One of the reasons I will be most sad to leave London for a little while is (rather surprisingly to me) dance. I never went to dance class as a kid, I didn’t do the whole ballet and tap classes thing a lot of kids do. This was not necessarily because I didn’t want to, it just never really happened. As I grew up music was something that was massive to me, but oddly dance wasn’t so much. I mean, sure I watched pop vidoes, I tried to mimic routines (who hasn’t tried a Steps dance routine every now and then?!) but I never took it seriously enough to actually go to a class. And when you get past a certain age it gets so intimidating. If you know you can’t dance and other people can, seriously it’s HARD to get yourself down to a dance studio!
So what’s changed for me? Well last year I got fed up of just going to the gym, fitness wise I had hit a rut. It was all getting boring. I’m an active person and I was not enjoying my routine at all, so when my friend Jen suggested we try a dance class at FRAME in Shoreditch that kind of changed everything for me. I started by going to some of the more fitness-based classes because I didn’t have the confidence to just walk right into a dance class. That wasn’t going to happen! Thing was though, some of the fitness classes were just after a dance class so you could see the dance classes happening and they so looked fun. One day I saw people strutting their stuff to a Christina Aguilera tune and that was it, I was sold.
I started going to a mixture of dance classes with different themes; commercial hip hop, class MTV video, diva, street jazz. I wont lie it was very hard at first. I felt like I had to completely re-programme my brain to try and gain some form of coordination! Plus it felt like everyone else knew what they were doing. There are always going to be people in a class who are better simply because they’ve been doing it for longer. It took a LONG time to build up my confidence and to think ‘I’m getting it’. The biggest breakthrough for me was when I actually made friends with other people going to the classes. When I first went to class I was watching them from afar and feeling intimidated but once I got to know some of the other people in the class I was encouraged by them to go the extra mile, to dance harder and most importantly to be myself. You don’t often make friends who always build you up, always encourage you to try harder and who can laugh at themselves. They’re a pretty special bunch – massive shout-out to Anna, Cass, Emily, Melissa, Cheryl, Lex, Sara, Beth, Angie and Verena!
Another important factor has been the dance teachers I’ve been lucky enough to learn from. They’ve not been intimidating at all, they’ve been encouraging, inspiring and most of all fun. They’ve helped me to recreate and re-imagine myself a thousand times, and build up the confidence to actually be me. Probably most influential of the teachers for me has been Elliot, who has taught me the importance of believing in yourself and at the end of the day just having fun in a dance studio. One of the teachers Bonnie Parsons, who can show you how to ‘whip your hair back and forth’ like no other, has actually started her own company Seen on Screen, where people have the opportunity to learn from dancers who have actually danced with superstars, we’re talking Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Jessie J etc. At first I really thought that would be out of my league dance-wise but it wasn’t at all. I’ve done a Janet Jackson and Beyonce Seen on Screen class and I swear each time I’ve come out of them feeling like a pop star. Which for me is pretty cool.
Check out Seen on Screen’s promo vid below (actually has brief glimpses of me dancing in it – don’t be put off by that – ha!)
I guess what I’m trying to say by giving you all my history of dance(!) is that there is nothing you can’t try. There is nothing you are too old to start doing. Take a leap of faith, do the scary thing, because you never know – you might make an idiot out of yourself, you might have some of the best fun of your life and you might meet the some of the best friends you’ll ever know. You might even end up dancing to Thriller on Halloween dressed as a zombie. And surely that’s worth taking a risk?