A DANCE school owner from Bradford who only held three classes before being shutdown for the second time has described her “frustration” over the easing of restrictions.

Paris Cherise Braithwaite-Hamilton operates two schools in the heart of West Bowling and 140 miles away in Anglesey, Wales.

And while her Welsh dancers have performed socially-distanced for the past four weeks, continued restrictions for the BD4 area mean she is unable to even operate outdoor classes.

Now, as dance schools across the Aire and Worth Valley prepare to reopen, she is appealing to Bradford Council and the Government to reopen all dance schools in line with the return to education.

She watched as groups of 30 footballers gathered in the field next to her outdoor class of five dancers and respected the decision to close back down, she said.

But as classrooms prepare to welcome back groups of 30 students, Paris is asking why her classes of five are not allowed, expressing concerns for those children who might mix with other dancers allowed to do what they love based on their postcode.

From next week she can run her PE dance classes in a school but not the sessions under Paris Cherise Dance Company.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

She’s compared her situation to the beauty industry, which was unable to open until July 13, while  barber shops and hairdressers served clients from July 4.

“It’s just boiling down to frustration,” Paris said.

“Up until yesterday evening we’d been really patient. To keep the kids involved we were doing Zoom lessons. We were doing that up until the end of July. They said on 21st July they could open them.

“We stopped the Zoom sessions as we realised they wasn’t enjoying it. With me having so many children, I was having to mute the children.

“We started the outside sessions in groups of five. Then two weeks they changed it that we couldn’t meet people outside our household.

“We all got in our minds, we’re going back as schools are back this week. We thought seriously they’ll be allowed back.

“It’s really infuriating.

“We always laugh and joke and say we’re more than a dance school, we all call each other family. They just want to get back to dance. I just rang them up and spoke to them. Some of them are there 4 till 8 two days a week. When we’re rehearsing for shows it can be four days. It’s upsetting. They want to go back into something they love. Their brothers can play football.

“I’d be more than happy doing what football teams are doing.

“I’ve had no business for five months with no income. It’s not even about that anymore, it’s about my mental health and the children.”

Referring to the Government’s Better Health push, Paris added: “It’s really infuriating because I’m having students where they’ve seen those adverts in magazines and TV saying ‘Fight child obesity, think about healthy eating’. We’ve got a push to eat out scheme at McDonald’s and I’m getting enquiries about the dance school but I’m having to turn them away. None of it makes sense.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

For many of her dancers, performing is an escape and helps manage mental health and wellbeing.

Before breaking down into tears, eight-year-old Isabelle Quirke said: "I’m really sad that I cannot go to dance, I miss dance and all my friends and miss Paris and Miss Makayla. It’s a big place, we could all stay apart and make sure we wash our hands, all I want to do is dance.”

From the eyes of someone in Wales, the situation appears “odd”.

Claire Thomas, a mum of two of Paris’ dancers living in Holyhead, said: “It’s really odd. The children are all getting back into school. They can go to school and there will be small groups. Our classrooms are taking 30 children. I know if Paris is there they get smaller groups. It doesn’t make sense, like we can have 30 children in a classroom all close to each other. It’s really confusing.”

Her 11-year-old and nine-year-old daughters have been back at dancing for four weeks.

Claire’s eldest daughter, Ellise Chiocchi, said: “It’s been really, really good. I’ve really enjoyed being back at dance. It’s nice to see everyone and Paris and I’m really enjoying being back. It was quite difficult to not be at the centre because it was hard to do it online. I think I was really missing everyone and being at dance.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: