I started working for the Barbican Theatre as a dance practitioner over 20 years ago.
It is a privilege having a job that involves working with people. My work enables me to work with a diverse range of community groups and individuals, professional artists and companies. I work with all ages, from as young as 3 years up to 103 years; dance is an inclusive art form and I strongly believe it should be accessible to every young person within our education system. Dance activity supports young people’s social and physical development; it is a non-verbal way to communicate, express ideas and process emotions. Through participation dance can develop self-esteem, confidence, broaden an individual’s perceptions and encourage aspiration. Dance is about freedom to express, community, respect, culture, celebration and health.
I found dance, luckily, at the age of 11, through attending a local disco dancing class that my best friend had been attending. I was immediately hooked. It felt right; I remember it making me feel so energized and confident on the inside. Up to then I had had a really tough time at school through being dyslexic. At both my primary and secondary schools I had no support, but instead was continually humiliated by teachers and pupils alike. I was made to feel stupid on a daily basis; I know what it is like to feel excluded. Dance made me feel good about myself and I felt part of something. Very quickly my evenings and weekends were filled with dance classes of all styles; I just couldn’t get enough of it.
When I was 14, by chance I witnessed a contemporary dance rehearsal in the living room of big house my sister was living in at the time in St.Germans, Cornwall. Two professional dancers were rehearsing a duet they were about to perform at the Elephant Fayre Festival. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I really want to be able to do that’. Although the dancers weren’t talking, the choreography spoke volumes to me; it really moved me. I remember there and then deciding I wanted to train as a professional dancer.
I know that if I had not found dance I would have failed at school; my ambition to train professionally enabled me to work hard at school. I knew if I wanted to go to a top dance training vocational school I needed good exam results.
I graduated from London Studio Centre in 1989, and throughout my professional career I continue to learn and grow as a dance practitioner, choreographer and performer. I learn as much from a 9 year old participant as I do from a professional artist I work with.
My part-time work for the Barbican Theatre has been integral to my career path. My freelance work as a dance artist includes work with: Plymouth Dance, Dance In Devon, Plymouth University (Associate Lecturer), University of St Mark & St John, Eden Project (Dance Film commission with Artist Bill Wroath), Swindon Dance (Film and live performance choreographer with film maker Peter Anderson), Youth Dance England (Commission: Mass Dance Choreographer for U Dance 2015). I also teach ‘Vinyasa Flow’ Yoga at the Yoga Loft in Plymouth.