This is where my dancing started. I went to classes at my local community hall from age 3, studying ballet and then tap, modern and jazz.
As I grew older the classes started to shrink as other people found better things to do on Saturday mornings. I persisted, gaining a lot of pleasure from the rare chance to find physical release (that wasn’t the humiliation of the school cross country run).
Then the exams started to take over, slowly but surely. I tried to hang on to my dancing time, but no-one else seemed that keen … I was an A* student, and an A* student studies. Dance didn’t come in to it.
So, having lost my precious dance classes I became engulfed by the stress and pressures of the education system. It was around this time that my depression really got going, meaning that I often found it difficult to get into college or socialise with friends. I continued produce A*s which, unfortunately meant that everyone assumed I was happy and fine.
I tried to go back to dance during my final year of college, as I missed it massively. However, when I danced now I was constantly aware of my weight, shape, height, hair. I felt too fat, too frumpy and nowhere near graceful. I couldn’t go on pointe, I couldn’t pick up routines quick enough, I didn’t bend the right way.
I wasn’t a dancer, I knew that.
At the end of college I decided to ditch the Cambridge offer I had received and go to Glasgow to study performance. This received mixed responses; my family were thrilled, my tutors disbelieving and my friends concerned. A lot of people were very worried that I’d regret this decision …. I can honestly say that in the three years since moving to Glasgow I haven’t regretted my choice for a second.
It is only now that I am accept that my body can move and that it’s movements may be of interest to an audience. I am still under-confident about my body, but the ethos I have developed from working both with Caroline Bowditch and Janice Parker is one of valuing ALL movement. This was revolutionary to me – I assumed there was right and wrong, better and worse, and that it you didn’t practice enough and cause your body enough pain you wouldn’t be good enough and that was that.
I am beginning to see the beauty of the body moving, but I am reluctant to call this ‘dance’. Maybe it is because I still have sore joints from forcing myself into the splits when I was yonder, but ‘dance’ feels far more rigid and disciplined than I want to feel. Bodies are an endless wonder to me, and I love to see bodies moving in all different ways. On the subway it isn’t rare for me to be staring intently at someone’s hand because it rests in their lap at an interesting angle. Bodies are a human unifier because we ALL have one, and as someone who values accessibility and equality it feels like the perfect place to start.
I am beginning to rediscover the joy both in my body and in movement, and gain confidence. Glory has helped this massively, as I feel like I am given the freedom to move as me, safe within the knowledge that an artistic eye is creating a bigger piece of work and that my movement isn’t just boring flail. It’s a bizarre feeling, but an excellent one.
These are my first, wobbly steps back on the path of movement, and I hope the path continues for a long, long time.