Dancing was only ever meant to be a hobby for me

November 25, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Dancing was only ever meant to be a hobby for me

My first memory of falling in love with dance was watching old movie musicals with my mum and grandma. I have danced since the age of 5, Ballet, Tap and Jazz, but it was watching those old movies and also attending the theatre that made me fall in love with dance. I remember watching the ballet scene in Oklahoma and the main scene in Singing in the rain and thinking that’s what I want to do.

Dancing was only ever meant to be a hobby for me. My parents didn’t want me to do it as a career, they wanted me to get “a normal job”. So originally I went to college and did my A levels, I took dance as a subject but also English Literature and Business studies too. My plan was to either own my own dance school or go into a job of administration of some sort. But I realised I loved dancing more than just as a hobby. So I applied for dance at De Montford University in Leicester but found it was very contemporary based and I had been trained in classical all my life. So I also applied for quite a few dance colleges. The problem was they were too expensive and I wasn’t talented enough to gain a scholarship. One I did get accepted for didn’t have any funding available so sadly I had to turn it down.
After that, I decided to have a gap year to think about what I wanted. I had changed dance schools during my a-levels and my new teacher took me on as her assistant. During this gap year, I had become content with teaching dance and the world of running a dance school. I think I may have stayed there had something not shaken me up. I then auditioned for Expressions Performing Arts. I got in with a quarter scholarship. Luckily I had also been working at KFC so I could afford to pay my fees. I trained there for three years on a Musical Theatre Diploma which was heavily dance-based (luckily for me). I absolutely loved every minute of training and this is where I first studied commercial dance and fell in love with it. My plan after graduation was to audition for cruises and once in with a cruise company, work my way up to eventually becoming a choreographer. This however hasn’t gone to plan, but I have had many wonderful experiences in the five years since I graduated.

Dance PhotographyDance PhotographyA session usually lasts around 1.5 hours, which is usually plenty of time to get what you need out of your session. Your photos will be uploaded to a private gallery where you can select the best photos from your shoot, I will fully enhance your chosen photos in both color and black and white, re-touching where necessary.

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When I am dancing I feel truly content. That may seem like a really bland word but when I am not dancing I always feel my soul is restless. So once I’m dancing it is as though my soul is as one with my body. I’m carried away by the rhythm of the music and the steps of the dance.

When I am learning a new show or dance, every night after rehearsals before I go to sleep, I like to lie in bed with my eyes closed and run through the show in my head. I usually fall asleep on the second run through but I always wake up feeling confident I know the steps. On the day of a performance, I always have a warm-up and stretch to make sure my body is ready to move and my one rule is never to think about the choreography. That may sound silly but in the past, I have gone over a few choreography seconds before going on stage and then second-guessed myself. Now I have confidence that I know the steps so I don’t let myself think about it beforehand, after all, if you don’t know it by then, you haven’t got time to learn it!

I would say my dance major is Commercial Jazz but I have a huge love for Tap dance (as old school as it is). I am not a very technical dancer, I don’t have long legs up by my ears and my height for jumps is rubbish! But I am a very good performer, I always use my face when dancing and commercial dance is my strongest style. I am, however, reasonably flexible.

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Since graduating I have done a variety of work. I first went to Cyprus for a winter contract which involved doing shows in various hotels around the island. Then when I came back I worked for Warner Leisure Hotels. Here I did some amazing shows! I had so many favourites here as I ended up working for them for three years. We did a show called Knights & Dames, the second half was all James Bond songs and we were dressed in shorts and a suit jacket and one number we had golden guns. I loved it because it was so sassy and sexy. I never got bored with that show. Another favourite of mine was the Blues Brothers Show which I had to sing & dance in but was so good for my stamina. We also did a Buble show which I got to do a tap dance in! I don’t think there was a show I didn’t like! After Warner’s I went to Italy to dance in a circus, my favourite part of that was when the couple did their snake act, we got to dance upon the ring while these snakes slithered on the floor below us. It was scary but fun!

When I got back I began working for Reyonce - a tribute to Beyoncé. This has been one of my all-time favourite jobs! Vicky who plays reyonce is amazing and was so lovely to work for. Her show was insane and all commercial dance so I was in my element. I would love to be a backing dancer for a music artist and dancing behind Vicky gave me such a buzz!

Dance PhotographyDance PhotographyA session usually lasts around 1.5 hours, which is usually plenty of time to get what you need out of your session. Your photos will be uploaded to a private gallery where you can select the best photos from your shoot, I will fully enhance your chosen photos in both color and black and white, re-touching where necessary.

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Recently I have also had the opportunity to choreograph my own shows, the choreography is something I would love to end up doing full time. Before I left Warner’s I choreographed two shows, an MJ show and a Queen show. I was so proud of both and the team I taught loved it. I then went to work for Sibiu Holiday Villages in France where I was choreographer and dance Captain so I got to create and perform my own shows. This was an amazing experience.

My favourite location that I have ever performed was actually during my time at Expressions when we performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was so beautiful and huge and I can honestly say I will never forget performing there.

When I’m between contracts I try to attend classes or do my own workouts/stretches to keep my body in shape and also keep my picking up skills strong. During the last lockdown and this one, I’ve been lucky enough to do some online classes. I have auditioned for Mirage (entertainment for cruises) a few times so it has been the best thing to join their choreographer for online classes.

What type of dance do you do?

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What tips would I give anyone wanting to get into professional dance? Hmm... I would say keep your mind open. You may leave training wanting one thing, but the industry is unpredictable and there are a lot of us all competing for the same thing. You have to take all opportunities.
All experience is a good experience. I have had a few bad experiences but looking back they were good because I learnt from them.

A huge tip is never to be afraid to speak up. I’m not going to say every contract is amazing, there are bad jobs out there (I’ve had a few), but you know your own worth so don’t stand for poor living conditions or low pay.
Do your research! Check the company online or on the hustle. See if anyone has posted about it. You don’t want to arrive in another country and find the job is not what you signed up for.

But most of all, enjoy every moment! You will make so many friends and memories from this career. It’s a small world but even smaller in this industry.

If I could change one thing about what I have done in my career it would be to have not needed an operation during my first year at Warner’s. It set my career plan back by a year. Obviously, this was out of my control but if I could change it I would so that I could’ve started auditioning again sooner. I wouldn’t change any of the jobs I’ve done good or bad because of the friends I have made along the way.


 
I want to thank Jessica for taking the time to write the guest blog for me. It's just super to hear about someone passion and love for dance. I think like anyone starting in career there is all going to be challenges that you need to overcome. But listen to your heart and make sure if your gut is telling you something follow that too as those are best to things to help you judge the situation. If you want to follow Jessica you can do so at Instagram 
 

 


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