'I want to dance like her Mammy', said the awestruck three year old little me, many moons ago. Standing there right in front of the black and white TV screen, with both hands touching the beautiful ballerina as she danced pirouettes and grand jetés all across the stage. And arabesques too...
I had to wait a few years before my wish was granted. And a few months more to get the leotard, tights and beautiful pink ballet shoes that were my most prized possessions, ever. How could my parents have ever doubted whether or not I'd 'stick to it'?
I didn't just 'stick to it' as regards Ballet, but as I grew older I embraced all forms of musical theatre style dancing, and dancing became more and more a huge part of my life. I adored it and worked very, very hard to become the best dancer I could be..... dancing pirouettes and grand jetés of my own all across the stage.
Fast forward a year or twenty to the young adult who went away with her non-dancing friends and whom, after some silly 'shenanigans', came home with torn ankle ligaments. I did a right job of it too, ending up in hospital for a week. I eventually came home with crutches, a cast on my leg and some daily Physio exercises to do. I do recall that the first question I asked my doctor after my operation wasn't 'will I walk again?' oh no, it was the far more important 'will I dance again'? He assured me that yes, I would.
So, off I went doing my set exercises three times daily, plus any other dance-like stretches I could manage. My aim was to strengthen the rest of my body so that it could best support my weakened leg when the cast came off. Before long I was back dancing in my magical world of the stage, finding that, thanks to my strict exercise regime, I could now do the splits! A move I had long since yearned to do, and now I could. I was back stronger than ever it seemed.
Myself and my friends went from show to show and musical society to musical society, with oodles of dance classes in between, dancing our way up the twinkle toed ladder. There are lots of magical moments that stand out from that era and our Tops of the Town days are right up there as the most special. Adding the spice of competition to the magical elements of dancing on stage and you've got one helluva show.....and some fantastic memories too.
But the years roll on and the dancer grows up. I'm now a 50 something stay-at-home-mum to a teenager, living in suburbia, who along the way found an interest in doing some choreography. Being a Desperate Housewife is clearly not interesting enough for me it seems. It's not a huge amount of choreography, just some local school shows. But I do adore it. I adore passing on the stage experience I've gained to this generation and seeing the starlight gleam in their eyes as they perform on stage. I like to believe that in doing what I do, I am doing my bit to help keep the spirit of musical theatre and musical societies alive for another talented generation.
Fast forward thirty years or so and this 50 something, dancing mum, finds herself hit by another debilitating injury and is laid up for goodness knows how long. A back injury this time, hugely impacting on my left leg, sustained by attending a Pilates class of all things and this time I was hospitalised for three weeks. Once more the first question I asked my Doctors and Physiotherapist was 'will I dance again'? However this time the answers ranged from a 'maybe' ,to a shrug accompanied by a 'we'll see' ,to an implied 'never' - there's a huge twinkle toed grand jeté of a difference between a 'maybe' and a 'never' you know.
It may be thirty years later but yet again here I am with one crutch, frenetically doing my Physio exercises three times daily, plus some short walks. However this time dance-like stretches cannot be done and I doubt I'll be performing the splits any time soon!
There will be no long walks, exercise classes or dancing opportunities for me either, for quite some time to come.
This really saddens me, especially since a project myself and some of my dancing friends have been secretly working on since last year is soon to come to fruition. And it's looking like I will not be partaking.
So, is this it for me? Nature's way of reminding me of my age, dragging me firmly into my fifties with me throwing a strop because I clearly don't want to?
I don't think so, despite what they say. I know I'll have to be careful, it is a back injury after all. But there has to be a way and I aim to find it.
Dancing is in my DNA and besides, I'm not quite ready to hang up my dancing shoes just yet......