Got to keep on dancing!

Got to Keep on Dancing!

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When I was younger, maybe teenage years, I used to say that if I ever wrote an autobiography it would be entitled, ‘I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet!’ (Yes that’s the title of a DISCO classic!) At the time all I ever wanted to do was teach dance. I went to uni to study dance but loved my part time job so much that it became my full time job and then my 14 year career.

I ran pubs and nightclubs up until my second little boy was born and then a lot of things changed and I decided life is too short and I returned to my original dancing dream and qualified as a Dance Fitness instructor and now teach my own 80s themed dance class along with some other fitness brands. Throughout my career in bars, I continued to dance but only as a hobby. I went to ballet classes every week and tried out various other classes and of course danced on my bar!

I describe my life story as ‘Bar to Barre!’

Unfortunately my journey from bar to barre wasn’t a simple hop, chassé, pas de bourée dancing into my dreams. It was more like a series of constant audition rejections before deciding to write my own show and be the star of it.

My life and business motto became ‘Got to Keep on Dancing.’ (Also taken from a 70s song!)

At times I often felt like I was constantly trying to just get on with life and dance on a table and have fun… but somebody kept whipping the table cloth from beneath me making me say, ‘It’s fine, I’m fine!” I’d get back up. Then it felt like somebody was whipping the table cloth away, unscrewing the legs, smearing butter everywhere and I still had to say it’s fine… I’m still dancing you can’t knock me down!

My life was pretty simple until my first little boy was born, shortly after I was seriously ill with a life threatening c-section infection. I recovered and went back to my dance classes. Then I had a 10 week miscarriage… kept dancing… got pregnant again and just as my ballet school were preparing for a show so sadly I had to drop out. I would’ve been due days before the show so it wasn’t possible!

Then at my 20 week scan… there was no heartbeat. I was actually 21 weeks pregnant and I had to give birth, they wouldn’t allow surgery as it was too risky with my history. One of the first things I thought about when it was over was…. I want to be in the show! I can keep on dancing.

Finally something went in my favour and somebody dropped out so I was back in and I danced a scene coincidentally called, ‘In Mourning’ just a few days before my due date (the show was Sleeping Beauty and we were the funeral scene.)

A year later my bar, the love of my life, was closed with very little notice. The lease expired and the company decided not to renew so that was it. 12 years of a job I loved was over. I always worked in 70s/ 80s themed bars, I’m a true retro Queen and always felt accepted when I was there. I bet some of my best friends there, had some wonderful colleagues, even met my hubby there! It was a place of happiness and acceptance and it was over.

A few months later I got married and got pregnant again with my little rainbow boy. By this time I’d got another job in a pub company it was a different genre of bars and I met some wonderful people there too but sadly some rather vindictive people too and to cut a long story short, I decided to leave and follow my dreams. So in 2017 when my little boy was 6 months old and my oldest was almost 3, I left my career.

By 2018, I’d qualified to teach and set up teaching in the community. I set up my own brand of dance class too called VIDEO its basically if my old bar were a dance class it would be VIDEO!
So I’d been tested at various points through my life and kept dancing through all of it but the worst test was yet to come. In January 2019, aged just 2, my little rainbow baby boy was diagnosed with leukaemia.

And since then, we’ve just had to keep on dancing! I had a short break from my classes but went back to teaching in April and planning more classes as the time goes on. I genuinely believe that dancing is THE single best thing for a person’s mental health and physical health. It ticks all the boxes. I can honestly say that when I’m in my classes I can be me and with all the stress of in and out of hospital, standing up to people that just won’t listen and all of the other stresses triggered by the diagnosis – dancing has kept me happy.

I’m quite an unusual dance teacher because I always say to my dancers,

“I don’t want to teach you to dance, I want to teach you to keep on dancing!”

And my life has taught me that it means two things;

Keep being you. No matter what life throws at you, you are still you. Keep on doing something that you love. If you lose you then what’s the point? It’s easy to go through a rough patch and just give things up one by one but I think that makes the situation worse.
You’ve got to keep going. No matter what! When you are in a metaphorical routine you see it through until the curtain closes. If something goes wrong you can’t just walk off stage. Flashback to my performance when I was 15l! My ballet shoe ribbons came undone and I kept going. The principal was in the wings silently shouting (yes that’s a thing for dance teachers in the wings) “Kick it off! Kick it off!” I just kept going. Then for even more LOLs our prop nearly fell off stage. I kept on dancing, kept on dancing!

If anyone takes anything from my life story I want it to be ‘Got to Keep on Dancing!’

True to my word, I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet! Neither should you.

Guest Blog by

Jo Eden-Sangwell

@DanceAcouk

Dance Aspirations

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