Argyll School of Celtic Arts dance instructor Debra Parmenter with shoes for a variety of dance styles. She is leading a new class for adult beginners this fall.

Argyll School of Celtic Arts dance instructor Debra Parmenter with shoes for a variety of dance styles. She is leading a new class for adult beginners this fall.

Dancing for the sheer joy of it

Dance teacher Debra Parmenter offers women of all ages a chance, or a re-chance, to dance.

You can dance if you want to.

“Anyone of any age can learn to dance for enjoyment, exercise and artistic expression at any age,” said Debra Parmenter. “Sometimes people think that they have missed their opportunity if they were not able to get started when they were young but dance is a natural, inborn ability — you can start where you are, which is all anyone can do with anything.”

Parmenter, an instructor at Argyll School of Celtic Arts, has a new class for adult beginners who have little or no dance background and need nothing more than a desire to learn and some soft shoes to get started.

“This a chance, or a re-chance, to dance. We will start with slowly building flexibility and artistic movement. The classes will be geared to the ability of who’s there,” she said. “This will be with ballet-style movements, then moving on to tap and shuffles. It’s fun to make noise.

“There will be some of what we call stage stuff but no one is going to have to be on stage or perform. This is for the love of dance, a graceful exercise class but something more. Let out your inner diva. No tutu required unless you really want it.”

Since the class is for women of all ages, she hopes to see some mother-daughter and maybe grandmother-granddaughter pairs attending. It’s also great for friends or to come and make new friends.

“Sometimes adults are reluctant to try something new because they think they have to be perfect right from the start. Learning new things is good for the brain and body and there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

“People with experience make it look easy but we all had to start somewhere. You move from being a beginner to not a beginner more quickly than you might think.”

It was three women who wanted to learn to dance who inspired her to create the adult class. They had a few classes but one got discouraged and they didn’t come back. She hopes to see these women come back to follow their interest in dancing.

Parmenter has been dancing ever since she can remember. She started highland dancing classes at seven, inspired by a neighbour who played bagpipes, and has kept it up as a student and teacher ever since. She also took other dance lessons and qualified as a teacher.

One of her most memorable dance experiences was performing at a Robbie Burns Dinner at the British Embassy in Tokyo with a group of Japanese highland dancers when she was there teaching English.

“Highland dancing is popular in Japan and around the world. There are so many wonderful dance traditions in every culture that everyone can find one to enjoy. Dance is something you do because you love it.”

Parmenter is a French and Spanish (and sometimes Japanese) teacher at Vernon secondary school and an advisor with student drama productions. She plays the harp and is a member of the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus of which she is co-director with Carol Abernathy.

Argyll School of Celtic Arts was founded several years ago by Janet Hackman.

“Her philosophy is that people should enjoy dance. Competition is good for people who choose that but it is not the sole emphasis. Dance is about the joy of moving and each person takes that where they want to as they continue to learn for their whole lives,” said Parmenter, who said she is always delighted to learn more about the many kinds of dance she enjoys.

She is happy to talk to anyone who is considering the adult class about their hopes and needs. The class runs Thursdays from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15. Contact her at 250-558-5591 or

For Argyll School of Celtic Arts dance, music, acting and other classes for students of all ages and levels call 250-558-7370 or see