During my 5 year wait to join a dance school, I would carefully watch my favourite music videos, practice and listen to my favourite songs about 100 times until I knew the words and steps off by heart. On Saturday’s my mum and aunt would take me shopping, and I still remember that time in Asda when my aunt said she was no longer coming back with me if I didn’t stop dancing down the aisles. I was shocked and appalled at her lack of support for a second, but then I decided to take myself off to the next aisle, and dance there; when no one was watching. I loved it.
Eventually after one of our holiday trips to to Blackpool, I managed to convince mum to take me along to dance class. It came pretty soon after an incident at The Pepsi Max Roller coaster where I refused to go on, (due to fear of heights and fast moving cars that I can’t control), but instead I decided to make the most of a dull situation, and dance to the music beside that said roller coster. My friend and her mum went ahead to queue for the ride, and mum and me held the coats at the bottom, with the biggest smile on my face. Gosh the butterflies from just the thought of going on that thing back then was enough adrenalin for me at that time. My Mum, being the social bee that she is was on the phone to my aunt when I decided to let the beat take me to a different place.
I would get pictures of moves in my head that I picked up from the many RnB/Hip Hop music video I would watch for hours on end. I found a confidence in me that when I danced, I didn’t just enjoy it, but it felt like a release of energy that for some may have been to jump on a roller coaster ride, but this was my way of having fun. This is where I could just be me.
So as I my dancing feet continued to move to the background music, it later came to my attention that I was gathering a crowd of folks watching. There was one woman also standing next to us, and seemingly waiting on her party to come off the ride, who also witnessed me dancing – I used to be so careful to dance when no one was watching, but unfortunately on this occasion I failed. The woman approached my mum and said, ‘You have a great little dancer there. She’s a good one.’ The next thing I remember I was entering our local community hall where I witnessed a flood of young girls in black leotards, with black and white leggings and white tap shoes, and some with red bows in their hair. I’m not quite sure if this was the straw that broke the camels back, but I will be forever grateful to that woman! And I love my mum!
You can imagine my amazement though. I think I had a t-shirt, shorts and some barbie trainers to begin with on my first day. We bought the tap shoes, and jazz shoes, which were required, but my Mum wanted to wait and find out if I’d stick the class before going on a spending spree. I was invited along for a trial session. Who needs a trial when you’ve been begging for 5 years to get here? I was so excited that I’d kind of jump and shuffle as I walked, hoping to the sound of the dance music billowing out of the big hall. The teachers looked very serious and scary though. I walked in to a small room, as everyone seemed to be split between several rooms. There were older girls too, tall ones, and small ones. In my room there were twelve. They all had batons, which I quickly noticed I was without. The dark haired teacher with short curly hair called me to the front, and asked me to stretch out my arm. Why did she need my arm? I wondered. Just then she stuck a small metal stick, with two white rubber ends under my arm and measured it to find the right fit. The first one didn’t seem good enough. I think it was too small, so she went to fetch the next size up. ‘There you go. Now you stand over here.’ She said as she shuffled me into a space on the front row, and moved the other girls along accordingly. I didn’t seem to recognise any of the girls in my class, except one girl who was from my school. I kept looking out the big bay windows in front of us, and watching the older girls go by with black and red dance bags, and co-ordinated jackets that looked super cool. I wanted to be one of them. The teacher starts the track, and begins to demonstrate some basic moves with the baton. I found it interesting that she would use the analogy of strawberry and chocolate ice cream when taking us through the motion of a horizontal spin. Stripped back we were to imagine dipping our stick into a two bowls of ice cream, one on each side. I think if she had actually bought some ice cream in for the illustration then I would have picked that skill up faster, but looking back I was pretty sold by the idea and willing to do what it took to learn.
The first few weeks seemed to be so simple. The steps didn’t look like the fancy ones I saw advertised on TV. Many years later, I now understand the importance of those basic steps, and how they set me up to win the trophies, medals and awards years to come. Now I understand that to be good at anything in life it starts with taking a few simple steps.