Why I dance. From Pointe Shoes to Barefoot Dancing!


As a little girl there wasn't a day where I wasn't hopping or skipping barefoot somewhere. From the age of three years old my Mum sent me off to ballet lessons at our local dance school. I can still remember the freezing cold church hall, the smell, my first (strict) ballet teacher, my pale pink tutu, and I still have my very first pair of tiny ballet shoes. Mum often tells me the story of how she was in the waiting area that first day watching me dancing with my favourite teddy-bear under my arm. In that moment Mum had a vision/ prediction that dance was going to be something very important to me and my life. . . Well she wasn’t mistaken. Fast forward 43 years and I am still dancing. Thanks Mum for signing me up to dance :) My first love was definitely ballet. I dreamt of being a prima ballerina and dancing the classics, like Swan Lake, and Giselle. By the age of eight years I finally had my first pair of pointe shoes (unbelievably painful, but I didn't care) and I was dancing every night of the week, and all day Saturdays! Nothing would get in the way of my dancing, I loved it so much! By the age of twelve I wanted to leave home and go to professional dance college in the UK. My Mum and Dad weren’t too happy about that but still allowed me to audition. I wasn't accepted by the college at the time, it was like my whole world came crashing down on me at the young age of only twelve. I was devastated! The college graciously told me what to work, and improve on and asked me to re-audition when I was sixteen. I did re-audition and was thankfully accepted, but I chose to audition for other dance colleges as well, and ended up leaving home at sixteen, and going to the Northern Ballet School in Manchester. . My time at Northern Ballet School was fantastic, I loved every moment. Totally in my element!! I grew up watching the TV show FAME, and being at full time dance college was a bit like being on FAME!! Sure it was ‘hard’ and grueling work for three years, but totally worth all the pain, sweat and tears.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I actually realised I wasn’t going to make the ‘cut' as a classical ballerina. Another very difficult lesson for me to learn, a shattered dream for sure! My body had limitations for a classical ballet career, and although I worked extremely hard and pushed my body to it’s limits, it was not going to be my path, it was not meant to be. I was young, and so quickly bounced back. I fell in love with teaching and knew this was where my talents truly lay. So on leaving NBS I danced professionally for a number of years. It certainly had lots of highs and lows. The audition process was tough, and soul destroying, but I was fortunate and landed some great roles and was able to travel around Europe and the States. But by my early twenties I was ready to hang up my dancing shoes and follow my calling to teach. So fast forward to my early thirties, still teaching classical ballet full-time (6 days a week), newly married, and ready to start a family. I loved children, and always saw myself having 2, 3 or more, but as life goes…you don’t always get what you want, you get what you need. My husband and I tried for over 5 years to have a baby and it just wasn’t meant to be for us. Devastating of course but out of our control. This time in my life was profound and as a result of this experience I now find myself in a place in my life that I had never envisioned for myself. . . . . . and now being able to reflect back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not being able to have a child, I started to look at my relationship with my body, my health and my life in a closer way. I knew I needed to make some serious changes, my body was in need of healing! I could no longer continue to push my body to it’s absolute limits, and expect it to be okay, it was time to look at different ways to move, and to be. So I started taking yoga, tai chi, taekwondo, meditation classes, and then fell into a practice called Nia, which is a blend of dance, healing and martial arts. I really enjoyed Nia for some years, as it opened the door and showed me that movement can be more mindful and holistic in nature. My life at this time took me all over the world, where I was fortunate to train with some leading teachers and masters in different forms of yoga, martial arts, dance therapy, meditation, holistic healing, and somatic movement. Through these practices I have experienced and embodied many techniques which helped align, balance, and support me on my personal healing journey to re-connect with my body, and as a beautiful unexpected addition re-connect with my inner self and spiritual path. So today as I share my personal movement story with you, my body-mind-spirit are happier and healthier than ever before. I am still teaching and love what I do. My healing path now supports me to guide others. My work has evolved into my own conscious dance/ somatic movement practice. It has ‘no name’ it’s my unique movement message expressed through me as my life studies. Everything I have learnt, understood, misunderstood, let go of, embodied and resonated with, is apart of my creative dance practice. I am a dancer, always have been, always will be, but my movement message has just shifted. I have gone from wearing pointe shoes to dancing barefoot. I feel a greater sense of liberation, wisdom for my body's intelligence when I truly listen to her signals, appreciation, inner bonding, and self expression. All these accompany and guide me as I dance my dance today (in the present). I knew dance was my first love, but I never realised dance could also be my therapist! How cool is that! Conscious dance is a wonderful form of therapy. The possibilities blow my mind, and change my everyday life in profound and positive ways. When I dance it helps me to figure out any struggles or obstacles I am facing with myself and in my life. Dance is a language that speaks to me, when I dance I GET it, everything makes better sense, life just feels easier. What I dance in the studio it is not separate from my life. . . the two are inter-linked for me. The reason I dance is to meet myself; to be with myself; to align with my higher self; to create space; to reveal and embody my truth; to release what no longer serves me; and to take responsibility for my thoughts, emotions and actions. So if you are reading this and find yourself stuck or facing a challenge in your life, I recommend you re-connect with your dance. Experience a conscious guided movement session and feel what opens up for you. Movement is creative expression, bringing the unconscious to the conscious and gets you in touch with your inner state. Dance is a direct route to truth, to source and fulfilment.

If dance is in your blood don't deny yourself the opportunity to dance.

KEEP DANCING everyone. In many cultures dance is indigenous to life. Let’s ‘be moved’ by the exploration of our inner self. . . If you enjoyed this post and feel it would help and benefit someone you know, please feel free to share the love.

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Movement is Soul Medicine with Tracey Fenner

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