and they really should.
Growing up, all I did was dance. I went from lesson to competition to practise to costume fitting to team rehearsal and then back again – and I loved it. Being part of my local dance school was the best thing I did, we were part of a great community, we gained confidence and sportsmanship and how to be part of a team. Many of my life-lessons have been learnt through some dance experience or another. I went on to study dance at College and then University, and qualified as an IDTA Freestyle Dance Teacher in 2008. Although I have had sensible day jobs and my dancing and teaching has taken more of a back seat in my adult life, I have always been involved with dance to some extent or another.
Then I became a Mum.
Since having my son, of course he has been my top priority and my time is devoted to him, as it should be. But there did come a point after he was born where I longed for just a bit of time to myself, doing what I love: dancing. I needed the adult conversation, a different focus, and boy did I need the exercise!
I approached many different schools in Bristol with my CV, enquiring if they needed a teacher and if they had any suitable adult classes for me to attend. I have to say, this was a miserable experience at a time when I really needed a boost. Some schools were not interested in letting someone come to their classes who was a teacher, even though I had no intention of poaching their students or ideas. My worst experience was when I met with a well-known franchise who had a teaching opportunity – after discussing where I would teach and a positive meeting, I received an email out of the blue telling me I had been unsuccessful. I expect the reasons for this are simple – I don’t look like a dancer any more. In my adult life and since being pregnant, I have gained weight at an uncomfortable rate. It would be astonishing if it wasn’t so depressing. I have recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism which certainly hasn’t helped with my weight gain but I don’t want to make excuses – I am not as active as I should be, and I don’t always make sensible choices when it comes to food. This aside, I am still the same person I used to be – I still have the same experience, knowledge and ability to teach children. I am passionate, reliable and I know what I am doing.
From this point I couldn’t decide if I should just accept people’s attitudes towards me when it came to dance and throw in the towel. My confidence had taken enough of a knock and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength for more rejection. Could I really throw away years of hard work, dedication and passion because people are small minded? I decided no, I couldn’t and sent one more email….
Thank goodness I did. As soon as I met with the Director of Streetenvy Dance and Fitness Academy I started to feel excited about this possible opportunity. I had struggled to find many well established dance schools in Bristol, and this one immediately had a fun, positive and genuine vibe about it. Simon was more interested in getting to know my personality and capability than whether I was a size 8, and we instantly hit it off. He invited me to join an adult intermediate street dance class and help with some of the kids classes. I was delighted! The adult class has been a great outlet for me – I have met loads of lovely, funny and like-minded people who don’t want to talk about nappies/breastfeeding/sleep, and this has also encouraged me not to talk about these things for once! I have got to use these skills I have had locked away for so long, learning complex choreography and remembering routines. It has been great to feel like me again. I have also got to work with some adorable children and devise a routine for their show which took place at the weekend – and I even performed in it too! It was such a great experience and just what I needed. I am so grateful to have found a place where dance comes first, where you can be yourself and where my experience as a dance teacher is valued.
Of course now I am expecting number 2 and sporting a sizeable bump, I am going to have to wind things down with my dancing, but really hope once our new baby has arrived I will be able to return to this great dance school and utilise the support and positivity once again. I have always dreamed of running my own dance school – this isn’t the right time in my life to do so, but maybe one day when our children are older and at school I will be able to make this happen. For now, I am just happy to dance as and when I can, and keep meeting great people who also love to dance.
Have you found it hard to return to your hobbies or passions after having a baby? I’d love to hear about your experiences, feel free to leave me a comment below. Xx