At seven years old I attended my first ballet class when a friend asked me to come along after school one day.. To be quite honest, I don’t exactly remember what we done in the class but I will always remember how I felt after it. I have memories of thinking that I wasn’t allowed to be silly or laugh, this was serious stuff and some girls had been dancing since they were 2 they had told me! I recall feeling late to the party.. Why was everyone speaking in French words? The feeling I do specifically remember was that I never wanted to stop dancing after that night. & so I didn’t…
So…..Here I am (cringe) 7 years old and ready for my first ballet exam. A daunting day for any dancer who recognizes this attire and has danced in this skirt! Little did I know, the discipline of how these exams would shape me and provide me with a serious drive to never give up and strive to do my best which manifested throughout my life.
I can hold my hands up now as a “responsible adult” and honestly say my new found love for the art as a child, made me resent other areas of my life that were technically, more important such as; school, friendships & family life. It wasn’t easy for my family me being the diva that I was dancing my way through life thinking money fell from trees and that the next biggest thing was Dance summer camp.
17 years on.. I feel I have a lot to say about what dance has done for me. The highs and lows I have experienced growing up with dance as a huge part of my life and the valuable lessons this beautiful art has brought to me.
Determination – At the time of this photograph being taken I was unwell, but asked to sit the exam regardless. I remember not wanting to give in, all of the hard work leading up to that point had to be shown, the examiners only came to my town every 2 years from London. This was my first real lesson and challenge at a young age that I had faced with dance, giving up was not an option anymore. I wasn’t about to let all this hard work go to waste sulking in my bedroom.
Freedom & Discipline – School was a necessity and a place that I had to go to. I struggled to enjoy anything other than creative writing, art & physical activity throughout my high school education. Dance was a place for me to exert energy and have a real focus towards exams and becoming a stronger dancer. It challenged me and rewarded me when I worked hard every week and as an adult, I see now how from having this work hard to get better attitude started to apply in other areas of my life. This could make me competitive at times.. but I have learned from experiences that your biggest competition is always yourself and being the best version of you.
Creativity – The more I loved dancing the more I wanted to go. So it went from once a week to three times per week. I found Jazz and then I knew it wasn’t a hobby any longer but instead I decided that this is what I wanted to do every single day forever and ever. Jazz hands, glitter leotards & a chance to create routines. I loved it all. This boosted my imagination and self confidence that I never found in anything else. Being on stage in front of hundreds of people became second nature. I wasn’t afraid to show my hard work and efforts, this is a life lesson that has stuck with me ever since –
– Hard work pays off: As glamorous as dance looks on stage to an audience. I see that it is the journey of hard work before to reach this that feels rewarding to show.
Work hard in silence & Let success speak for itself.
Once I reached my teenage years and other areas of my life changed, Dance was still the upmost focus in my life although I did have a phase of putting dance second and drinking with my friends. I was more focused on what other people thought of me. Rather than focusing on myself.
My discipline from Ballet proved to keep my mind focused among some of the hardest years of my life. I remember questioning if Ballet was a “Cool” thing to do. I think it was always a surprise to people when I told them I done Ballet. As I reached high school and struggled to fit in well within an academic setting & system run structure, there wasn’t one subject that I particularly excelled at. Looking back, I see that I could have done very well in all subjects at school if I had the mindset I do now. All I seen at 14, 16.. 17 years old. Was dance. My mindset was wrong during high school.. because I knew I wanted to become a dancer. School wasn’t important to me so I always put it second. I remember telling my career adviser that I wanted to either teach dance or become a dancer.. Her facial expression told me everything she thought in that moment. “But you are very good at English” she said. Maybe you could consider this…
Life lesson : Don’t allow anyone to shatter your vision. If you feel in your gut you are destined for something. Do it with tunnel vision & protect your dream.
I want to be realistic about dreams..
If you have reached this point in my journey so far. I want you to imagine the one thing you would do if money didn’t play into it. and if the feeling of fear left. & I urge you to sit with a paper and pen & plan how you would do this if these two things didn’t exist. What steps would you need to take to make it work? Nothing is impossible.
How would it feel to live this life? Now take one small step in finding out more. Research into it. Read everything you can & feel like its already yours. This energy will come back to you.
Taking the jump to move away from my family town to a big city & into the unknown at Performing Arts College to study Dance terrified me so much, that I put it off for a year after leaving school in 6th year (how I made it to the end of school I don’t know!)
Looking back at a younger, scared me. I had no money. & a new born sister arrived. How could I just leave? I felt guilt & fear to pursue my day dreams of studying at dance college. It felt too big of a dream. Maybe it just wasn’t for me..
Life Lesson: Fuck Fear.
You are destined for greatness. Take the leap.
Yes there are so many reasons of why not to. Yes things can go wrong. Things will go wrong. Life does try to get in the way of your dreams.
But the universe rewards those who face there biggest fears.
Okay, So I don’t remember first day of dance class so well at seven years old. I do however remember my first & last college days as though they were yesterday. 4 years training to gain a degree in dance ultimately shaped me into who I stand as today 2 years on from graduation.
Physically training my mind & body to become better, challenged me beyond limits I didn’t know I could overcome. Becoming stronger & feeling able to do things I once thought were impossible taught me perseverance and patience.
It was a tough ride being so far from home & struggling with money following a dream only really I understood fully. I want to elaborate a little on this.. Only you will fully understand your vision. Don’t feel disheartened if people don’t ask questions or get how important it is to you. What matters is that you feel it. You know there is more meant for you… Follow that.
Hard work pays off.
Don’t let anyone shatter your dreams.
F Fear. You are meant for amazing things. Your dreams will reveal everything.
Dance has shown me what is possible.
Your dreams will do the same.
I love to teach dance and have found power in using dance for health benefits bringing this to others lives as well as my own. I have since decided to further study and learn Health Promotion & Public health as a postgrad!
I have seen the incredible benefits of what dance can do for both children & adults lives through teaching classes over the years & highly recommend anyone reading this thinking of now taking up a dance class.. To absolutely do it!
I will be forever grateful for being introduced to dance.
Let your dreams become your wings.