Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Day That Changed My Life

It was 2009.  I was 16 years old.  Which seems like a lifetime ago, but in reality it was only four years in the past.  My Mum pushed a newspaper over to me across the table, pointing at one heading in particular;  "Auditions for a production of West Side Story".  I immediately scanned the rest of the ad and saw they took place that weekend, in town.  I got butterflies at the thought of what this could lead to, because being in a show, on an actual proper stage had always been a dream of mine.  I'd always thought it would be that, just a dream.  But here was a chance to make it happen.

I remember heading there with my Mum and Dad for emotional support.  I remember exactly what I was wearing.  I remember exactly what I sung - Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins - and I remember the "awwww" some older member gave when I told them said song choice, along with my age.  It struck me that I was probably the youngest person there, and might not have the best chance at getting in.  Looking down the line of the ten people I would audition alongside, I could tell they were all much older, and probably more experienced as a result.  But I sung my heart out anyway.

And I got in.

I threw myself into rehearsals.  Every Wednesday and most Sundays, I was Puerto Rico-ing it up as a Shark ('mon the Sharks).   Even though I wasn't in many scenes - OK, I was on a rota to sit on a bin for America - I loved every second I spent at Apollo.  Show week was just as amazing and magical as I had always imagined, I honestly cannot describe the feeling of being on stage, putting on this spectacle, and having people cheer for you, for you and everybody else's talent.

I went back and did a few more shows with Apollo, a pantomime, then Gypsy (which is actually a pretty crap musical, don't watch it unless you love Bette Midler.  Or Stripping.), and finally Les Mis.  This was possibly the highlight of my time there.  I finally got some solo lines, I was in the majority of the numbers, and I got praised when I filled in for the principal females when they weren't at rehearsals.  The week I spent in East Kilbride Theatre with that cast was just such a memorable and emotional one, I don't think I'll ever forget it.

My time at Apollo drew to a close, and after a short dry spell show-wise (mainly due to school exams) I joined The Minerva Company in their production of Anything Goes.  Once again, I was a newbie and a relatively baby member of the cast, but I still had a blast.  The choreographer recognised I could dance much better than most of the girls well, and gave me the part of an Angel, which meant I got more dancey stuff in a smaller, solo group.  Knowing that someone actually appreciates your talent, and makes an effort to showcase it, is quite something.  As usual, show week was brilliant and I loved my time aboard SS American.

And, finally, I've mentioned it before but my most recent show has been Guys and Dolls with the Cecilian Society at Glasgow Uni.  It was everything I've talked about above and more;  I got a solo line, was in the special female dance troupe, got snazzy costumes, and just generally had a blast.

All of this would not have happened had I not seen that advert in the paper, and I can honestly say my life has completely changed as a result, 100% for the better.  I have met some unbelievably talented people, and made some amazing friends who will undoubtedly stay with me for life.  I met my first kiss, my first boyfriend, and my current one all through different shows.  I've become more aware of my own talents now, and I'm not afraid to admit that I am a pretty good singer, or dancer.  I'm more confident in myself.  A little more daring and spontaneous too, I would say.

 Musical Theatre is such an amazing and crucial part of my life now.  All because of an advert, and I will always be greatful to my 16 year old self for finding the courage to take it up on its offer.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What's the pointe?

Ballet 2012
I've danced since I was about three years old.  I don't really know why my Mum and Dad decided to send me, maybe they thought it was what little girls would like, maybe I begged them, maybe I did a pirouette into an arabesque in fifth at the end of my first few steps.  Whatever their motives, I caught the bug.  And 16 years on (which looks terrifying written down) I'm still dancing.

Every Saturday, I would get my stuff together and get dropped off at Margaret-Ann Brogan's school of dance just up the road, and prance about for a few hours attempting jazz, tap, ballet and majourettes.  I sat exams and passed them, slowly making my way up the dancing academic ladder, if you will.  And at the end of every school year, in June, I would take part in the Display at a local High School.  Looking back at this school, I know it wasn't the best - the teachers were a bit old fashioned, the prices were expensive, the costumes were one big Lycra nightmare, and the high school the shows were held in wasn't the most dazzling or inspiring.  I'd been playing the viola all this time too, and when I got to High School I got into an council wide Orchestra, which took place on a Wednesday night.  Unfortunately (or maybe not), this ended up clashing with the senior classes of dancing and, after a long hard think, I left Margaret-Ann's.

The Rose - Ballet 2011

A couple of months down the line, I got talking to a friend who had also left my old school, and she mentioned that she'd started classes with someone new, Jayne Arthur.  They were on a Tuesday and fitted in with everything else, so I decided to go along, and I cannot describe how glad I am that I did.  Jayne had trained at a well known dance school, and gone on to perform in pantos at the King's, dance on cruise ships and perform along side people like Elton John and Liza Minelli!  On top of all the experience, she was young, she was pretty, and she just had this amazing energy and passion for teaching her pupils that you couldn't help but get swept up in.  I loved it from the get go; and while she didn't teach majourettes (who needs that anyway?  Unless you're going to march in a Thanksgiving parade), with Jayne's help I continued to sit and pass all my exams to a high standard.

A showgirl opening

To top it all off, Jayne has a vision for her end of year shows that are just... unlike anything I've ever seen.  Every year, for one or two nights, my local town hall is taken over by the school and by God, do we put on a show.  As if the calibre of the dancing wasn't enough to show off, we get the most amazing costumes and music to dance to, the ideas that come out the woman's head are just fantastic.  Even the standard iffy baby dances are elevated by the things they are put on the stage in (frogs, Mexicans, Dora the explorer and sheep, to name but a few).  I feel like a proper showgirl every time the seniors open the show in our feather head-dresses, and through the years I've also dressed up in a variety of cameo parts; from Harry Potter right up to wearing Jayne's wedding dress!  My loft at home is filled with costume box upon costume box, which comes in very handy for impromptu fancy dress events.

Sexy sexy (look at that pout)

But I always get asked one question: why do I do it?  I'm not looking for a career in dance, because I know how difficult and short lived it would be.  I know I'm not the best dancer technically in Jayne's; I have nice arms but I'm not the best for kicking high and I'm definitely not that super bendy type of dancer who can stick their legs behind their head and the drop of a hat.  I'm lucky if I can execute a teddy bear roll well.  But I don't care; I just love to dance.  I love to get up on that stage, with my friends, and show an audience what I can do.  I love feeling sexy when it's called for (see the above photo), but also being able to change it up with every dance we do.  It's such a mix, from a cool-as-ice tap number, to a really pretty and graceful ballet dance, to an all out, no holding back musical finale that leaves you out of breath, and all the while, never being able to wipe the smile off my face.  Because I'm doing something I love and I'm putting everything I can into it.  It's a passion, and I honestly don't think I'd be the person I am today without it.

The seniors with Jayne

Monday, 15 April 2013

Hello old friend

I thought that my poor, poor attempts at blogging previously was a hint to STOP IT.  Now.  Just walk away and forget about it.  And for a while I did, and it didn't really bother me.  But I liked having a place to put my style and thoughts and opinions, even if no one was really listening, so, here I am once more.

I won't make myself any ridiculous promise I won't be able to keep, like blogging every day because really, I couldn't find the time for that, but maybe something like once a week for definite.  To start with, I thought I'd do a little round up of major things that have gone on this year.

Ok so the first thing isn't really the nicest part of the year, in fact it's probably the shittest part of my year, of any year of mine really.  Everything went sour with Sam, as bad and as heartbreakingly sour as relationships can get.  I thought he was The One, as young as I was.  I could see such an amazing and happy future with him.  And a part of me still wishes for it, so badly.  But he treated me unbelievably badly, and thought the grass was greener on the other side where one night stands and student life called.  So I lost all faith and trust in him, and it's over.

As sad as that is, things are better now.  I've found someone new, someone better, Alex.  And while I know it's not as serious as me and Sam were,  I like it because of that.  I don't feel that immense pressure to be perfect all the time and don't think of the future as much- well, not as super far into the future.  It's much more healthy and I can be me and relax around him and know that whatever happens we'll just take it as it comes.  We get on, make each other laugh and just click well.  It's lovely

Uni has been the majority of my life.  And while parts of it are very good (lectures on Lolcats anyone?), I've finished second year feeling slightly deflated to tell the truth.  It's been a hard slog, I knew it would be, but it was made worse in my opinion by some really bad lecturers.  I've felt really angry and let down, but just need to keep my head down and push through.  

And tying in nicely to all those bad feels about lectures, I have exams in a few weeks.  Which terrify me.  On top of poor lecture quality, I have the knowledge that I need to average a B in my chosen Honours subjects (English Literature and Language) to get in.  Which is an awful lot of pressure.  These little highlighter guys are all I can do to try and cheer me up.  Roll on the 3rd May when Summer will officially have arrived!

And finally, for one of the best things of this year!  At the start of second year my good friends Gillian (Gildo) get me to tag along with her to an open rehearsal of Glasgow University's Cecilian Society.  For those of you not in the know (probably lots), the Cecilians are a musical theatre society at Glasgow who recently celebrated their 60th Anniversary so have been around for a while!  I've done a few shows in the past but this was my first with the Cecilians and it may possibly be one of my favourites.  We performed Guys and Dolls for a week in February and the whole experience was just fantastic.  I have made so many new friends and had such a blast at all the parties and events that have followed.  I also really think the whole show and company helped a LOT with the whole Sam situation, as it all came to an end round about the start of rehearsals so I had something I could really throw myself into and just forget about all the sad stuff.  So yeah, it's been a damn good decision and one I will never regret.  I'm  already looking forward to next year's show!

So that's about it for my first post in a very long time.  I hope it's a good 'un.  If not, at least semi-decent :)