As mentioned on the blog not so long ago, I’m taking sometime away from it to reassess things and to make time for other priorities, including my mental health. During my hiatus I hope to have a few guest posts for you to sink your teeth into and the first is truly inspiring.
Yvonne Hegarty is a passionate dancer and part of a recently established Dance Company, Saoirse, alongside fellow dancer Fiona Burke. In this piece, Yvonne details her own experiences with Dance and how she feels it should be for everyone. Visit the companies Facebook page HERE to learn more about Saoirse. Enjoy reading and don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments– Claire x
I truly believe now more than ever that dance, as a hobby, as a sport or as a vocation is in fact for everyone. I have danced my whole life in every sense of the word. I am a classically trained Ballet dancer since the age of three, I have studied dance full time in college and now I’m doing what I love, dancing whenever and wherever I can. My perceptions of what it is to be a dancer seem to have changed and altered over the course of my training. Since I was a little one I wanted to be the Prima Ballerina, in other words, I wanted to have legs up to my ears, weigh less than a hundred pounds and be on a stage where everyone’s’ eyes were firmly fixed on me. This ideal is no longer in anyway desirable to me, having discovered that dance for me isn’t about learning steps and doing exams, it’s about having passion, having soul, having creativity and love for movement. It’s about your bare feet in the sand connecting with the Earth and the wind in your hair. The people who understand this, they are the dancers I aspire to be now.
Don’t get me wrong, technique is important to me and those who can understand the beauty of a properly pointed toe or flat turn out will be with me on this. Dance technique is hours of pain and dedication beyond belief and I have complete respect for that. I am grateful for my training, right back from my days in Dublin Ballet School where my love of dance began, it was impressed onto me to have technique and hats off to Linda Higgins, the woman who really made it possible for me. It was worth it, the 6am starts, the unpaid work experience, the endless point shoes and generally jugging the life of a normal young person and the life of a dancer. Have you ever been hungover in a Tutu? I have, it’s not pretty. It was Hell at times but now I have my technique, the foundation of my life and my future.
I had some time off dance for a while. I got disheartened after a few failed auditions I began to realise my legs weren’t up to my ears, perhaps I didn’t want to weigh less than a hundred pounds, maybe I wanted people to give me some praise rather than constantly being told, “you don’t have great turnout” or “you’re not good enough for that” or “dance isn’t for everyone”. I tried to blame others for failing and to be honest It really sucked and I gave up. Bad move, but it gave me the time out to realise that the world is full of haters. There are not many people who can shine through that, there are not many who can persevere through the hate and I told myself to love instead. I told myself I was good enough, more than enough and then came the birth of my own dance company Saoirse with another dancer who I completely respect and admire, Fiona Burke. She has gone through similar struggles in the dance industry and we have found ourselves the proud owners of a company we believe will make a difference. Saoirse for us is a place of creativity and love of dance that extends further than just technique. We use our training to create something meaningful and something that will hopefully inspire Dublin to keep dancing and keep loving art and theatre. Here’s a link to “Violet Hour” a short film we made this summer.
It wasn’t until I had that time out of the dance community (which in Ireland is tiny) that I realised the joy of dance should not be an exclusive pleasure; it should be and is for everyone. I was involved in a performance called “The Choreography Project” with about twenty other dancers; some, including myself had years of dance experience and some had none at all. The choreography consisted of a collaboration of all our work which we created by moving our bodies the way certain memories made us want to move. It was a beautiful process, free of prejudice and the competitiveness you might associate with the stereotypical dance studio vibe. The choreography was beautiful because it came from an authentic place for us all, not just learned steps and sequences but movement shaped by memory and real experience.
On a superficial level I started losing weight without even trying. I was fitter and healthier but more importantly I was happier. Leaving dance for me was a decision I always knew was wrong. When sitting on the train going to work in a job I didn’t like, with the rest of the 8am commuters, my mind was always dancing. I imagined choreography all day long, I secretly danced in the tiny kitchen of my apartment that I was working day and night to pay for. Dance was never far from my heart. This jump back to fitness gave me the passion and drive to be adventurous to do it on my own, to be one of the brave ones and start sharing this love.
My time in “The Choreography Project” and some wonderful performances in “Creative Steps” (An amazing platform for young dancers ages 16-25) have inspired me to keep this experience as a way to encourage every single person to dance. I am trained and dance has been my world forever but I know there are people who have never taken a class but they are dancers too. If you dance, you are a dancer. So do it, just get up and move, feel the power that you create by just swinging our arms around. Okay, I sound like a hippy but it’s true, choose to be a lover not a hater and choose to dance. There are platforms for the over 60s, for young adults and countless schools for children. If joining a project or taking a class all seems too intimidating also, I strongly encourage people to just dance around their kitchens, or throw shapes in the local night club. Dance is the source of all my energy (that and coffee) and it is my joy to see it come to life in Dublin again. Dance for your body. Dance for your mind.
You are all dancers and I am making it my personal journey to get people to start believing in that.
If you’re a blogger or just have something you are passionate about and would love to write about it please contact me here.