Being the youngest of 3 children, from a working class family, with limited resources, meant that dancing lessons were always a little out of my reach. I recall being more than a little green with envy on seeing one of my childhood friend’s collection of ballet & tap shoes, along with numerous sparkling & shimmering costumes. If I’m honest, I think the shoes & outfits appealed more to me than the actual dancing, my ideal pair being shell pink satin pointe shoes! So, for almost 30 (deluded) years I was convinced there was a dancer in me somewhere.
At the age of 36, I decided now was the time & I signed myself up to an adult tap class, at the dance school my daughter attended. Along with quite a few other mums, I began the lessons with a nervous excitement, but it became clear after the first class that, although a real mix of abilities attended, we all had a great time & the lesson was as much about sociability & enjoyment as it was about learning or enhancing a skill. For many of us, it was the only hour we had each week that was just about us. A selfish hour, if you like. Eventually, & after quite a few lessons, our teacher, Sarah Taylor, decided it was time that we performed a number in the school’s annual show.
So, we embarked on learning a routine. We worked hard, tried our best &, whilst not exactly perfect, we were enthusiastic. The audience reaction was amazing & we were told “it was the best act of the night!” An amazing fete in itself, it’s not easy to upstage a group of cute two year olds in tutus! The performance for me was a struggle. I was almost sick with fear & unable to raise a smile whilst remembering the steps. I could do either or but not both together. My wonderful family, who had been in the audience, told me my footwork was good but I looked like a rabbit caught in a cars headlights! This was the first time I’d been on stage since, at the age of seven, my primary school class performed a song & dance routine to Rose Amy Fyleman’s Fairies poem. I still remember the poem & am often found to be “away with the fairies” too, but that’s a whole different blog. Anyhow, I soldiered on & performed, with continued fright, in a further 3 more summer shows & a couple of Christmas shows as well.
Due to my children’s increasingly busy social calendar, I have temporarily hung up my tap shoes, but can still be found “tapping” around the kitchen in my slippers. Not quite the same but I just can’t help it. In just a few weeks’ time, I will be watching the current adult tappers perform the number for this year & I don’t feel scared at all! It seems that adult classes, be it tap, ballet or street dance, are becoming ever more popular. For those who, like me, missed out as children, or for the former child stars that missed dancing as they got older. It’s also not bad exercise & you can have a boatload of fun too.