I started ballet lessons at the age of two and quickly fell in love with the sport. By eight I decided to delve into the world of pre-professional training which involved up to seven hours of dancing on a daily basis. My path was headed towards that of a professional dancer so you can imagine my heartache when aged 14, it was all taken away.
I spent the first few years of my chronic conditions extremely unwell, often bed bound and unable to walk. It wasn’t until 2014, eight years into my health ‘journey’, where I was finally able to bring dance back into my life. A local dance studio was opening and kindly offered to take me on as a student teacher.
I’ll be totally honest, it was incredibly hard. I had to bring my wheelchair in if I couldn’t get parked directly at the door entrance and I spent the majority of the class sitting down. I struggled with teaching the younger children as they moved a lot faster than I could. I was often in bed for the whole week recovering from an hour lesson. But, I loved it! After nearly a year’s hard work I sat my teaching exam, with allowances for my health, and passed with 97%.
Unfortunately, I had a relapse and had to make the incredibly hard decision to part ways with the dancing school as I couldn’t commit to the required hours due to my health. Instead, I started teaching for a shorter amount of time closer to home and since then I’ve been working with local schools on their ballet syllabus.
It’s incredibly hard to get your ‘foot in the door’ as a disabled teacher so I feel lucky that I can still do what I love. I adapt the way I teach by instructing more vocally and teaching from my chair. I also recently started dancing for myself, albeit very little, after being scouted by ‘The Greatest Dancer’, a dance talent competition.
I want the dance industry to be accessible for all, whether its teaching, choreography or physically dancing. So, if you’re reading this and used to be an ex-dancer, or have no experience at all, don’t be scared. Pick up those dancing shoes and whether you do one arm movement in bed or a pirouette in a wheelchair, you are still a dancer. Don’t give up the dream.