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Wanstead dance school celebrates 30th anniversary with ‘Super Zoom’ event

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:17 29 June 2020

Chantraine Dance of Expression celebrated its 30th anniversary with a 'Super Zoom' event. Picture: Mervin Archer

Chantraine Dance of Expression celebrated its 30th anniversary with a 'Super Zoom' event. Picture: Mervin Archer

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A Wanstead dance school celebrated its 30th anniversary with a “Super Zoom” event and the founder talked about the pros and cons of teaching under lockdown.

Founder Kate Green with pupils pre-lockdown. Picture: Mervin ArcherFounder Kate Green with pupils pre-lockdown. Picture: Mervin Archer

Chantraine Dance of Expression was originally scheduled to have a big event at the Stratford Circus Arts Centre to mark the 30 years founder Kate Green has been leading the school in Wanstead.

Dancers swapped Stratford for their screens and on Saturday (June 20) more than 80 Chantraine dancers from all over the UK, France and the US, aged from four to 80 plus, came together to mark the occasion.

The original founder, Françoise Chantraine, was able to participate as well.

Like other dance studios Kate moved her classes online during lockdown and she wants to continue doing at least one Zoom class post-coronavirus. Picture: Mervin ArcherLike other dance studios Kate moved her classes online during lockdown and she wants to continue doing at least one Zoom class post-coronavirus. Picture: Mervin Archer

Françoise first started Chantraine 60 years ago in France with her late husband Alain and Kate leads all its schools in the UK.

Like other dance studios, since the start of lockdown Kate slowly started conducting classes online and gradually built up to 11 a week, for both children and adults.

Kate said it can be a surreal experience to teach dance online as the video delay can put the dancers out of sync.

For the anniversary event Kate created a new piece which highlights the uncertainty of the moment during Covid-19. Picture: Mervin ArcherFor the anniversary event Kate created a new piece which highlights the uncertainty of the moment during Covid-19. Picture: Mervin Archer

Some of her students do the sessions from small bedrooms so she may only see their head or feet.

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She said: “One surprising benefit to doing the classes online is some people are more daring.

“They don’t feel like they’re being watched so it allows them to be more creative.”

Some of her dancers have moved away to places such as Scotland and Cornwall years ago but can now join the classes again online.

Kate said: “I think some people feel trapped living in small flats in the city and it’s been great for the dancers to connect and explore their imagination.”

Once she is able to open her dance studio up completely Kate hopes to still conduct at least one adult zoom class once a week to be able to connect with dancers from far away.

Many of Kate’s pupils have been dancing with the school for over 20 years, some now with their children dancing as well.

For the anniversary she created two new pieces, one energetic piece and another to capture the sense of uncertainty of the moment.

Kate said when she started the school in 1990 she didn’t expect to do it for 30 years, and certainly not online.

“But Chantraine dance is for everyone, everywhere, even via a screen”.


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