CHILDREN have kept dancing during lockdown thanks to an Oxfordshire-based dance school that has continued classes both online and outdoors.

Elite Dance School, based in Bicester, has been doing its best to keep its members active during the coronavirus pandemic despite restrictions being introduced.

Hayley Byrd, dance instructor and owner of Elite Dance, stopped classes at her studio at the old St Edburg's School in Bicester town centre when schools closed back in March.

She decided to teach via recorded videos instead so that her students could keep learning their routines.

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She said: “We put on online classes which the kids really liked but we found that they missed the interaction that you get from a normal class.

“So we later decided to do Zoom classes and they loved that because they could talk to each other.

“Then when lockdown eased, I thought how can we get us outdoors and make this work?”

The teacher was able to set up a marquee and gazebos in the school playground to hold outdoor classes.

Oxford Mail:

More than 130 children aged 3-16 attend each week in socially distanced groups of five or less.

She added: “We never knew what kind of reaction we were going to get from parents. But the emails I have got from them make me cry.

“I think they are grateful that it’s on still, as it gives their children something to do. They are happy that we’ve been able to get their children out of the house and dancing.

“Introducing the outdoor classes has been very welcomed so we can all connect face to face again, albeit at a social distance.”

Ms Byrd has been running the dance school for 10 years but it was established back in 1989.

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Children can learn different dance styles such as ballet, tap, musical theatre and street dance and the teacher says the activity is a good way to look after your mental health.

She said: “This is something that I can keep doing for the kids. I don't want that to go away. Getting through lockdown is the making not the breaking of Elite Dance because I love what I do."

The dance school tried to set a new Guinness World Record title for the most users to take an online Jazz dance lesson in 24 hours in May.

It had to exceed 2,000 views of its online class on YouTube but were 500 people short.

Oxford Mail:

Other clubs in Bicester have continued during lockdown, adapting the way they operate.

Swimming teacher, Andrea Douglas, says it is important for children to keep practicing how to swim during lockdown otherwise they will forget what they have already learnt.

Her classes for babies were being taught from a bath and she said she was able to focus on stroke technique and stamina for older children and adults by doing 'land practices' via Zoom.