“Movement is life: without movement life is unthinkable”
Back in early 1994 I was leafing through the prospectus of what is now Trinity Laban, the dance school where I did my undergraduate degree, and I saw a very similar quote by Merce Cunningham; “Life is movement”. For some reason those three words really struck a chord in me and have stayed with me ever since.
Fairly recently I arranged a small A-Level Dance group reunion to go and see Ghost Dances by Rambert. Ghost Dances was the first piece of dance that I was ever introduced to (on VHS!) back in 1992. A couple of things happened in the theatre that night. The first was that as soon as the music started I burst into tears! It came completely out of the blue. I wasn’t sad, but lots of happy memories quickly came to the surface from my years when I was involved in performing arts, which was a very large and important part of my life. I think I realised right then that I was missing something that I needed to reintegrate into my life. Not just the performing part, but the being involved with other creatives doing creative things. That night I was also with an old teacher and mentor of mine and it was like he peered right through me as he asked, ever so casually but with a hint of mischief, “So, where do you see yourself in five years?”. It was a question that made me squirm actually because I knew right then that what I wanted most of all for myself was to reintegrate what I used to do with my teaching and that that might not be an easy path.
Often, I think I ought to do something but don’t follow through with action, especially if it might be a challenge. This time was different. Within a few days I reactivated my long ‘dormant’ Equity membership and with that I could access acting classes at The Actors Centre. That was quite a big deal for me and I was quite nervous at the first workshop. My ‘performing muscles’ had grown a little weak and I felt rusty and a little bit ‘rubbish’. I did really enjoy it though and so I persevered with a few more workshops until I felt like I got ‘my eye back in’. It was at this point that I decided to do something crazy and go the whole hog and audition for Drama School! Acting is really what I have always wanted to do. I actually wanted to do acting more than dance, but I loved dance too and was advised that you can’t really come to dance late in life unlike the other way around. Way back in 1999 I had auditioned for RADA and I think I got as far as it is possible to get a place without getting one. The principal of the college at the time even wrote me a letter saying how well I had done and that I was definitely a candidate for a leading drama school should I audition again in future. Then life took a different path but this ‘near miss’ and a sense of regret always stayed with me. Thus it was a big deal for me to put myself through all that again to see if could go that last step further this time and win a place at drama school nearly 20 years later.
Two speeches learned, practiced and performed later and the recall auditions complete I was thrilled to receive not just one offer but THREE to choose from. The first offer from the Drama Studio resulted in a little tear because it really meant a lot. Then came Arts Ed and finally, the one I really wanted, Drama Centre. Not only does the latter have a truly excellent reputation a part of the actor training is based on Rudolph Laban’s work, so it feels like the perfect place for me after my undergraduate degree at what was then The Laban Centre for Movement & Dance. Getting into drama school all these years later feels like one of my greatest achievements. It held a lot of fear for me and it would have been easier to give the whole thing a swerve and leave it as a ‘could have been’ moment. It was a brave step to take and risk the reality of not getting in. Sometimes you just have to ‘turn up’ and go for it!
Now I stand on the threshold of what I am sure will be a challenging but rewarding year. I feel that if you are pursuing something you love then little can go wrong, no matter what happens. It’s a big crazy, financially stupid, step to take. But at the end of the day, if I allow myself to imagine myself at the end of my life, I’d certainly regret not doing it more than the other way around.
Whilst I am studying my Pilates and yoga classes are continuing at the same times and places. I shall be teaching on Saturday mornings in Sydenham on on Thursday nights on Forest Hill. The rest of the classes I have taught for these past 14 years will be placed in the very capable hands of my colleagues Luisa D’Ambrosio and Barbara Christians until my sabbatical from full time teaching is complete. After that I plan to keep teaching as much as I am able. So this is definitely not a ‘goodbye’. Just some much needed movement.