By Johanna Hadley, Silver Swans®, Janet Lomas School of Dancing, Bury

Silver Sunday is a unique opportunity for older people across the country to participate in activities that they have never tried before. On Sunday 6th October 2019, we celebrated Silver Sunday with a Silver Swans® ballet class for the over 55s in Bury, Lancashire. This is the third year that we have been involved in the Silver Sunday celebrations, and each year the event has been fully booked.

Being a part of Silver Sunday each year is of great importance to us. In an ageing society, the risk of loneliness in older people becomes greater – and it is this that Silver Sunday seeks to address.

Even if not primarily to meet other people, attending groups, societies and clubs – perhaps for exercise or to pursue a hobby – has enormous social benefits. This is something that I see in my regular weekly Silver Swans® ballet classes and the reason I value being able to offer a free class on Silver Sunday each year.

Silver Swans® ballet classes, an initiative of the Royal Academy of Dance, are gentle ballet classes specially designed for older learners. Classes can help to improve mobility, posture, co-ordination and energy levels.

The Silver Swans® classes have an overwhelmingly positive effect on anyone who takes part in them. The pure joy of dance is unmistakable. One of the most profound, and perhaps unexpected, benefits occurs socially. There is the opportunity to enjoy the company of other people and a tremendous sense of camaraderie.

Silver Swans® classes are well-suited to Silver Sunday because of how accessible they are. Classes are open to men and women with no upper age limit, regardless of health or mobility problems. Silver Swans® attracts a wide variety of people, from those entering a dance class for the first time to accomplished ex-professional dancers.

In advance of our Silver Sunday event this year, our Silver Swans® were featured on local TV channel That’s Manchester TV. It was an enjoyable morning, where we filmed a regular Silver Swans® ballet class and interviews. Four days later, it was the big day!

With bunting hanging from the walls, Silver Sunday balloons around the room and our illuminated swan ornament presiding over our refreshments, the participants began to arrive. Travelling from as far afield as Leeds to participate in our hour-long ballet class, they were greeted by seven Silver Swans® who attend our weekly classes.

From the start, the session introduced the dancers to the basics of ballet. They learnt positions of the feet and arms, and sampled ballet exercises at the barre and centre. The class culminated in learning an extract from Romeo and Juliet – the famous ‘Dance of the Knights’.

At our Silver Sunday event, The Worshipful the Mayor and Mayoress of the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, Councillor Trevor Holt and Mrs Evelyn Holt were in attendance. We were honoured that The Mayor joined in part of the session, learning the short extract from Romeo and Juliet.

Following the class, everyone chatted and enjoyed well-deserved tea, cakes and biscuits!

It was wonderful to see everyone leave the class with huge smiles on their faces – and hopefully having made some new friends, too.

Enjoy the video below!