My son and daughter have coaxed, coached and encouraged me to share my journey...so here it is!
In my youth, I participated in whatever rhythmic sport was available in the town that my family lived in at the time (we moved a lot). But I did get to do ballet, tap, flamenco and gymnastics. I achieved well, especially in gymnastics. I enjoyed being daring and never hesitated to try something new.
I had ambitions of becoming a trapeze artist, but that was not to be. At the age 14 I approached a circus master and begged him to let me join them. Without an invitation, I proceeded to perform a dance routine with a lot of cartwheels and somersaults aimed to convince him. He was impressed but explained that my running away with the circus would be tantamount to kidnapping - so better I run off home!
So when I left school, I got a job as a go-go dancer instead. Op-Art, mini skirts, discos and go-go dancing. Yes! We talking end of the sixties here! We were a group of girls dancing on raised platforms on the Disco floor while coloured and strobe lights flashed on and off to the sounds of “Build me up Buttercup”. Let me tell you, it was quite a workout. We wore little-fringed skirts and sailor tops and I thought we were rather cute! My mother came to watch sometimes - although the lights drove her mad. The manager was quite nervous when my mom was around and went out of his way to impress her and assure her of my safety. After a year of this crazy disco trend and working in an office (typing envelopes!) during the day I had saved enough to leave the Durban shores and sailed off to London.
My intention was to meet up with flower people and travel around Europe in an old bus. But I first needed to earn some money. My first job was waiting tables at a pub in Lancashire from where I had a rather harrowing experience with the very lecherous manager. I escaped through my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning, caught a bus to London and landed at Victoria Station with no idea of my next move.
There I quite literally bumped into a couple in a hurry; they saw my despair and immediately reacted with concern. Both guys were sensitive, kind and funny, and we became instant friends. Their flat in Earls Court would become my home for the rest of my time in England. We spent our days working temporary jobs like factory packing, cleaning windows and waiting tables. Lots of stories there! My friends got lucky when they landed jobs working in a food-canning factory - it meant that we always had food. Of course, we didn’t know the contents because the tins had no labels. I always hoped for rice pudding but more often than not it was carrots!
By night, our life took a different turn. Just before midnight we would head out to the Motown discos; Tamla-Town was one of my favourites. We danced to the best: Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Jacksons, The Temptations and, of course, the great “Mama told me not to come” by Three Dog Night! A cult classic! If there had been wooden floors they would have been sawdust by dawn! We all danced on our own - together. I have never hesitated to dance when the music enticed me - whether I had a partner or not. There's a story right there, it's my life story: a partner is nice but not a necessity.
My passion for travelling around in a bus disappeared completely when I read about an audition for a dance teachers' programme. After two years, I qualified and went on to teach and perform in London and then back in South Africa.
Part of the dance (and life) is being open to new ideas, new interpretations and feelings. Throughout my life I have continued learning and training with many fascinating masters and mistresses of various dance forms.
I have performed in television shows, commercials, on stage and in clubs. I loved the sheer thrill of the performance. When I was in my thirties, show dance was especially good. I danced with a wonderful dancer and friend for more than eight years. The partnership and performances brought me much joy - and success.
At fifty-six I danced in my last show. It was a Tango show called “El Beso”, which I also choreographed. It had a wonderful run at the Little Theatre in Cape Town. My son was the director for “El Beso” and my daughter was the lead dancer. Does it get any better than that? Never was there a more perfect time to hang up my show dance shoes!
Teaching is also very close to my heart - it is my most accomplished skill. I liken it to being a mom: guiding, teasing and encouraging students to explore and develop their inner dancer, watching and enjoying their growth as the creativity comes shining through. I realised early on that my skill impacts people in a positive way. I care, I empathise, I enthuse. I organise, manage and motivate. I appreciate and value my skill and what it can achieve. I get a kick out of my students' progress and their sheer enjoyment of the dance. I am also moved and deeply touched when a student tells me that my classes and energy have helped them from a dark place into the light.
That's me! I stand for sharing, caring, joy, perseverance and growth. I promise to keep it real and talk from the heart.