Pretty much every little girl dreams of becoming a ballerina at least once. I was certainly no exception. As an adult, people see me as an administrator, a producer, a director and (if I push it) an actor, but before I ever became interested in theatre, I wanted to be a dancer.
Now that I have little girls of my own, and I see them learning how to walk and move and express themselves, I truly realise that dance was such a huge influence in my life from a very young age. It brought a shy, lonely, (then) single child so much joy. I could see endless beauty in it, and in my myself when I thought nobody else could.
So, for your reading (and viewing pleasure), here is a history of my musical and movement influences… part one!
Age 2: Ok, I could be exagerating on this “fact” but bear with me. The first movie I remember seeing was Grease. My mom told me that I could recreate the Olivia Newton-John “Tell me about it, stud” line complete with hair flip, hip swivel and cigarette toss. Attractive for a toddler, I’m sure.
Age 4: I took my first step dancing classes with the MacCulloch Dancers. I recall dabbling in highland dancing when I was a bit older too, but I was much more of a fan of stomping my feet and making noise than gracefully hopping through the air. Not long after I also took my first ballet lessons. Again, it wasn’t my thing. I loved being able to move but hated the structure. Strangely, structure and form are such strong components of the movement work I do now, but back then if I wasn’t allowed to freeform, I wasn’t interested.
Ages 5 through 7 – Let’s call this my MTV phase. My parents got a satellite dish which I thought was soooooo cooooool. They used our fancy VCR to record videos from MTV for me and I would replay them over and over. Easily the three most influential ones on my little mind are below. (Imagine a 5 to 7 year old me being able to re-create each of these videos step-by-step… because I could. I’m not saying I was any good… but I sure had fun trying.)
Ages 8 and 9: I was teased a lot in primary school. I was the only Anglophone kid in a Francophone school. I didn’t play sports. I didn’t dress “right”. I had bad hair (thanks mom!) Oh, and practicing step dancing routines while in the outfield playing baseball during gym class and constantly getting distracted, not catching the ball and making my team lose probably didn’t help either. Plus I was obsessed with this guy:
Age 10: This was when I learned about my Mom’s secret past life as a community theatre actor. To celebrate Glen Production’s 25th (?) anniversary, the troupe asked my Mom to come back to perform a few numbers. She would bring me to rehearsals and I would sit and watch in awe as she did this:
Ages 11-12: My parents, against their better judgement I’m sure, let me go to Friday night “Casselman Dances”. These were essentially community centre run gatherings that played loud pop music, served only Coke and Ginger Ale and allowed awkward pre-teens to grind up against each other. Considering I was one of the only “kids” in my group that felt confident enough to actually get on the floor and dance by this point, I was in my element. Fond grooving memories include:
Next up… Part Two… from high school to today.