By Miss Gem
It's so important to have a supportive dance family. Everyone was there for me when that huge (vocational) tap exam fail this year completely knocked the wind out of my sails. And it really did - I was floored by it. I couldn't even put my shoes on and do a shuffle without bursting into tears. I had to keep going out of the room because even watching others do a tap made me feel all panicky. But my dance family were all there for me, and I got through it. I soon started tapping again and even teaching/choreographing more than ever before.
I think it's because dancing takes over every part of your physicality, and mentality too. When you've practised and practised and then you perform, it makes you feel so powerful. Nothing else goes through your brain apart from the beat and the feeling of You, in space, expressing a story or a mood. It's all YOUR energy, and if it goes wrong, you feel like you've wasted all that power. Where has it gone? You feel like a painter who looks down mid-masterpiece to find they've had their paints stolen, or a rock band suddenly finding themselves with no power. And in dancing fails, it's usually down to someone else's opinion of you, that you can't do anything about! ARGH…
That why it's so important to make sure there are amazing people around dancers who make up for the times where it goes wrong. Our older ones are a sisterhood and they have already learned to love and support each other in a world full of Mean Girls - they help each other so much when someone has a bad day or crisis. We've had illness and injuries and frustration when bodies won't do the thing properly. We've had sadness about exam results and we've had getting to the very last stage of auditions and not making it... It's always heartbreaking to see them sad about dance when it's such a joyful thing. But dance love is BIG love and nothing stops us grabbing hold of the joy when we can, and helping each other when we lose it!
Early (and harsh) life lessons are plentiful in the world of dance (some might say that's healthy and dancers are set up for the disappointments of life) but the mental health of our dancers is always our priority. We make sure nobody gets pushed for an exam if they don't want to take one. We won't enter a student until we believe they will get a good result. We won't force anyone to go on stage if they don't want to, especially if they're only 3 and really have had enough of being magic ballerinas and just want hugs!
And those times where someone has a wobble - either an actual wobble or an emotional one haha! - and if someone accidentally lets go of hands in a circle and goes flying (as demonstrated in Show Ho Ho during that lovely sweeties dance, hahaha) it actually makes us so happy to see the circle collapse in giggles, as we know the joy of dancing together is always more important that whether it goes right or wrong.