with 72-year old marketing executive David Hemsley, the dads watched with a mixture of pride and good humoured bafflement as their daughters performed during their training at the prestigious Trinity Laban dance school.

"And all three of the dads had quite spectacular things to say about the work they'd seen," says Helena Webb. "Bits of advice about how things could be better or how they didn't understand things.

"Slowly, we realised that they've got so many opinions and so much interest in dance that maybe we can get them involved and get them moving."

Rosie Heafford chooses her words carefully when assessing her father's dancing. "He has a unique style," she decides. "Slightly uncoordinated with a fluidity that I'm not able to replicate. But also very beautiful."

The dads and daughters created their new work together - much of it abstract, although in tribute to the wedding disco, it does culminate in a routine choreographed to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".

The next performance takes place at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds on Friday and they are hoping to take the show on a full tour next year. They are also holding workshops and hope to inspire more older men to get moving.

Full article and video -

Article reproduced with kind permission of Ian Youngs and the BBC

Picture credit - Dad Dancing is a collaboration between Rosie Heafford, Alexandrina Hemsley, Helena Webb and their dads Adrian, David and Andy. Photos by Zoe Manders.

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