The organisation which runs Snape Maltings is staging popular virtual tea dances to help bring some normality back to people’s lives during the coronavirus crisis - and tackle social isolation.

East Anglian Daily Times: Rob Gildon with the Tea Dance band and dancers from Glasshouse Dance recording the Virtual Tea Dance video Photo: Britten Pears ArtsRob Gildon with the Tea Dance band and dancers from Glasshouse Dance recording the Virtual Tea Dance video Photo: Britten Pears Arts (Image: Archant)

Tea dances at Snape Maltings have been hugely popular, becoming valued by residents of East Suffolk care homes, their carers and people of all ages for the opportunity to socialise in a warm, welcoming environment and enjoy music, dancing, tea and cake.

This year, bringing people together in a physical venue is not possible - so instead, Britten Pears Arts is planning a virtual version of the Tea Dance, taking place on Tuesday, December 8 at 2pm.

Britten Pears Arts hopes that many people from across Suffolk will sign up to join in from the safety of their homes.

An hour-long video, featuring a tea dance band, dancers from Glasshouse Dance and presented by workshop leader Rob Gildon, will guide participants through the dances.

The team have plenty of helpful suggestions for people of all ages and abilities, from dance steps to rhythms to tap on a tea cup with a spoon.

The aim, as with the usual ‘physical’ tea dances, is to have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing and to create a sense of togetherness and community through music.

The virtual tea dance is especially aimed at care home residents and carers, and people who may feel isolated - but anyone of any age is encouraged to join in.

Performer and project coordinator Caroline Speca says: “I am delighted that we have managed to record an uplifting tea dance to be enjoyed at home.

“I know that it will be a tonic for all those who watch it. Put your dancing shoes on, warm up your singing voice and get ready to join in with as much or as little as you like.”

Care homes signing up will receive a DVD of the video, along with a hamper of goodies donated in part by Waitrose Saxmundham and delivered by volunteers from Sanctuary Personnel.

Individuals will receive a link to watch online, dance tips and recipes, and invitations to join online groups on Tuesday, December 8 hosted by Britten Pears Arts, Dance East, Suffolk Libraries and other partners.

Isobel Turner, Wellbeing Co-ordinator at Rendlesham Care Home, says: “More than ever before we need to bring our residents together in celebration as a community and the tea dance will provide us with just that special occasion to be enjoyed by all. Recently, precious memories have been made in our attendance at Snape and many more old memories of years gone by will be evoked by the music and ambiance we’re aiming to recreate, courtesy of the Tea Dance DVD.”

People can sign up for the December 8 tea dance on the Snape Maltings website.