Kari yesterday asked me what style of dance I do and I realised that while I have mentioned how much I love dance I haven't really talked much about what kind of dance I do.
When I was a little girl I did ballet classes, followed by jazz ballet for a time. But I was always too tall, too gawky and the enthusiasm I had was never really encouraged by the teachers who knew with my physical size I was never going to be a professional dancer. I think it is so sad that they wouldn't encourage such enthusiasm. Sure I was never going to be a ballerina, but if someone loves something you should always encourage them.
So from the age of about 8 or 9 I didn't dance. In high school there were dance opportunities in things like Rock Eisteddfod, but I had built up a whole host of myths in my head about dance (see below) that meant I never gave it a go.
In 2003 (I think) I went to a Christmas party where the hostess prompted a conversation by saying to someone he should tell us about his dancing. He told us about Ceroc (modern jive) and in doing so blew all the myths that I had built up in my head out of the water. At that point in my life the majority of my friends had moved away, I was unfit, had a minimal social life and I needed a new direction. The next February I dragged two of my girlfriends along to a class and fell in love. I came home that first night and sat on my Mum's bed beaming. My words to her were "I think I could be good at this".
A few years later, after much dancing and hard work I was asked to come on staff. I've moved from a demonstrator, to a junior instructor, to a senior instructor. It would be fantastic to go back in time and tell those snobby ballet instructors that these days I'm a dance teacher!
My interest in dance has grown and grown. Over the years I've tried out a multitude of styles. As well as teaching Ceroc, I do lessons in and dance argentine tango, salsa and rumba on a regular basis. I know the basics of zouk lambada, waltz and cha cha. I even did a fantastic term of burlesque dancing that was probably the hardest class I've ever done with one of the most inspirational teachers ever.
Dance has quite literally changed my life. I'm fitter and healthier than ever. I have the most remarkably wonderful, quirky, brilliant and supportive group of friends. I've developed body confidence and much better posture. It has given me a hobby that I love and that brings me joy every time I do it. And, most importantly, it was through dance that I met S.
So as I said earlier, I had built up a list of myths about dance in my head that prevented me trying it out for years. So that no one else has them, here is my list of Myths of Dance.
Myth 1 : You have to go with a partner - I have no idea where I formed this impression but I can categorically say it is not true and the vast majority of people do not come to dance classes with a partner. If anything coming with a partner can hamper you because if you only dance with them, you don't learn from all the other people, so if you do come with someone, make sure you still dance with as many different people as you can.
Myth 2 : Dance classes are really expensive - the average classes I've seen cost somewhere between $15 - $20. Ok, this isn't cheap, but it also isn't a huge cost, most of us can find $15 or $20 a week for an activity. These days I do private classes which are $60, now that is getting expensive but they let me learn all the styles I want to and I learn at a much faster pace than in group classes because I've been dancing for so long. For me I find that valuable, but I had my first private class 7 years after I started learning, so if you are starting out group classes are all you need.
Myth 3 : You have to be really coordinated and graceful - ha! If that was true there is no way I would be dancing. I was someone who can fall over her own feet. It took time to get my balance etc but these days I do cut a reasonably graceful figure on the dance floor. And I still fall over my own feet.
Myth 4 : Dance isn't real exercise - I always love it when they have athletes on "Dancing with the Stars" and they say how fit they have got. A few years ago the ceroc teachers did an exercise where they wore pedometers in class and they managed to do the entire day's recommended steps in a single dance class. It is hard work, I've never been as fit as I am now, and the only difference in my life is dance.
Myth 5 : Only cool people know how to dance - yup, I was convinced you had to be in the in crowd to know how to dance. Learning to dance is cool, but we all have to learn. I've seen people from 18-80 in classes. Those who dress fashionably, those who really, really don't. And then comes the day when you decide it is more comfortable to wear socks under your dance shoes because what you are wearing, how your hair is done etc doesn't matter - you are just there to dance. That said personal hygiene is really, really important!
Is there any activity that you have put off only to later discover you love? And do you have any questions about dance, feel free to ask away.