Thinking about trying a class but not sure what to expect?
Here are some comments from my class participants who are all feeling the amazing benefits of dance!
I started silver swans over three years ago with Fiona and it has exceeded my expectations.
I had heard about the classes from a friend and my main worries was that I lacked the skills to engage in this. But I went to my first set of classes and loved it so much that I ‘recruited’ a couple of friends.
I did ballet as a child and I love dancing. The discipline and physical control of ballet have given me huge benefits, my balance is now excellent, my posture is far better and my confidence in my body has really improved.
Fiona is gentle and thorough, I feel very comfortable with her teaching style, and her dedication to her role in getting her class to achieve.
I now do Zoom classes and really enjoy this too. I miss the buzz of people around me, but the Zoom experience is really good.
I would miss the classes more than I can say if I could not attend.
When the class ends, I feel exercised from the top of my head to my toes, but in the most gentle and stretchy way.
Now, I think about all my moves, I sit better, I stand and walk better.
Before joining these classes my last ballet lesson was when I was 7. I never dreamt that 60 years later I’d be dancing a Sugar Plum Fairy routine - but with Fiona’s great tuition I did and it felt wonderful. Her classes are great exercise to great music - great fun!
Elaine Allsop , Norwich , UK
I get an enormous amount of pleasure from the classes. Since my liver transplant in October 2017, I’ve been gradually regaining my health which for many years before had been very poor. I was never someone who was fond of the gym etc as many others are, nor had I ever had the opportunity to do ballet as a child. So your classes make me feel better, give me the chance to learn something new, to stretch and to exercise my joints. I’m so aware that I’ll never be a performer, but I’ve derived great pleasure from learning new steps and the different French terms for moves.
Thank you so much, Fiona, for putting on your classes each week, for your kindness and your expertise, and for your happy nature. I am extremely grateful.
Having danced in the past and stopped some years ago, I wondered if I would be capable of doing this Silver Swans class. I needn’t have worried as it has been a joy to join both in person and recently online.
My balance and strength have improved considerably during the two years since starting- something very important as we get older.
Fiona is so good at getting across the technicalities of the steps which are do-able for all, plus we get to do beautiful dance sequences to iconic music. We are full of emotion by the end of each session!
If you have any doubts about joining - don’t delay - you will love it.
I had never tried ballet before but always loved watching it and was delighted to be given the opportunity to attend ballet classes with Fiona in person. As a complete novice I loved picking up new steps and movements accompanied by wonderful music. When Fiona started putting pre-recorded sessions on-line I continued that way and it is brilliant to be able to follow her steps and rewind if I need to see something repeated. There is no doubt that these sessions improve balance, posture and flexibility as well as providing a real sense of well being.
Jenny Johnson, North Norfolk
I was so delighted to be able to join Fiona's online classes. I feel rejuvenated after every session and Fiona's gentle encouragement and obviously genuine delight when we do well is just what I need. Even if we were not in lockdown, online classes are the best solution for me, as there are no suitable in person classes in my area at the moment.
Anne Abbott, near Southwold
I attend Fiona’s Silver Swan class in Norwich. I absolutely love it! From the very first class I knew I had met some wonderful new friends. All like minded people, enjoying the dancing, the music and the company. Some with dance experience, some not, but it doesn’t matter. Fiona is a fabulous teacher. She is very thorough and patient and makes each class so lovely. I look forward to it every week and feel great afterwards. I would recommend Silver Swans to anyone and especially Fiona’s classes.
Fiona's Silver Swan zoom classes are physically and mentally uplifting. Knowing you are joining in with other people doing a class at the same time is very reassuring particularly during the lockdown and gives a structure to the week. Getting the steps and exercises right is important and even though we are not in the same room Fiona's makes us feel connected and encourages us to improve. The music is lovely and there is always time for a little chat afterwards. After the class there is a sense of achievement and the day is always better.
I joined Fiona’s classes in our local Community Hall in Norfolk just over two years ago. Any nerves I had soon disappeared. Fiona was so encouraging and supportive. My balance and posture steadily improved. I noticed that after a session my sense of well-being was boosted. I miss the classes but being able to participate on-line has been a real bonus.
I feel stronger and more movement in my hips particularly after lots of hours sitting at a desk with our new lifestyle. Mentally I feel that I have taken time out for myself and for my mental health. Fiona's teaching style is friendly, accessible, real and engaging.
I enjoy the pre-recorded classes as I can fit them around my working day, I also like the barre exercises A LOT, so often do them twice.
Myszka Matthews, Derbyshire
I suppose one needs to be a little crazy to start ballet as a beginner after one has retired. I had picked up ballet at mixed ability adult classes rather than through structured teaching, so the opportunity to attend Fiona’s Silver Swans classes has been very helpful. She is so thorough in teaching the basics carefully. Her classes are most enjoyable and very sociable. As you enter the room you feel that everyone has come to enjoy the class and to take from it a sense of achievement at their own level.
You may feel that you are a bit creaky, or ballet may damage aging joints. Just the opposite. I have found ballet aids mobility and, by strengthening muscles, supports arthriticy joints. Fiona’s careful explanations of technique and posture ensure her class members move correctly and safely.
I was so pleased when Fiona started on-line classes in the late spring. Not only have they enabled us to continue to dance, they have, somehow, kept a sense of us being together as a group. Being partially sighted I wondered how I would cope with classes on-line, as I cannot see the screen clearly. I need not have been concerned. Fiona’s careful explanations and descriptions make the classes easy to follow. Through the months she has steadily introduced new challenges in well planned small steps, so I feel I have continued to make progress. She has also planned her classes so we can dance in whatever small space we have. I have had the pre-recorded classes for ballet, as I thought I would be able to stop and start if I needed to get close to the screen to see more clearly; but, I rarely have to do this.
Jazz classes have been on Zoom and I have been able to keep up with them. Fiona sends out a recording after the class, so we can practice during the week. If there are small details I am unsure about, Fiona is always happy to clarify by e-mail sending a bit of video if needed. Jazz dance is so much fun that it should be part of every well-being package.
Another nice touch of Fiona’s is that, from time to time, she sends short video clips of the Royal Ballet and other dance. These have brought many moments of joy during these times of limited movement and isolation.
Nola age 76, Mid Norfolk
I joined Fiona’s Silver Swans ballet classes a couple of years ago having not done any ballet since the age of 14 (eg 50 years!)
I had no idea what to expect but found Fiona to be a very organised and well-prepared teacher who has clearly thought very hard about the special aspects of a 50 plus age group attempting a discipline which involves quite a degree of stamina and concentration.
For me it was a complete treat to be able to dance again (so little opportunity for this as one get older), and to find that I could remember a lot of what I had learnt as a child, and to engage again with music in a way that I love. I am so grateful that this opportunity exists, thanks to Fiona.
Her open and uncritical but always enthusiastic manner is a joy, and she is able to challenge us while keeping us safe.
I have received many benefits from the course apart from the joy of the dance itself, it has most definitely improved physical wellbeing, concentration, balance and stamina - I would thoroughly recommend Fiona’s classes.
Having not done any ballet since childhood, I was a little anxious at taking it up again after almost 60 years. I need not have worried as not only does Fiona make classes so enjoyable, but she teaches us in a really clear and careful way. After just over a year, I am finding so much improvement in my balance, posture and strength in my core muscles. There is also an obvious improvement in my stiff back and shoulders.
The sheer joy of dancing to such lovely music also benefits my mental health. Our local ballet group is very supportive and all of us, even people who have not done ballet before, are making tremendous progress with Fiona’s constant encouragement and support.
Since lockdown, Fiona’s classes are all on Zoom. Having now got used to using Zoom, I find Fiona manages to make all the classes really enjoyable. Being ‘live’ and seeing other people dancing with you is a great bonus. Fiona has managed to transfer her teaching to online brilliantly and we still get an excellent break down of the various steps so we can all follow easily. We even get to perform dance sequences all co-ordinated on Zoom which is quite an achievement and is really satisfying. If we want to do extra practise or study particular sequences in more detail, Fiona provides a number of pre-recorded videos which are really helpful.
Fiona’s Ballet and the Jazz Dance classes have been a real life saver during lockdown. Her enthusiasm, encouragement and humour have helped so many of us to feel so much better in ourselves as well as keeping us fit. The informal chats Fiona hosts on Zoom are also a great way of getting to know people in other classes.
I attend Fiona's dance classes and enjoy them so much. As well as the benefits of exercising and improving my balance we are a great group and I am missing the post dance coffee and catch up.
Fiona has made such a good job of overcoming the difficulties of COVID. Both the Zoom and Pre-Recorded lessons are excellent, Fiona is so clear and takes in the needs of all of us and our capabilities. Keep up the good work!
I have always loved ballet and attended classes as a child. I was rather apprehensive about starting Silver Swans but I’m really glad that I did.
The classes are well structured, varied and build on the sequences learnt in the previous week. Fiona encourages everyone to work at their own level and makes the classes really enjoyable. She explains the exercises clearly and ensures everyone feels a sense of achievement.
I’m now enjoying the online pre-recorded classes. I like the flexibility they give plus the option to dip into the class at any time during the following week.
Vicki McHarrie, Briston
Amazing - that's what Friday mornings are for! I've never met anyone with so much patience, enthusiasm and praise. It's never too much trouble to go over and over the same things until everyone feels happy they know what they are doing, finding alternative ways of doing things to suit all abilities and making us all feel good about ourselves by the end of the class. Longing for the next session
Two years ago, I went to a performance of Swan Lake at Norwich Theatre Royal. When they sent me an email inviting me to Silver Swans ballet lessons, I really wanted to do it but I was a bit intimidated (I’d done some ballroom but am horribly clumsy - and I’d never done ballet before). I contacted Fiona, who really put me at my ease, and decided to go for it.
That first class was an utter revelation. I enjoyed the movement and loved the music, but I hadn’t expected to feel so relaxed and full of joy afterwards. Classes have also improved my flexibility and posture. Friday mornings are the highlight of my week!
Fiona is friendly, encouraging, and very clear with her instructions — I like the fact that she explains the why as well as the how. It doesn’t matter if you have no experience, because she breaks a sequence down into logical parts and makes sure everyone’s comfortable with it before moving on.
I’m doing the Zoom class because it’s the nearest I can get to the feel of our ‘proper’ classes and workshops during lockdown. And Friday mornings are still a joy.
Pamela Brooks, Norwich
This is the first time I have ever danced online. However after the dance classes with Fiona I’m wondering why it took me so long to try it! Fiona is an amazing teacher. The class is very interesting and I can easily follow and understand the moves and the exercises she is demonstrating. Time passes by very very quickly, the class is very uplifting, and by the end of it I feel like a real dancer 🙂 Best value for money, do not hesitate to try it!
Eleni Papagiannaki, Athens, Greece
I started Ballet classes with Fiona two years ago, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done! I went to Ballet lessons as a child but as a rather plump and un-coordinated little girl it was clear I was never going to fulfil my wish to be a ballerina.
So in my 60’s, with some trepidation but loads of enthusiasm I enrolled in Silver Swans, and with Fiona’s patient and detailed teaching have finally fulfilled my dream! I’m still not very coordinated but Fiona makes us all feel like ballerinas with her constant encouragement and carefully choreographed sequences, with modifications that take into account personal flexibility and strength. Such a boost to both mental and physical health, the beautiful music, the focus on movement, and the sense of achievement after the lesson all make ballet such a positive experience, shared with friendly and like-minded people.