What do a labourer, a lorry driver and decorator all have in common? Of course, they’re learning the finer points of dance.
When dance teacher Gemma Thompson was preparing to showcase her jazz, tap and ballet classes last year, she realised she needed some men to help support her ladies with their ballet moves and turned to her former professional ice hockey player husband for help.
Jamie Thompson, who used to play for Swindon Wildcats, rallied mates from his current ice hockey team – the ENL Swindon Wildcats – and the men tiptoed in, knowing the show must go on. But the bug got to them and eight men now regularly take ballet lessons with Gemma, and most are rehearsing for their second show next month – Let’s Dance.
Gemma explained, “Jamie used the selling point ‘hot ladies and leotards,’ and we got the men. They originally came to support the women but they’ve taken to dance like ducks to water. Although some thought it would be easy they’ve now admitted ballet is physically challenging, and even more since two of the ladies became pregnant.”
Jamie, now a lorry driver, said everyone volunteered straight away. “Now they all really enjoying it and are looking forward to the show.”
Steve Hart, a 37 year old labourer from Priory Vale who will be performing a duet, said, “originally I told a mate at work and asked him to keep it secret, but it quickly got out. They started calling me Billy Elliot and asking me to show them a few moves, but I wasn’t about to do that on a building site. But it’s all good natured, friendly banter.”
Office worker Matthew Lawrence, 32, added, “we’re meeting new people and the girls are a good laugh.”
Let’s Dance takes place at the New College Phoenix Theatre from 18 to 20 November, tickets available by calling Tracy on 01793 881785.
Experienced dancers looking to take up ballet, jazz or tap can find out more about Gemma’s classes at the Haydon Centre and Greendown School by calling her on 01793 877429. There will be places for beginners once the show is over.
Pictured, putting their strength and agility to work, from left, Will Carpenter, Jamie Thompson, Matthew Lawrence, James Burnett, Steve Hart