From the ages of 3-16 I attended dance classes on a weekly basis. By the time I was 14 I was attending 3 days a week in two different towns and doing about 6 hours a week in class and a bit more in practice. I was good at it. It was also the centre of my social life with most of my non-school friends being girls I danced with and the other kids who hung out at the community centres where the classes were held. I met my fiancé through one of those friends and he would meet me after class most evenings. I wasn't one of the ones who would go on to a career in dance, but I was quite good. It was a huge part of my life and on finding out that I attended so many classes adults often asked me if I was going to be dancer.
One of the reasons I didn't pursue this as a career was the audition process. On stage or in class I was entirely unselfconscious. I don't remember ever being really, truly nervous before a performance and I was easily at home on the stage. The audition studio was entirely different. If you've ever watched a dance film (Save the Last Dance, Centre Stage, Flashdance, Fame) you'll have seen the intimidation techniques used by the other girls. It’s a highly competitive industry and rejection is just something you have to deal with. I have no recollection of ever being given a part outside my own dance school, or progressing any further than the second stage of an audition. I know now, as a ‘grown-up’, that I'm the wrong body type. I'm a short and curvy hourglass, and that just isn't what the choreographers want. I was also an early developer which meant that the boy’s parts which most girls my age would have taken on, were also out of the question. At 14 I was still relatively unaware of my body and how developed I was for a young girl, and felt every rejection deeply personally.
Ten years later I'm finding that not a lot has changed in the way I feel and that my coping mechanisms aren't much different.
For the first time in a long while I’ve actually written all of this down and I’m glad in a way that I have the chance to take stock. Incidentally, the answer the adults received when they asked the pretty little girl in her pink practice leotard if she wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up was always, ‘no, I want to be a writer.’