Izzy when she was younger, living her 'Dance Moms' fantasyIzzy Benardout with permission for Varsity

Apparently, adding structure and routine to your life is a surefire way to increase productivity and overall mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a morning meditation, a skincare regimen, or the dreaded scorn of a revision timetable, creating a structure to meld your days around is supposedly better for you than waking up at 11am, eating cereal out of the box and not attending lectures for three weeks (who would have thought?!). So, with the hope of shiny new Lent Term as the wind beneath my two left wings, my friend and I put our names down for CUTAZZ’s beginner commercial class as our weekly ‘exercise’ instalment.

When I proudly told my mother that I was returning to my childhood hobby, she asked what exactly ‘commercial’ was. Gone were the days of tutus, kirby grips, and dubious Dance Moms behaviour; I was now entering the world of what I described as “a bit like street dance, but more girly!” In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure myself what ‘commercial’ was, but my friend assured me that I’d like it, and so I put my name down on the beautifully organised spreadsheet (I’d expect nothing less from a choreographer).

“Dipping our pointed toes into the murky waters of a dance class was all new to us, and our bemused friends”

When 5:30pm on Friday rolled around, I donned my most exercise-appropriate clothing, grabbed a water bottle, and headed to Queen’s College for the class. Evidently, our nervous magnetism was bringing everyone we had ever known into our orbit, as bumping into mutual friends and telling them we were on our way to a dance class elicited amusing reactions. Naturally, we were stalwarts of the Revs dance floor, yet dipping our pointed toes into the murky waters of a dance class was all new to us, and our bemused friends.

Once we had arrived at Queen’s, got lost once and eventually found the right place, we paid for the class and entered the room – which I will henceforth refer to as the ‘studio’ for the sake of professionalism. The first thing we noticed was how insanely good the vibes were – everyone was so happy! Of course, dancing to a Grease MegaMix after a bottle of Sainsbury’s cheapest wine and two JägerBombs brings joy, but the group’s excitement for another term of dance was palpable – and reassuring. After making ourselves known to the teacher as first-timers, we quickly befriended another newbie and found our place at the back of the room, where we could happily copy the person in front and slip out the door if you needed to have a smoking-induced coughing fit (just me, not my friend).

“Trying new things halfway through your second year can feel uncomfortably reminiscent of freshers”

First was the warm up, and when the first bar of Ariana Grande’s new, morally ambiguous, song ‘Yes, and?’ rang out from the speaker, I heard an exclamation of ‘slay!’ from my friend. With a 98% match Spotify Blend, my friend and I know that you cannot bust moves without good music. Therefore, as we star-jumped, high-kneed, and lunged to the beat, the Angevin Room could have been my first-year room, where I accidentally gave regular performances to the Jesus students living opposite my window – sorry!

Then, the routine itself. The regulars had been learning the piece since the end of Michaelmas, yet the teacher was more than willing to recap the choreography so us newcomers could pick it up. While the routine is for CUTAZZ’s upcoming show – which I will most definitely be attending – there is no pressure to participate in the showcase if you do not want to. The supportive, laid-back environment of the class stood out from the moment we entered, and it’s clear that this extends to the wider society.


Mountain View

Mead after midnight and clerically-cosplayed pub crawls at ASNC soc

An hour flew by, and by the end of the class, we had learnt the choreography to a verse and the chorus of one of Nicki Minaj’s biggest hits. While my friend and I were by no means hitting every beat or every position, the sense of accomplishment was undoubtedly there. Firstly, attending in the first place was a big step. Trying new things halfway through your second year can feel uncomfortably reminiscent of freshers, and generally, I am quite happy mousing between Sidney, Sigdwick, and Sainsbury’s – so I was quietly proud of myself for going. Secondly, while many refuse to accept dance as a sport, it is most definitely exercise, and attending a class is part of my longer term plan to improve my relationship with it. As someone who was traumatised by PE at school and is generally apathetic to competition, sport was never for me. I never got that rush of endorphins that everyone talked about, the feeling that you could run forever, even when your ankles had turned to jelly and you could taste blood and regret.

Yet, as we walked back to college with a spring in our step and choreography to practise, we felt pumped-up and empowered. In fact, we both concluded that we were “ready to hit Mash” following our foray into the world of commercial dance. CUTAZZ holds classes every day of the week, and I could easily see myself becoming a regular attendee. So, if you are at a loose end one evening of the week and fancy hitting the dance floor, I could not recommend it enough.