Why Alan is still putting on his tap shoes at 82
Staying active Alan, 82, has been dancing all his life. Now he teaches a tap dance class for middle-aged and senior people — and, he says, its health and wellbeing benefits speak for themselves.
When did you first learn to tap dance?
"I was about 12. I went to a dance school for around seven years and managed to keep it going all the way through my working career — I was a physical training instructor in the Royal Air Force — and I've been doing it ever since. After the RAF, I worked at a further education college and I did some performing arts there, too.
I just love dancing. I got to the quarter finals of Britain's Got Talent; and on New Year's Day I came first on Diversity Presents Steal The Show on ITV and won a trip to the US."
What is it about dance that you like?
"I've always thought of it as therapy. That's because when you dance, you can't afford to think about anything else. And you get great personal satisfaction along with all the health and wellbeing benefits."
How did you get involved as an Age UK volunteer?
"My wife worked a few hours at Age UK. I was already teaching dance classes, so Age UK suggested I start a class for them in the area. It's a two-hour class every week, averaging around 10 to 15 people. The youngest is around 40, the eldest is 83. Some people are absolute beginners and it takes me about six months to get them anywhere near fitness. Then again, one or two have been dancing in the West End and on cruise ships, and they're very capable."
Can dance help with arthritis?
"It can, absolutely. In fact, I went to Australia about three years ago to teach remedial tap to people with arthritis and osteoporosis. One or two people in the class I teach now have arthritis.
"We always get medical advice to make sure we're working at the right pace and I'm a qualified sports coach, so we give them exercises to suit their complaint."
Is dance good for mental health?
"It's as much a mental challenge as a physical one for me because I do my own choreography. I have to try to come up with different routines every time to keep the lessons fresh. For the pupils, it's challenging, physically advantageous and mentally refreshing.
"It's also a very sociable thing to do. If it's someone's birthday we'll go out for a coffee after the class. Actually, the social side of it is as important as the dance itself."
Finding Your Feet
When ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott discovers that her husband of forty years is having an affair with her best friend, she seeks refuge with her estranged, older sister Bif.
The two could not be more different – Sandra is a fish out of water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free spirited sibling.
But different is just what Sandra needs and she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to her community dance class which changes her life as she gradually starts finding her feet… and romance.
You can catch Finding Your Feet in cinemas on the 23rd February 2018.