After arriving back home from New York on the Tuesday, you would probably have thought that we would have given ourselves a few days off to recover and get back to normal. But nope, unfortunately not, we had to jump straight back into the ‘Real World’.
Wednesday and Thursday flew by in a jet lagged blur and then we were at Friday. The day I had been soo looking forward to and dreading all at the same time. Why?…. Because I was performing in my first dance show of the weekend……. My first dance show in nearly 10 years. Eek!
To give you a brief history into my dance life, ha. It goes as follows… At the age of 2 or 3 year’s old my parents decided to take me to a weekly ballet & tap class. The reason being, I apparently loved music and would dance/move/bop to anything they put on the radio, plus I didn’t sleep ha. So they thought this would help with both things. I loved it and over the years I took part in numerous dance shows, carnivals, fates, medal tests etc, along with passing tap and ballet exams and meeting my life long friends along the way.
^^ I’m the 4th from the left, I clearly didn’t want to smile that day! 😉
^^ I’m in the pink outfit, back row, 2nd from left
^^ I’m in the white outfit, first on the left, kneeling with my arm out (I’m still best friends with 3 of the girls in this picture!)
I dabbled in Disco Dancing and Modern but quickly realised they weren’t for me. As a teenager I also started taking weekly jazz and stretch classes along with the ballet, pointe work and tap classes I continued to take.
At the age of 14 I danced in a Variety Show at The London Palladium. This was an incredible experience and I loved every minute of it. Coming from a small town on the South Coast, I loved visiting the bright lights of London 🙂
^^ I’m 2nd from left
^^ I’m on the left. My sister, Heidi is also in black on the right. At the front is my cousin Tara who has just turned 18! Crazy.
And at 15 I auditioned to take part in The English Youth Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty. I got a role and was soo excited. The training and rehearsals were tough, during the school half terms we would be in pointe shoes for hour’s a day. But I loved it. I love the discipline of ballet and dancing with professional Ballerina’s was inspiring.
Throughout my dance years, I also used to take part in master classes by Wayne Sleep. He is a phenomenal dancer but also has a funny and caring personality. I love him.
^^ This was my last master class aged 17, I’m on the left, Wayne Sleep in the middle and Heidi is on the right
Things changed a bit though from 16-18. You’re at that age where most people have stopped dancing OR they are taking it very seriously going to actual dance colleges etc. And I was in the middle. I was the only one of my friends to still have a ‘hobby’ but would take it seriously dancing 2 or 3 nights a week. However my family couldn’t afford for me to go to dance college in London. And I never thought I was good enough to audition for the scholarships (In hindsight I should have just gone for it). So I stayed at school, completed my A Levels and then at 18 just before school actually finished, I decided to go to a few auditions, just to see what people said about me and to see what was out there.
Needless to say I got told No, a lot. I had thick skin, I’ve been used to criticism since 3 years old it’s part of being a dancer, but it still hurts. The thing that annoyed me most though was most of the time I barely even got a chance to dance. Appearance was a major factor too and if you didn’t have ‘a look’ or weren’t the right size or height, it would be a no before you had even started. One time I had been queuing since 5 am for a dance TV show and by the time I was seen at around 11 am I was straight away told I didn’t have the right look, I was still allowed to dance for 30 seconds but then it was a No. I knew it was going to be a No regardless of what I did. Seriously couldn’t they have told me that at 5 am? The majority of the time it was my height, I’m 5 ft 2 and most of the auditions I would see, would be minimum 5ft 5, so I didn’t even bother going.
^^ A couple of pics from ‘modelling’ mostly for friends Uni projects haha
During this process a few girls had talked about catalogue modelling and that it was quick, easy money. So I looked into that too. I went for a casting in London for a dance wear and swimwear line. I got through a couple of rounds but didn’t make it to the end. When I got home that night I got a phone call from a scout who had seen me at the casting and was offering me a job. I was so excited, this was it… my big break. But what job did he offer me?….
A Pole Dancing gig at a major strip club in London, he said I had the potential to make lots of money. I am being totally serious. As tempting as that sounded 😉 I politely declined. Who knows, maybe I would have been a millionaire now if I had taken the job haha. But that was the end for me, I had had enough and if people only saw me as being a stripper what was the point? School was over and I needed to earn money and get a ‘proper’ job as I had no intention of going to Uni. So that is what I did. Admittedly now, looking back I gave up way too easily and probably should have tried a lot harder but I clearly didn’t have the drive, otherwise I would have done.
I carried on dancing at my local dance school, but it wasn’t the same. My friends had all left, I was the oldest in the class – which the younger ones would bitch about and I was jealous of them getting the good jobs or going off to dance college. So at 21 I stopped dancing altogether.
21 was a big year of change for me. I stopped dancing, I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly 4 years and I left my job that I had had since I was 18. It was a bit of a weird and long year. But at the end of it I met Matt 🙂 so you know, when one door closes, another one opens and all that! 😉
Anyway I digress, back to dancing!….
I tried out a couple of adult Ballet classes while I still lived with my parents, but they were all rubbish. I don’t blame the teachers at all, but all the classes seemed to be aimed at beginner’s. For adults who really hadn’t done ANY Ballet training before and that was just too slow and boring for me. I still wanted to learn and I still needed to be pushed.
I moved up to South London to live with Matt and phoned around a few local dance schools, but no one wanted me 😦 I either got told that they didn’t do adult classes, they didn’t go up to the grade I wanted to take or they only took up to 18 year old’s. It was all annoying and frustrating. So I tried other activities thinking I could replace dancing, zumba, kettlebells and even running. But I hated them all. I didn’t have any friends to go with and everyone at these places seemed to already be quite cliquey. So in the end I gave up all of them. Matt will tell you I was pretty miserable. Not just about the dancing, but lots of other things built up too including moving away from my friends and family who I missed.
But last Summer I finally got out of my funk and got a kick up the bum I needed (putting on 2 stone will do that to you!!). I had to start dancing again and so phoned around lots of different dance schools and FINALLY found someone who would take me, it was roughly a 40 minute drive away from our flat but I didn’t care.
I started last September and I haven’t looked back. I now do Advanced 1 Tap on a Monday night. Yes I’m with girls roughly 10 years younger than me but do you know what? I don’t care and neither do they. We get on great, no bitching or back stabbing, just normal, sweet girls. I’m actually going to be sad when a few of them leave to go off to college and uni this summer! Then on a Tuesday night I do adult Ballet. And this is the BEST adult Ballet class I have ever been to. Our teacher is lovely, we’re able to have a gossip and a laugh. Yet she still pushes us when we need it or want it.
Now we have moved to Surrey, I’m only 10 minutes away from dancing which is a bonus. Plus I’ve made lots of new friends through ballet, who I now see outside of class too. We keep saying we need to arrange more dinners and drinks!
Then in January our teacher dropped the bomb. The school would be putting a dance show on in May and would we like to be part of it? It was a real 50/50 split with half the class saying no and the rest saying yes. But there was no pressure and she promised not to make the routine too hard! I did a tap routine too.
I loved learning routines again, practising around the house, at work, at my desk, in the toilets! I couldn’t stop. And the costumes were beautiful. It was exciting. Plus I have lost just over half a stone which is great, just another half to go!
So then finally at the end of May, we took our places on stage and went for it. I was so nervous! I had totally forgotten the butterfly stomach feeling you get, the excitement of dancing in front of an audience, the craziness of quick changes. I love it all!
I actually performed in 4 shows over the weekend, 2 on Friday and 2 on Sunday. (I had to miss the Saturday show as we had a wedding, adult commitments!) It all went by so fast though, I’m now quite gutted it’s over.
^^^ Me in my tap outfit
^^ Adult Ballet ladies. I’m the short one! 4th from the front
^^ Ballet selfie, I’m in the front row, 3rd from left.
After all the shows were over on the Sunday night, all us ballet ladies went out for dinner together to celebrate, lots of good food and bubbles were had. I think we deserved them! 😉 (pic below)
So now it’s back to normal classes until we break up for Summer, just a shame I don’t have the summer holidays off any more!!
The next thing I’m working towards is taking my advanced 1 tap exam. It would be nice to actually complete them all!
My advice to anyone is to never give up and if you love something just go for it and do it, regardless of your age or size! After all they are just numbers! Just have fun 🙂 I love dancing and won’t be stopping again any time soon!
Love, Chloe xx