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  • Writer's pictureIndiaLily

Giving up on the ballerina dream and falling back in love with dance

Like a lot of little girls I went to ballet classes from the age of three. Pink everywhere, tiny ballet shoes, and hair clips - that was me.

However, unlike lots of little girls, I carried on dancing because I absolutely loved it. Many dropped off when they got old enough to choose to do what they wanted to do. The older I got, the smaller the classes would get and just be filled with people who really enjoyed it and wanted to be there.

I did tap classes too but I was obsessed with ballet. I went to ballets with my mum and grandma, but as soon as I saw Billy Elliot I knew that's what I wanted to do. Although my aims my have changed now that I'm 25 and (SHOCK) not a ballerina, Billy Elliot is still one of my favourite shows and one I could see over and over again very happily.

(Right: A duet I did at uni)

All getting serious

When I got to around 13-14 it all got a bit more serious. I got selected for tap scholarships for the British Association of Dance which was essentially where they got the top 60 people for each age category based on dance exam results. That was pretty cool, but I didn't want to be a tap dancer, I wanted to be a ballerina.

I went to a couple of ballet school auditions around this time too. These experiences teamed with going to a dance convention called Move It (I'll explain that in a minute) started to cast doubt on the dance dream for me.

Move It is the biggest dance festival in the UK. Held over three days in London, it sees all the top schools showing off what they can do, there's classes in every style of dance you can imagine, and stalls to buy all the latest dance gear. I was lucky enough to go on a few occasions with my dance school. We'd all get on the train and head down to London for a very exiciting, but very exhausting, weekend of dance.

Going to Move It was amazing. I loved the classes, got to see a close-up interview with Darcy Bussell (above), and saw lots of performances from talented people. It also made me realise I was not going to be a ballerina for a number of reasons.

The dance lifestyle was not for me. I need a plan and stability, and anything in the performing arts just doesn't really have that, so does not suit my personality at all. I'm a control freak and dance doesn't go with that. You're constantly auditioning and changing jobs, and I just can't deal with that.

The bitchiness I came across in auditions was something I hated too. I'm not saying all dancers are bitchy at all, but there's a vibe I didn't like about it. And don't sound too surprised but...I wasn't good enough. My height definitely didn't help either. How many 5'11 female ballerinas have you seen?

I have huge respect for people that pursue their dreams in the performing arts because it's extremely tough and a lifestyle I just don't fit with. I need to have a bit of a five-year plan and performing arts are just so unpredictable - I'm not spontaneous enough for that.

To check out my interview with an actress go here.

(Left: Uni comps were a real highlight for me)

Just a hobby

Once I'd accepted dance was always just going to be a hobby for me I started to enjoy it more again because it was my downtime from school and exams. I helped teach younger students, focussed on the style I was MUCH better at - tap.

I continued dancing through uni which I talk about here. This involved training and competitions and I'm so glad I did it. I got to meet lots of other people just like me - they'd continued with dance to a good level, but it was just a hobby at this point.

(Right: I worked up to Vice President of the dance society at uni)

A personal highlight at uni was choreogrpahing and performing a tap duet to a song from The Greatest Showman

which won us multiple awards at comps.

Now I'm still dancing in Eastbourne. I managed to find an advanced tap class for adults and it's PERFECT. So challenging but such a fun hour of my week. Often classes for adults are aimed at beginners so to find people like me is so refreshing. I hope wherever I go I find advanced tap classes because it's my absolute favourite.

I went to Move It this year for the first time in years and I loved it. I went on my own for the Friday and filled the day with advanced tap classes. I was reminded of the intimidating aspect to Move It and the dance industry in general, but had a really good time despite this. The classes were so tough but it was amazing to be back. I was also asked by a few people who I was auditioning for as many schools hold auditions at Move It for students to attend - they thought I was 18?! That was a big ego boost. I felt in the minority of people that were just there for fun that have an unrelated career, but once you learn to ignore the dancers trying to out do one another, you have the best time.

As Bruce Forsyth used to say - keep dancing! And I will.


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