Feb Photo Challenge 27 – Lets Dance

Daily Prompt: Let’s Dance

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Daily Prompt

After reading today’s daily prompt, I just had to join in today. The question they ask is,
What are your earliest and fondest memories of dance?

As a few of you know, but if you don’t dance has been the main factor in my life. It consumed my childhood and I’m still dancing now. So for the last 42 years I have been dancing.

The question above I think is in two parts, first the earliest memory, which for me was at the age of two and a half. That was my first stage appearance. I was performing in a pantomime, Jack and The Beanstalk, and I was the mini jack who popped out of a pie that jack had been put in and he had shrunk, so my part was to hide in the pie side stage, then the giant pie got wheeled onto stage and out I popped. I did a twirl and a curtesy and then ran off stage being chased by widow Twankie. I remember this in so much detail. So that is my earliest dance and stage performance.

Now fondest will be harder to answer, baring in mind I was going to ballet from the age of two, dancing classes every night whilst at primary age, then off to ballet school at the age of eleven, then off to performing arts college at sixteen, then becoming a performer, then a dance teacher and still a dance teacher till this day. So as you can imagine in the last forty years I have done hundreds of performances, exams and classes, in all sorts of different places, in fields, in theatres, in residential homes, in studios, in village halls, in schools, on floats to name but a few. So to choose the fondest is very difficult.

But then if you look at the question, it says the fondest memory ‘of’ dance, so my fondest memory, that sticks with me, is when I was a child, I don’t know what age, I was taken to see the ballet Swan Lake at the big top. I remember the emotion I felt as I was watching the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was mesmerized, glued to the ballerinas, watching their feet, their extended legs, the mens high jumps and the music just swept me away. Still now when I watch it I could cry all the way through because it is so beautiful, in fact there is a lump in my throat now just typing this. It’s amazing how something can touch you like that, and for someone else they feel nothing.

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Who was she?

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Who is this little girl? I don’t recognise her, but I do remember.

Wow, what a sorting day we ended up having. You know if we had planned to do this job it would never had got it done, but we just started by looking for the old video player up in the attic and ended up having a major sort out, the first in the 12 years of being in this house! So as you can imagine we found all sorts of things!

I found all my baby pictures and growing up pictures that my witch of a mother gave to me, probably because she couldn’t be bothered with them any more! That’s the kinda kind and sensitive person she is! And it brings up all kind of different feelings. They say that photos tells no lies, but that is rubbish, that smile you see up there is hiding so much, in fact. I was a very smiley child, always cheerful, but the reality of it was I just learnt to become a good actress, the smile hiding everything, trying to please everyone.

The smile that hid the living in dirt and squaller,
the smile hiding emotional neglect,
the smile hiding hunger,
the smile hiding chaos,
the smile hiding unwanted attention,
but the smile hiding not being noticed,
even though that little girl you see had all the material things she could ever desire, it was all empty love.

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I look like a boy in this don’t I, nice and 70s. So after sorting out the attic we thought we may as well sort out ‘that’ photo draw, you know the one, the one that you have been shoving photos in for years! Well there were pictures from past holidays and the boys growing up, school pictures etc, bloody hell where did all that time go, yesterday they looked like this…

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And now all grown up and the eldest left home.

The thing that entertained my very bright A* child of mine was reading through my old school reports. I think he was surprised how stupid I was then. But he hasn’t got a clue what I had to contend with, all my effort and brain power was about getting through and coping! I left primary school not being able to read or write.

Here are the encouraging words my teachers had to say about me! This is from secondary school.

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Rather weak!… thanks! You certainly knew how to build a child’s confidence!

As you can tell they really thought a lot of me. What they didn’t know then was I wasn’t emotionally ready for learning. My god if we said things like that in school reports now the parents would have a field day! Not that I would want to mind!

All I can say I haven’t done bad for myself, have I, considering!

Easter Day!

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I was just having a little think about how Easter day have changed for me over my life time. As a child Easter time was one the busiest times of the year for me and the family. The week running up to Easter day or the week after was taken up with dance festivals. I competed in hundreds of dances throughout the week in the chase for that allusive medal or certificate. I used to really love that week, it was the highlight of my year. learning dances after dances, solos, groups, duets, trios, ballet, tap, modern, national, song and dances, jazz, free style, the lot, I did them all. I never won anything, but that never bothered me I just loved the whole process of it. It is funny now I cannot stand the whole process of them, now I am on the other side, a teacher and a watcher, and have nothing to do with them. When I was teaching for dance schools I hated teaching dances for the festival and ended up stopping. The whole back stabbing of children and pushy mothers, completive teachers, I did not see any of that as a child, I think I must have walked around in blinkers the whole time.

So that was the first busy part to Easter, the second was the big brass band completion at butlins. The whole family, and I had a big family, played in the local brass band, which my folks had founded. On Easter day we had a coach trip to a 50 style holiday camp, (hi-de-hi), and I would spend my Easter day sitting in silence listening to endless bands. Some years the journey back on the coach was loud, rowdy and fun because the band had won and done well, and some journeys were quiet and solemn because the band might have come last, but this event happened every Easter day as child.

Very different to now, fast forward thirty years or so and here I am sitting on the sofa in peace and quiet, lap top on lap, children grown up and both at work, no dancing, no competition, no brass bands, no ‘happy Easter’ because I am an atheist, no Sunday dinners because I don’t do them and no chocolate eggs (don’t panic and feel sorry for me, I hate chocolate and I never give the kids chocolate and again don’t feel sorry for them, it’s their choice they would rather have money!) and it is great!

Always hungry….

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This is another snippet of my weird and wonderful life. How my strained relationship with food started. This is carrying on the ‘St Trinians with a slash of Hogwarts’ page, so if you want to read the beginning part click on there! xx

In all the million of things that were on the list to pack for this place, I remember the first and simplest thing that had been forgotten was a school bag. So for the first 2 weeks or so I went around with my new books, pens, pencils etc in a carrier bag. I was so embarrassed. It’s amazing how the simplest things, to us as adults don’t seem a big deal but to children are huge. I always think of that feeling when I am dealing with children at school now and how the smallest thing can really upset them and that I am to take that seriously.

So my daily routine consisted of, a fire alarm screaming to wake us up at about 7, we had to be out of bed instantly or we would get screeched at by the purple dragon, (matron) take wash bag with us to bathroom, wash etc, dress for breakfast. Queue for breakfast….now food, well that’s a subject all of its own, me and my relationship with food. We go back a long way. Starting with the lack of it when I was a child, having to fight over food with five other grown men at the table, like hyenas at a kill, I was definitely on the bottom of that food chain, to the point where, I was so hungry that I ate the dog biscuits and cow cake on the farm just to ease my hunger pains. So that wasn’t a good start in the old food relationship and now I was in a situation where I was in a ballet school, we were weighed and measured every Saturday to make sure we were not putting on to much weight compared to our growth. I was always growing too tall for their liking and I was classed as over weight in their eyes. I was told weekly for five years that I was fat, you do begin to believe it. We were all on strict diets, our food intake was monitored, we were never allowed any sweets of any kind, so here I was again, hungry, I was a girl growing, changes in the body etc and I was starved, we all were. Food was our main subject at any part of the day, I think if this happened now the school would be shut down. I always remembered meeting up with a old nurse from the school, one of the nice ones, at a big reunion in London Covent Garden years after leaving and she said to me, she was always worried about us girls, she said we were starved and that she wanted to report the school, then she conveniently lost her job. It was quite comforting to hear someone say that, that it was noticed and wasn’t all in our heads.