I’ve been realizing a lot lately that not many people are interested in positive outlook fluff, Britain is more gritty than that. Britain has a backbone just like I have a backbone when I judge a Dance Competition. I have over 25 years experience in dance and Britain has Hundreds of Years of Experience in modern life… you start to have humility once you’ve been knocked down a few times and see life for what it is.
Experience and Emotion is everything when it comes to Art.
The moment a performance goes from just being a rehearsed sequence of movements and instead becomes a genuine connection to music or a moment, real emotion emerges and that is Art. You see it; you feel it and you are affected by it as an audience member. That Magic is what I live for.
As a Kid, competing in dance competitions all over the State of Missouri in the United States of America I realized I could touch people and make them feel something through the power of dance. I realized I only had the power to do that when I connected to the story of a song and made it real to me. I’d like to say I was brave enough to share a piece of me without caring what people thought but actually the stage was the only place I knew how to feel and be honest.
I worked hard enough to win lots of awards and the Emotional Execution Awards were my most coveted. I call those my Black Swan moments. They were only awarded to one special stand out performer from the day and out of hundreds and hundreds it was often times me. I owe a lot to my emotional, shy, little girl self. Things happened to me when I was young and I didn’t really know how to process them. I didn’t know how to speak to anyone about it and so they lived festering inside of me just waiting to explode out. I became an introvert completely taken with my own thoughts, fears, hurt, anger, and frustration and the only place I could expel it was on the stage. I would try so hard to throw it out in rehearsal but the anger would take over driving me to do it again and again and again full out. It was never good enough. I became a perfectionist, obsessed with getting it right.
My teacher, Ms. Stephanie, was my drill sergeant, she was hard on me, and she yelled because she knew I could take it and knew that it would push me to be my best. She was toughest on me when she saw I could give just a little more, try a little harder, believe a little more.
My teacher, Ms. Bonnie, taught me about lyrical dancing. She taught me what it meant to connect to music and to feel it. How to use a simple motion to describe and paint the picture – she taught me to look at a dance performance as if you are painting a canvas using the colors of emotion through movement. Ms. Heidi taught me to have fun, Ms. Kathy taught me to enjoy each moment.
Ms. Jo taught me everything.
Ms. Jo was the Mother of all my Teachers and she owned the studio, White Oak Dance Academy. She started this studio out of her garage and built it into a much bigger studio. She taught me that when you go to an audition as a dancer and the choreographer asks if you can juggle, you say yes even if you know the answer is no – you go home, learn how to juggle and go back and do it. She taught me that Ballet is the Foundation of all dance. She taught me to work hard, be responsible, and never settle for less then your best. She also taught me that dance is a way of life if I choose for it to be. She gave me the opportunities to join a Dance Troupe, to Compete, and to travel to New York City on Scholarship to train like a professional and see a Broadway show. These experiences broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the wider possibilities in the World away from Missouri. Nothing was ever handed to us but opportunities to fundraise, work, and earn the experiences and lessons were given to us to participate in or not.
I didn’t come from a rich family. My ambitions to be the best far exceeded our bank account. So Ms. Jo allowed me to work for my classes by working at the studio cleaning, working the reception desk, and helping assist younger classes. She set up candy bar sales, car washes, and charity performances at Christmas for both the Mentally Disabled Homes, Old Folks Homes and created a big Musical such as Annie or BIG during the Holiday season… the fee for people to come watch us was canned goods which were donated to the Homeless for the Holiday.
I am who I am because of White Oak Dance Academy.
I don’t take no for an answer when it comes to being a working dancer. I go full out every single time I dance in rehearsal and that is the reason I have been able to slowly beat my competition. My persistence in making movement become Art is what has always got me noticed. When people tell me no, when I face rejection just as I have done since I was 7, just as I do now at 33, I get knocked, acknowledge my step back in confidence and keep going.
It’s not about staying positive it’s just about doing it.
It’s not about ‘ask and you shall receive’ it’s just about doing it.
It’s not about success or fame or any other false state of being… its just about doing it.
It’s about doing what I love, sharing it, and seeing where it takes me.
So far, it took me to Los Angeles dancing mostly in Film and Television, then World Wide tours as a Pussycat Doll and now a Family and Life in London.
London – a place where the underdog always wins. Where creativity is so raw it has taught me about letting go of my American perfectionism and embrace and celebrate my flaws for those are what make me who I am. The raw dance talents I have seen and continue to see in this Country are some of the greatest gifts of inspiration I have ever had. My love for the UK has sparked an interest in the British way and inspired me to ‘Just get on with it’.
My Daughter’s Birthday is today.
My Husband Max is a filmmaker and we enjoy being creative together and sharing what we love. So one afternoon we packed everything up and went to Sunbeam Studios to dance and film and share. Willow crawled around exploring and watched her Mum and Dad create together. We started with a gorgeous song I love by Birdy, which I will share soon but after we finished with Birdy we realized that we still had a few hours left and wanted to continue. Both of us remembered a song I had recorded a few years ago with The Next Room. It was a song that I did for the single reason of just wanting to create something fun. For years I tried to get people to listen to it, to like it, and maybe give it a chance somewhere… it went nowhere. But in that moment at Sunbeam Studios, Max and I decided to have a play around for the sake of just doing what it is we love to do.
The Success is not in the Record Deal, the Awards, or the Fame.
The Success is in the doing… and in being your best.
For my little girl’s First Birthday I’d like to share a bit of that with her. My Husband and I hope to set an example that even though we are Parents now and our priorities have changed, we are still getting on with it and just doing it because we love it and we love doing it together as a Family.
I want Willow to believe in herself even when she feels like nobody else does. I hope she never gives up and always finds ways to share whatever it is she loves and is passionate about no matter what. I want her to know that the only believer in your Art you need is you. The only audience you need is those that choose to watch.
I hope that one day my little Princess will share a dance with her Mummy just because we can.