[Before you continue to read, as the title states, this is “my truth” aka my personal experience so I don’t expect every or maybe even any dancer to relate]
So basically long story short, I’m a dancer – generally in commercial and hip hop. I started dancing pretty much since I could stand on my own two feet (I literally have old home vids of me dancing to those melodies on a keyboard with my milk bottle just hanging from my mouth lol). Anyways, I’ve been in and out of training but actually started really training this year. It’s common for a lot of dancers to start as young as 2 years, especially in ballet but nope, not me. I started ballet January this year at the age of 19 (so almost 2 decades late) so that already indicates where I’m about to go with this lol.
If you’ve ever watched Dance Moms or anything similar, you’ve probably seen how dancers’ parents would spend thousands on their kids dance tuition … yeah not I. I had regular TV (watching movies like Honey and watching Top Of The Pops for them new Ciara releases haha) and then later on in life, YouTube (I have the patience to play, pause and rewind continuously haha). So yeah, most of my life, I’ve self-trained. After my A-level exams in 2014, I took a year out of education to just refuel, get experience working and to finally train using the money which I would earn. Now I started working October 2014 but only started training Jan 2015 because there’s a several qualities you need to have as a dancer … one being courage.
Without having any friends who would want to train continuously, I had to get the courage to actually go by myself. For starters, the ballet lessons were adult lessons. Legally, I’m an adult but I was literally training with people who were in their 30s. But I loved it in the end. It was literally the hardest thing physically and mentally to do but other than the results it builds up as a dancer, it really tested my patience and resilience. I like to do this thing where I just jump into the deep end so when I booked my ballet class, I didn’t do the free trial … I literally paid for 10 classes (which I regretted 20 mins into my 1st lesson lol) but within time my body started actually enjoying the challenge.
Now that part wasn’t too hard … it was going to an actual studio which is what I wanted to do the most and would require the most courage. Previously I would only manage to go to masterclasses like Yanis Marshall’s, Dave Scott’s etc. but actually going to regular class, I had never done. I started off by going to Kash Powell’s class at Studio 68 because I loved the choreography and the energy of the class and it was at a level that was hard for me but not impossible. Simultaneously, I signed up for Body Politics training programme which was a 3 hour training session every Sunday (back to the ‘jumping into the deep end’ point). This was so hard (I was literally so tired after the long warmups we did lol) but the atmosphere was really good and I got to discover choreographers I never knew about before so it’s something I’m hoping I can do again in the summer. As time went on I started exploring more classes, went to a several dance camps and have been improving mentally and physically.
To round up, here are 10 lessons I’ve learnt whilst training:
1. Studios are definitely intimidating.
2. The atmosphere of a class really does affect your attitude towards dance.
3. You don’t need to know how to do the splits to be amazing.
4. Not all trained dancers know how to really dance (freestyling) whilst actually feeling the music without including any tricks.
5. Don’t feel bad standing at the front, even if you’re messing up.
6. It doesn’t matter if you mess up because we all have different journeys and are at different stages.
7. Don’t take the levels too literal. A beginner can learn a lot in an advanced class.
8. Freestyling is important.
9. Though I don’t professionally dance, I CAN call myself a dancer because we all have different purposes as dancers.
10.The most uncomfortable classes will allow you to grow the most.
With that being said, my growth has been due to mainly two choreographers: Kash Powell and Leroy Curwood. Going to Kash’s classes has led me from caring so much about remembering the choreography, to actually really letting loose and catching my life. Because of his classes, I don’t care as much if I mess up, as long as I try. Now for Leroy: his classes are probably some of the most uncomfortable classes I’ve ever taken, and for that very reason, that’s why I go back. I used to aspire to be this sassy commercial dancer, but since doing Leroy’s class, it has been less about sharply hitting the beats but more about feeling the music with movement. And besides, he puts me onto very good music. So yeah, these two have contributed hugely towards my journey and I’m very grateful for that (:
I’ve rambled lol but yeah, that’s my journey and it’s definitely FAR from the end. For 2016, I want to put myself in more uncomfortable situations: one being to take popping classes and another being going to the WHES convention in Italy. So guys, hopefully in a year, I’ll be even better than I am now.