When I first donned a pair of jazz shoes when I was about three years old, the thought of being a competitive dancer hadn’t even crossed my mind. Likewise I’m sure Jessica Ennis lacing up a pair of trainers at age 5 gave her the idea of one day being an Olympic champion.
Years of performing mini shows for my family and friends turned into bigger performances and larger audiences and over the years the more seriously I began to take dancing as a sport. Growing up I was always asked what sports I did in school and when my reply was dance they merely replied with “No, what sports do you play?”
But dance was my sport! Spending hours perfecting a routine, listening to the same music over and over and over again. Finding yourself randomly breaking out into a dance move in the most inconvenient of places and waking up in the middle of the night singing that track you’ve spent half the day practicing too!
But despite being an art form dance is a sport! It takes endurance, strength, flexibility and years of learning a technique then adapting them into hundreds of different routines. And not only that there is a unique etiquette to dance that is like no other. Different styles require different steps. Whilst ballet demands poise and on the tippiest of toes, break dancing likes you to be more accompanied with the floor and move like a rag doll.
Competing in dance is the same as competing in any other sport! And I may prove unpopular with this but I read somewhere before that dancers are actually fitter than footballers because of their ability to compete at a higher intensity for longer.
Not to mention the guts it takes to get on that stage and dance in front of an audience! And that’s without a few shots of tequila to get you onto that floor.
I owe so much to dancing that it kills me I ever stopped. I never really appreciated how well I did or how much I achieved until years after. I was always seen as the “Underdog” compared to everyone else I was in school with. They all played rugby, football, netball, athletics, you know all the sports that you can represent the school with. And a part of me always felt laughed at. I didn’t care I was going to do it anyway, but the remarks and jeers I got. I remember having to leave school an hour early before to go to the hospital for a badly bruised bone in my foot only for to be met with a disapproving face off my teacher and a “I should be doing more useful things with my time” remark.
But now five years have passed since I hung up my sneaks. And only now am I fully appreciating what I achieved. I’m not being big-headed or anything but I represented my country twice on the World stage! Travelled to Germany to compete and lined up against countries from around the World. Me…a little 14 year old girl from South Wales! Why shouldn’t I be proud!
I danced my heart out in solos, duos, group dances all over the country for medals just for the chance to perform! Travelling the length and breadth of the UK throughout the night, sleeping on buses, warming up in crammed stairways all for the pure love of the sport.
When people I meet today want to know about my past and I tell them they seem so overwhelmed and I only wish that I could’ve seen it at the time!
Damn 14 year old me i’m proud of you! You blindsided every bit of negativity that was thrown your way and danced because you loved it! You didn’t care getting up on your own in front of 500 people who laughed at what you did because you could dance circles round them any day!
You gave the older you the best flexibility and strength a girl of 5ft should not genetically possess and given me the stories to tell my future children of how I once danced in front of Simon Cowell. You travelled to places that you’d never imagined and met beautiful people whilst gaining new friends. Thank you.
You proved them wrong! I thank you younger me for having that fight, and I am truly sorry that I am now starving your of your passion for dance. I will find a way to give it back to you and lace up those shoes once more! After all that confident, competitive little freak of a dancer ….is me!