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The low-down on Retina’s dance classes

We're delighted to post this review from Rachel Elderkin, a Nottingham-based dance enthusiast, who has been attending Retina's regular dance classes. 

"Throughout term time Retina Dance Company hold a number of classes for ages 8 upwards, catering for beginners to professionals. During the school holidays there are often workshops taking place and in the summer break Retina holds a week long summer school, so there is always something to take part in if you want to keep up your fitness or further explore your abilities as a dancer.

Having attended a number of open classes, both in London and Leeds, I would say that, for me, the Retina class is one of the most enjoyable I have been to. This is partly down to the relaxed nature of the class and friendly atmosphere. Our regular teacher Matthew Slater, one of the Retina company dancers, puts you at ease and even if it was your first class you would feel confident tackling the exercises. You don’t feel any pressure to do everything perfectly, which makes you more willing to have a go and hopefully surprise yourself! The best classes are those where you can fall over and not feel embarrassed – in this class you’d probably be encouraged to!

The classes are run on an open basis meaning anyone can turn up to the class most suitable for them, at any time during the term, and you can attend as often - or as little - as you like. This open style is great if you have other commitments and can’t commit to attending a class every week. Plus, as the material changes each week, you will never get left behind for missing a class. On the Monday night classes the people attending vary each week – of course there are those who come regularly but there is often someone new!

The class consists of various exercises and sometimes short routines, all with a touch of the distinctive Retina style. On a Monday night we will start with a short warm up – usually on the floor, which will then progress into further floor exercises. From this we will move on to more complex sequences that travel a bit more, usually switching between standing and floor work. We will probably finish with some travelling sequences from the corner or sometimes an extract of company rep if the dancers have been learning something new! The pace and complexity of the sequences vary, but Matt always takes you through the movements clearly and is happy to go over anything when required. I enjoy the physicality of the Monday night class and the way it always pushes me to try something new or improve a move I have worked on before.

The Retina classes are definitely an enjoyable way to develop your abilities as a dancer, or to maintain technique and fitness. It is easy to try out a class to see if it is suitable for you, plus they are a great way to meet other dancers in Nottingham. I have definitely improved as a contemporary dancer since attending Retina classes and even mastered some moves I didn’t think I could do!" 

To find out more about when Retina's dance classes take place head over to the Nottingham Classes page.

To read more of Rachel's review check out her Twitter feed. Head over to LeftLion for Rachel's review of Corporalis and her interview with Artistic Director Filip Van Huffel.

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