Where I began
Before writing I spent 17 years as a Dancer and outreach worker teaching dance in inclusive settings. Meaning I worked alongside my colleagues in school/ college and Community groups which consisted of equal numbers of people with and without disabilities.
Over the years I must have taught thousands of children, young people and many groups of a mixture of ages both professional dancers/teachers friends and families of disabled people and other professionals working in the Health /Education and youth service sector.
Dance offered me a unique opportunity for me as a disabled person to showcase an ability I could develop and shed a positive spotlight on the world of disability instead of the sickly, patronising and ‘no hope’ kind of mentality I had spent my life surrounded by.
It instilled in me a new and exciting “I can do this and do it well” mentality, whilst becoming a role model for other disabled people and changing opinion and perception of what life must be like as a disabled person. Throughout my time as a dancer I performed on dozens of stages, up and down the country, have been featured on regional Tv and in local newspapers and have been spokesperson for the company I was so proud to represent on numerous radio interviews.
In some respects being in this kind of inclusive environment, I was spoiled as more opportunities arrived for disabled performers of all genres. The disability arts movement was a thriving movement gaining momentum all the time. As artists and as members of companies and organisations we were catapulted into the spotlight whilst we hopefully changed the face of the arts world for the better.
Being forced into making the decision to retire from this career that offered me so much, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to cope with… I relate it to a bereavement of sorts…letting go of what was.
However, all of the skills I learned during my time as a dancer I can now translate and am doing so as I fall in love more each day with my new passion of writing.
My mission as a dancer was to show as many people as possible what Disabled people CAN do given the opportunity therefore being a spokesperson came easy to me. I was representing part of the community which needed a positive spotlight distancing itself from the “poor me” mentality of old rather now its more like “go on, look at me.” And “this is what I do and I do it well”. So I am now stepping into the world of writing and campaigning for and about minority groups of society like, LGBT, Disability, Mental Health and other world problems I am passionate about such as animal welfare. I hope I can continue to be that spokesperson I was before in dance and show all aspects of the lives of people living within these minority’s and educate those outside of them for the purpose of better informing them and improving the lives and life experiences of many many people.
The three small images are of me during my time as a dancer in Solo, duet and ensemble settings, the larger image was taken this summer as I visited the venue where I stepped into the stage for the very first time as a dancer and fell in love with performing.
The venue has now a new role to play, but the memories came flooding back the second I stepped into it for the first time since I retired…which wasn’t easy believe me.
However, I can now look back on this time as a hugely successful period of my life and I hold thousands of fond memories I can recall on.
I have a strong belief that it was my experience of being a dancer/ teacher that has made me the writer I am today and hope to continue to develop into over time.