Qualified

_20180724_161049.JPGLately I’ve been pondering the question of when you are allowed to call yourself a dancer. I keep saying to people that I take dance classes, or I’m learning to tap dance, but hesitate to say I’m a ‘dancer’ probably because in the past people told me I had missed the boat, I was too old etc when I said I wanted to dance and do choreography, plus I don’t perform, I never took any grades in anything, and so on. Yet when I think about it, I’ve actually been dancing for over 15 years.

Did you have to start dancing as a 2 year old to qualify?

Despite the opportunity I had with my dad supplying dance shoes to all the local dance schools (Ballroom, Latin, Ballet, Jazz) I didn’t take formal dance lessons as a child, and only started with a weekly freestyle jazz class at University, culminating in a show that I invited friends and family to watch. But there’s enough stories out there of professional dancers or dance teachers who started learning late. It’s much harder, but it’s possible.

Is it about how often you dance?

Once working I started doing weekly dance classes at my local theatre, which included street jazz, break dance, and even a bit of Charleston to Amy Winehouse, plus a performance at the end of the Summer term with a work colleague I managed to convince to join me. We were working during the day, so we missed the dress rehearsal – doh!

Since working in London where there are lots if places to dance I’ve pretty much been dancing most weeks with the odd break to like, be ill or move house 🙂

Must you be performing regularly? 

I’m not as bothered about performing these days as I’m just dancing for the love of it, and to learn something new (rhythm tap – yeah!).  When I was still going to classes at the theatre I enjoyed the opportunity to perform a bit and did a street jazz solo at a talent contest two years in a row. If I was learning at a specific dance school I would probably have more opportunity to perform now in end of year or termly shows. Mind you, I believe the advanced level classes at my facility do take part in the end of term shows…

Or is it about your commitment to and passion for dance?

I think it’s a lifestyle. Dancing as regularly as you can, training, learning, improving, trying new things, evolving. Or, you may have been a dancer in the past who stays inspired by watching dance, reading, writing, inspiring others, attending events.

How tap dance differs

I love doing ballet classes, but because it’s a formal style of dance that takes a lot of training and can be elitist, most adult learners [read: beginners] would not call themselves a ballet dancer, and certainly NOT a ballerina/ballerino. However, since throwing myself into rhythm tap, practicing constantly and reading all about its humble beginnings on slave plantations and street corners, where people make up their own steps and styles which they challenge each other with and steal from others, I realise I can call myself a dancer. Tap is informal and everyone is invited to contribute something (hence improvisation). A lot of people who have been dazzled by the showy Broadway version of tap don’t realise it’s actually a social dance, like Salsa or Swing.

I’m starting to feel like I can call myself a tap dancer…but definitely not a Hoofer…just yet 😉

What do you think? Do you call yourself a dancer? Or do you feel like you have a long way to go before you qualify? Maybe you feel like this in some other area of life?

Home Dance Studio

During my week off work I finally got to set up my home dance studio/gym in the garage! Now I have somewhere to practise tap dance 😀👍👍

It is a great space because the people who owned the house before had installed electricity for lights and heating, plus a proper door from the garden and a window, which brings natural light. There is also plenty of light from the transparent roof.

The studio is comprised of the following:

  • Interlocking foam floor tiles (wood effect)
  • 3 over-the-door mirrors (around £14 each from The Range)
  • Cube unit for storing dumbbells etc
  • Foldaway ballet barre
  • Tap board
  • Motivational posters
  • Plants

I had attached some red ‘Dance’ lettering to the wall above the mirrors, but it fell down and broke overnight, so I need to find a way fix it and try to attach it more securely.

The next task is to get rid of the rest of the furniture sitting at the other end of the garage!

I’m so pleased with it because I was getting kind of frustrated with having nowhere to practise other than in the corridors and toilets at work. Yay!

Has anyone done anything similar?

A Bit of Viewing

On Sunday night I happened to catch Darcey Bussell’s New Dance on BBC2. In case you haven’t heard of her, Darcey Bussell was a principal ballerina with the Royal Ballet at the age of 20, and now retired, is currently president of the Royal Academy of Dance and a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

Here she introduces us to innovative modern dance, with jaw dropping performances by Boy Blue Entertainment (award winning hip hop dance) and Le Patin Libre (amazing contemporary ice dance).

I enjoy watching Strictly, but it is more of a crowd-pleasing type of show, so it’s nice to see some fresh expressions of modern, contemporary dance on mainstream television. There are some fabulous artists out there.

If you can, catch up on BBC iplayer:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09qjl7l/darcey-bussells-new-dance

It’s available for 27 days.

Nominated 

I am chuffed to have been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! I have always loved writing, so naturally I ended up starting a blog about my dance pursuits, especially now that I’m learning to tap dance.

The Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto Enigma and I love the idea behind it of highlighting all the unknown blogs and creative writers out there: https://www.okotoenigmasblog.com/my-greatest-creation-yet/

I would like to thank Dorky Dancing for nominating me! She writes a great dance blog and is my most enthusiastic follower. I enjoy reading her posts about all the different dance classes she’s doing.

Here is a list of the rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three facts about me:

1.  I work in Human Resources but also make and sell soap in my spare time
2.  I have a degree in English Literature but am also qualified as a fitness instructor
3.  I have a cat from Essex called Ruby who is 3 years old and I believe is a (part?) Norwegian Forest Cat. She has a very fluffy bottom and she pops up in the blog every now and then!

Your Questions Answered:

1. If you were a soup, which flavour of soup would you be? Spicy pumpkin – I’ve been told I’m warm and comforting

2. What causes you to doubt yourself? Overthinking – just do it!

3. If time, money, distance, relationships and education were not an issue, what would be your dream job? I would be an interior designer, like Kelly Hoppen. Other than that
I would love to run my handmade soap business full time. Beach-side. In a warm climate.

4. What does your dream house look like? It sounds extremely cheesy but I feel like I moved into my dream house when I moved in November. It’s a Victorian terraced house; old and wonky, but I love it. Other than that, it would be house with a verandah and a dance studio!

Verandah
That’ll do

5. What dance move or style would you like to master? I would LOVE to master tap dance – it’s quite hard, especially beginning in adulthood and there’s so much to learn! Another thing would be a pirouette – so far I’ve only really ever done the preparation steps.

Pay it Forward

I don’t follow too many blogs, but here are the ones who I enjoy reading and also deserve this accolade of nomination:

  • Dorky Dancing – she was very kind to nominate me and I really enjoy reading her posts about her dancing and the classes she attends. She has a great sense of humour too!
  • Adult Ballerina Project – the first ballet blog I started reading when I was trying Ballet classes for the first time. She hasn’t posted in a long time because I think she decided to stop writing it, but there’s loads to read about the ballet journey as an adult beginner. Inspired me to start a dance blog.
  • On The Way to the Barre – loads of ballet chat and tips, and nice photos. She also has a cat.
  • Ballet.to – a very honest ballet blog written by May to inspire others having a go at Ballet.
  • Dance your Buns Off – another ballet blog. Lots of  helpful tips and I like reading the interviews with professional dancers.
  • Tweed and the Beard – a non-dance blog all about food and meal prepping! I love food and cooking, so I enjoy reading her posts, especially when it comes to lunchbox ideas. She started following me fairly recently.

5 questions for my nominees:

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. What would you most like to achieve in 2018?
  3. What is your favourite song, like ever?
  4. What is your favourite dance step or move?
  5. Which animal would be your Harry Potter Patronus? (Mine is a cat obvs)

And finally, check out my post about my day at Rambert’s Adult Contemporary Summer Intensive 2017! 

 

Reflections on 2017

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I have finally had a chance this weekend to think back over the last year and my various dance pursuits. Some of the highlights:

  • Rambert Contemporary Dance Summer School – such a good day and I managed to keep up with the full time dance students, even with painful achilles tendons 🙂
  • Move It Dance 2017 – I go to this exhibition in London’s Docklands every year, but in 2017 I pushed the boat out and took a tap class with the Guinness World Record breaking tap dancer Jo Scanlan of Tap Attack!
  • Learnt the Shim Sham and had a go at Tap improvisation
  • Did ballet (barre only) course at improvers level at City Lit after pining for ballet for some time
  • Got my Maud & Chloe Arnold tap shoes for Christmas

I look forward to continuing my tap dance training and attending some more festivals and workshops in 2018!

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LCBC (Last class before Christmas) 

I am just on my way home from my last ballet class of the year. To warm up I walked from Waterloo Bridge to Citylit and then just did some stretches at the barre once I was changed (I had intended to change before leaving work and leave a bulky cardigan there, but there’s a girl who won’t stop talking and I literally had to just grab ‘n’ go LOL).

I hadn’t been since moving house, so I felt a bit unsure of myself, but it was ok! We were challenged with some longer sequences including battement glisses, battement piques en croix, attitudes in front and behind, pas de bouree, and more! I had another one of those moments where 2 of us were asked to demonstrate the pas de bouree exercise and I was literally blank until the moment I began! ‘Adult Learner After Work Brain’ or ALAWB syndrome, I call it 😁

We ended the class in the centre (ooh!)  with reverence which we never usually do as it’s a barre only class. I thought id never done it, but part way through, I realised this is what we did every week at Aviv when I was doing their 8 week adult ballet beginners course. Anyway, I enjoyed it.  Made me think about doing Classical Ballet beginners or improvers, but I’ll have to see as I’m all psyched up for returning to RHYTHM TAP in January!

What are your dance plans for the new year?

At Long Last

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So after all that drama, we finally moved house last Wednesday!!! Although I had Tuesday-Friday booked as annual leave from work, I ended up being ill from the Sunday and off work sick on the Monday before moving. Not surprising really as buying/selling/moving house is one of the most stressful things EVER. I have actually been ripping out the grey hairs that have been springing up from my head throughout the year.

I was still feeling pretty rough on move day, but got through it on adrenaline…and sugar! But, I think that full-on day has set me back because I returned to work on the following Monday, still not feeling all that great and ended up worse for dragging myself in, so I was in bed Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I was about to email my ballet teacher to tell him I wouldn’t be there again this Wednesday, but before I got around to it, I received an email (and voicemail) from the college to let me know that the class was cancelled because our teacher had an emergency and couldn’t get cover, but he’s going to chat about an extra class when we meet next week. Result!