It's time to embrace your creative side
THE start of a new year is a good time to discover a new you and at Embrace Arts you certainly have every opportunity to explore your creative side.
There are classes in a wide variety of subjects – including belly dancing, photography, dance for toddlers and adults, visual art, crafts, music, art history, sculpture, pottery, literature and jewellery making.
Co-director Louisa Milburn says: "We have high-quality teaching in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. We have experienced and enthusiastic tutors, many of them practising artists in their own right.
"Our courses are also suitable for both established creatives looking to develop their talents and those wanting to learn new skills in an enjoyable way but without too much commitment."
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If you dare to be different, then dance tutor Hannah Myatt probably has the kind of class you are looking for.
Hannah, who performs under the stage name Doe Demure, is a professional dancer, dance teacher and choreographer who specialises in belly dance, burlesque, Hawaiian hula and hula hoop dance.
She has been seen in the city at large community events such as the Diwali lights switch on as well as at The National Space Centre, De Montfort Hall and Athena.
At Embrace Arts she teaches burlesque, belly dance and the new craze from America of dancing with hula hoops.
She says: "I will be doing some cheerleading workshops this year as well.
"It's quite a mix of people who come along. The hula hooping is more of an exercise thing from America but, with me, it's developed more as a dance class.
"With the burlesque, some are coming for a bit of a confidence boost but it is very popular at the moment because there's a lot of shows around Leicester.
"I have been doing belly dancing professionally for five or six years now but that's not as popular.
"Some of the people who come along do want to perform and I have got some burlesque students onto the stage. Some come for the exercise and most come for the fun and because it's something social.
"Numbers are growing in all classes. I think people are less interested in working out for the sake of it these days. They want something to work on and to enjoy."
Jenny Grevatte has been a tutor with Embrace Arts for 28 years. An established artist, she has had many solo shows nationally and internationally. In 2010, her work was exhibited simultaneously at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery and Embrace Arts.
She says: "We started out in a studio in what used to be the kitchen at the old Percy Gee building at the university and we were there for 17 years.
"I have seen a lot of students come and go and a lot have done so well with us they have gone on to do degrees and then they come back to us, sometimes to teach on the courses. So we have been doing a grand old job for a long while.
"We try to think of ourselves as a centre of excellence as there are plenty of come-and-try-to-paint watercolour classes – we try to offer more of what you would get at an art school. We find that anyone who comes along will learn as much from their fellow students as from the tutors and I always encourage some group criticism at the end of the day.
"All the tutors are practising artists, which is one of our strengths. So we can offer something a bit more challenging that will allow people to progress."
For Jenny, teaching also offers a break from the isolation of creating her own work.
She says: "I often pick a topic to teach that I'm working on. It's good to share it and get feedback. I'm always saying that I learn as much from the students. Art can be a lonely activity, so it's lovely to work with like-minded people.
"That's the level I teach at but we also have courses for people who have never done anything before and are a bit nervous about it."
Embrace's courses are also accessible for everyone.
Jenny says: "We encourage people with any level of disability to join in."
Louisa adds: "Embrace Arts is the University of Leicester's arts centre but you don't need formal qualifications and everyone is welcome."
Jenny Grevatte's most recent exhibition was held at the Goldmark Gallery, in Uppingham, and some of her work is still on show there. Go to www.goldmarkart.com. To find out more about courses at Embrace Arts go to www.embracearts.co.uk or call 0116 252 2455. Embrace Arts can be found on Lancaster Road, next to the fire station. Courses and workshops range in length from one day to 12 weeks and prices start from £22 for a day workshop.