Today is International Dance Day, a day to celebrate the power and pleasure of dancing.
For as long as I can remember, dancing has been my escape, my entertainment and my education. I was fortunate to be taken to ballet classes as a toddler and was always the child that didn’t want to go home after the final curtsey. Ballet, tap, modern, jazz, contemporary… I lived for the next dancing opportunity while I was growing up and probably felt most alive when I was in class or on stage.
I still feel more at home in a dance studio than anywhere else. Whether I am taking class, practising by myself, or teaching, everything else is forgotten once I am at the barre or flying around the space. In fact, teaching helps me delight in dancing even more as it is all about sharing ideas, experiences and enjoyment with others in the hope that they will love to dance too!
“… we must always remember to dance a little every day.”
– Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company.
“Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?”
– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
On Wednesday 12th July 2017, I became a First Class Honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance.
The Royal Academy of Dance is one of the world’s most influential institutions for dance education and dance teacher training. Founded by an international group of dancers and dance teachers in 1920 to set standards for dance teaching in the United Kingdom, the organisation now operates in 85 countries. Its classical ballet syllabus is taught globally, with over 240,000 candidates taking Royal Academy of Dance ballet examinations each year. Beyond this, an ever-increasing programme of outreach work takes dance into diverse communities, while the Faculty of Education’s research develops knowledge which informs and inspires dance enthusiasts all over the world.
I have graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance’s BA (Hons) Dance Education programme. This varied programme not only equips graduates with the anatomical, musical and pedagogical knowledge and understanding to teach dance but also engages with philosophical, professional and practical issues in the fields of dance and dance education.
Dance is what inspires me in everything I do. Blissful serendipity meant I was given the opportunity to start ballet classes as a tiny tot and I will forever be grateful to the universe for that. Ultimately, I have become the person I am today because of my desire to always have dance in my life. Participating in dance classes, watching dance, writing about dance and teaching dance – dancing gives me purpose and makes me feel alive!
In fact, you might say that there is “ballet in my soul”. This nifty sentiment comes from an amazing woman named Eva Maze, who has titled her memoir With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario. An engrossing and educational read, I devoured the book in one afternoon and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in dance, theatre, history, travel or the pioneering achievements of extraordinary individuals.
Eva Maze (nee Feldstein) was born in Bucharest, Romania, on a summer day in 1922. Both her parents spoke Russian (her father was from Kiev and her mother was from Bessarabia) so Eva was bilingual in Russian and Romanian at an early age. Jewish by birth, she attended a Catholic school where the nuns taught the students in German and French and she was also tutored privately in English. She believes this early immersion in languages made her interested in the world outside Romania and later learned two additional languages – Spanish and Portuguese – which aided her in her career as an impresario (a theatrical tour manager or promoter). Without a doubt, Eva’s vibrant and fulfilling life will be envied by anyone with even a sprinkling of wanderlust as her personal and professional passions and endeavours have taken her all over the globe.
We are all stars but we must learn how to shine.
Each of us is an individual, blessed with different talents, qualities, experiences and perspectives. Significantly, this uniqueness means that each of us sparkles in our own way. Happily, I am increasingly able to recognise that, in life, we ought to trust in the idea that dancing to your own tune is the best way to make sure you do not lose yourself while trying to be who you think you should be.
Being me involves a love of both dancing and writing. These are closely followed by a fondness for reading and a desire to discover and disseminate knowledge. When we consider these attributes, my roles as a dance writer, dance student and dance teacher suddenly make a lot of sense!
Ballet Papier is a decorative arts brand created by a mother-daughter team in Barcelona. Together, artist Berenice and her dancing daughter Ambar dedicate their time and energy to creating beautiful products and sharing their love of ballet globally. In my work with the brand, I am honoured to combine my devotion to all things ballet with my writing. Excitingly, my words are now being featured in the brand’s notebooks – a development which started with the Ballet Étoiles collection.
May all your days be sparkly and bright
‘Tis the season once again! Christmas has been and gone and New Year’s Eve celebrations are taking centre stage at the moment as we all prepare to welcome in 2016.
Last year, Ballet Papier artist Berenice produced a fabulously festive gift for fans of her work – an enchanting short movie of The Nutcracker, starring a twinkle-toed troupe of paper ballerinas inspired by real balletomanes (including yours truly!) from all around the world. For Christmas 2015 she created a limited edition range of ceramic mugs and miniature notebooks featuring scenes from the film. I am honoured to be included in the selected artwork, depicted as the elegant Dew Drop Fairy. Happily, I am now the proud owner of one of “my” mugs – and the matching notebook.
As much as Christmas provides an excuse to indulge in special presents, perhaps the greatest gift it gives us is the reminder to reflect upon the past twelve months. Now is the time to be grateful for all of the good things we have experienced, achieved and received – all while looking forward to dancing into the future…