Fit Bits: Ballet school owner Jill Bridger on the joy of teaching dance
Heading up her own dance school for 35 years, Jill Bridger receives ‘boundless joy’ from teaching Royal Academy of Dance ballet and Melody Movement to dancers aged 18 months to 18 years
My Fitness Story
I teach children’s dance and ballet classes from 18 months to 18 years at venues in and around Cambridgeshire including Eddington, Histon, Cambourne and Cambridge CB5 and CB4 and at my own dance studios in St Ives. I’ve had my dance school for 35 years teaching the Royal Academy of Dance ballet grades plus my own Melody Movement curriculum for our younger students.
What I do
Our Melody Movement dance curriculum is based around my story book character, Melody Bear, whose life outside the dance studio and adventures are shared with the children through dance. It’s an important part of our school as the concept introduces children to dance and movement in a nurturing and creative environment encouraging a healthy lifestyle from a young age and the building blocks for lifelong dancers and appreciation of the arts. Its many benefits including physical, educational and emotional development are enjoyed by children across the UK and overseas with my concept available as a licensed package for fellow dance professionals.
Why I love my job
Teaching children’s ballet is a source of boundless joy for me. The sense of accomplishment that radiates from a child’s face when they grasp a new step or conquer a challenging routine is immensely rewarding. I am in the fortunate position of teaching children from toddler to young adult and it is a privilege to be able to play a pivotal role in their overall development. In nurturing my young dancers, I find fulfilment in sculpting not just graceful, artistic performers, but confident resilient individuals ready to conquer life’s stages. I have always loved story telling through dance and my Melody Bear early years classes are the perfect platform for me to share this. Using music and movement to convey emotion is central to my love of teaching and very much the heart of my school.
My go-to quick workout
Dancing to my favourite piece of music is my first choice for a quick workout. Although more often than not what starts out as a quick gentle warm up will end up being a complete classical dance as I just love to choreograph as the students in my Grade 8 ballet class know only too well!
My favourite feel-good long workout
The highlight of the week is the online adult ballet I teach. By the end of the class, I always feel I have had a full physical workout but find that the soothing and harmonious melodies of the music act as a rhythmic escape and rejuvenates me for the week ahead. We always find lots to laugh about, so it’s the perfect recipe for a feel-good workout.
The energy-boosting snack or meal I swear by
At lunchtimes, my husband uses a blender to make me a drink consisting of cucumber, spinach, fresh ginger and lemon. Apart from being very tasty it’s a healthy dose of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, calcium and potassium.
My indulgent treat food
The ideal treat for me is a slice of homemade cake. One of my young teachers loves to bake so we are always looking for an excuse to celebrate with cake and cookies.
How I kick back and relax
My relaxation is sipping Earl Grey tea from a bone China cup and escaping into a favourite old film on TV. I like knitting, as you start with just a basic ball of yarn which you then turn into something useful or decorative. I find that act of creation very satisfying.
My top tip for anyone who needs motivating to start exercising
Dancing is a fantastic way to exercise and boosts your mood too. My tip to a new starter is to not worry about perfection; focus on having fun, feeling the rhythm and enjoying the music. Find a dance style that suits you, whether it be ballet, hip-hop or salsa. Celebrate your progress and remember that every move brings you closer to a fitter and happier version of yourself. So put on your favourite music, let loose and dance like nobody’s watching – you might surprise yourself.
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