I met with dance teacher, Victoria Thomas of Dreams Dance School to learn more about who she is as a dancer (and drank a lovely cuppa too!)
How did you know you wanted to be a dancer?
Gosh, good question. Probably the relationship with rhythm and music, I enjoyed it from a young age. It’s the creativity of movement. I always liked choreographing my own work and experimenting with rhythms and the different things you can do with it. If you want to do anything with dance it has to be about music.
There are two types of dancer - one is very expressive and likes to do their own thing, not always to a specific rhythm, the other type of dancer will look for direction; they’ll like to be told an exact movement, how and when to do it.
Why do you dance?
It’s the only true escape, you don’t think about anything else except for the movement. I find that in any other exercise form you start to think about other things, what I’m having for dinner etc…It’s a lonely world out there. Dance is a social thing more than anything else, it bonds you together. It’s not just about you, it’s also how you work with others. There’s a new element in the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) syllabus now where they mark your relationship with another dancer. It’s great! Before, it was just about you and how you looked, now if you walk across a dancer or block them, you’ll be marked down. Dance gives you an opportunity to forget about the outside world, it gives you an outlet to be somewhere with others for a little while.
Who inspires you?
Wow! That’s quite difficult. I suppose it’s got to be my dance teachers. Jo smith and her mother, Mrs Smith, who founded Cardigan school of dance. They started it all off for me. I had another teacher, Jackie Evans. She did more of the show-type dances, it was about costumes and performance as well as dance. That’s an element I think I try and incorporate into my routines as well. You have your ballet which is beautiful and can be assessed with RAD, but then you have your jazz classes and your tap classes which allow you to really go to town with performance. There was also a teacher in school called Lisa Richards. She asked me to choreograph their show when I was only 15, so I was teaching kids older than me. I realised then that I was actually fairly good at teaching and perhaps that was an avenue to go down. I’ve been teaching ever since.
Who are your favourite performers? Do you have any particular routines that you love?
Oh my gosh there’s so many, I could go on for ages. STOMP is one of my all time favourites. I love it, the whole thing. They create their own music, which goes back to what I said before about having that connection with rhythm and music. I guess that’s why I love it so much.
You’re one of the busiest people I know, do you wish you had more time to dance for yourself?
What’s the sense of achievement like when you see your dancers perform?
Ha! That depends how they perform! Honestly though, it’s hard to sum it up in one sentence. For me as a teacher their final performance is my end goal, so if they’ve achieved that well I feel like I’ve done my job. Also, if they look professional, I know it’s not only appreciated by me but by the audience too. One person’s full potential will be completely different to another. If they’ve achieved what they can that is my job.
It’s like no other feeling, probably the best feeling in the world.
What’s it like choreographing a class of 30 kids?
I think you have to think about your formation very carefully. Also another thing to take into consideration is where they’ll be performing. It can get to the point where, if you get the wrong formation, you can have dancers off the side of the stage or too squished together. It’s a challenge.
Do you improvise often?
Yes, to a certain extent. I mean, if I do, I have to have a fixed idea in my head of where something is going. I wouldn’t do something for the hell of it. I’m a perfectionist, it has to be on point, and if I don’t think carefully about my steps or if I’m unsure of how it’ll look then I won’t do it. It has to lead somewhere; it has to have an ending.
Do you think that photography can represent dance movement well?
Some photographers don’t get the right shots, I’ve found that they tend to miss the key moments in a dance. If you have a background in dance, you get a sense of when a jump or a leap is going to happen so you can guess when that vital photographic moment will be and take a better represented image.