The music feels like a switch flicking on my body. Limbs move with ease to the rhythm, heart feels full with the mood of the melody and mind is clear of all thought.
Shoulders back, tummy in, toes pointed with practiced precision. Face and body expressing a story without words. I reach out with graceful movements to touch my audience. Their intent gaze, eyes filled with delight and tears of joy, is my prize. My gift to them. My love of dance, of my body moving as smoothly as a kite ribbon in the breeze.
That’s how I felt then, in my youth. In the days when Thursdays were all about ‘Top of the Pops’ and being allowed to stay up late to bob around the living room. Ballet and jazz classes filled the family diary. Weekends were a whirl of rehearsals for shows. I loved spending the day hanging out with my friends, going over our routines, singing, learning our lines and watching the other dancers from the wings. The hurried costume changes, make up and fancy hair. When I danced I was truly in the moment; intoxicated with the melodies and changing rhythms – my body connected to the sound by an invisible chord.
Backstage, age 10…
I felt I was born with a love of dancing in my genes.
My Grandfather was a wonderful dancer. Grandma would talk of Grandad dancing late into the night on the cruises they went on in their retirement years. She would head off to bed, leaving him to waltz on.
My Nana too loved dancing and would always be full of encouragement. I vividly recall her face in the audience, watching one of the shows I danced in. She had seven children and many grandchildren. She was always doing the visiting rounds and I thought it was a privilege to have the opportunity to dance for her. She was a whizz with the sewing machine and I remember her making so many dresses for us. I’ll never forget the last time I saw her – I was only a teenager and I knew we were visiting her to say good-bye, at least in this lifetime. She had a bruise on her head and when I asked her how she’d got it she simply replied, with a smile that must have taken great strength, ‘Wrong dancing shoes.’
Music has a power to move everyone in different ways; like the power of a scent to bring memories flooding back.
Now, as I watch my own children discover a love of dance and music, I am filled with great happiness. Occasionally I pine to be back on the wooden dance floor myself, instead of sat on the bench watching – my feet have trouble staying still and are forever tapping throughout their performances 🙂
At home, of course, I leap and spin. They look at me with smiles of bemused happiness, ‘Wow! Mum can dance!’
They are more used to seeing me at work in the kitchen or with a cleaning cloth in hand, or hearing me say, ‘I’ll be there in a minute – just got to put a wash on…”
On a rainy day music and dance lifts us from the grey gloomy sky through the window. Even baby Alice loves to dance. I spin around with her in my arms to the beat and she squeals with delight.
I like to think my dear Grandparents are smiling at all this and tapping along, as a love of dance continues in their Great-granddaughters.