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Category: Uncategorized

Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical

As I sat waiting in trepidation, the green hues of the lights and the sea of ogre ear headbands had already begun to transport me to a land far, far, away. Even the stage curtain was that of a forest canopy. The scene was set! I wasn’t sure how one of the most loved computer animated movies was going to transpire to the stage. Would the writers and creative directors be able to pull it off?! Only time would tell.

In classic fairytale style, a gigantic story book magically opened before our eyes, with the characters seemingly appearing from nowhere. It told the story of a young Shrek, and how he came to be on his own in the swamp. Away with the book, it was time for the real story to begin.

Shrek in the film is such a loveable rogue, brought to life by the incredibly talented Mike Myers. His voice and mannerisms are the very fibres of the character, so how would it be to watch an actor? Would it feel like the actor was simply imitating?! I needn’t have worried. Steffan Harri plays a wonderful Shrek, making the character truly his own, almost, if not, more loveable than the animated version. His ogre game is strong.

Every hero needs a side kick, and boy do you get a kick out of Doneky! Marcus Aynton is the best ass ever to have tread the boards! His comedic timing and one liners make him an instant hit with the children, with the writers even throwing a few adult jokes in that are well over the little ones heads, they’ll be too captivated with Donkey’s slick dance moves!

Princess Fiona is played by non other than ‘Call the Midwife’ actress Laura Main. When we first meet her, she is every inch the traditional princess with her fiery long locks and emerald green dress, but as we get to know her more, she really comes out of herself. I guess having freedom after all that time locked in a tower will do funny things to you! Laura brings real grit and a toughness to Fiona that makes you warm to her instantly. Her voice packs a powerful punch, knocking sweet singing birds out of their nests no less and the campfire scene where she has a – let’s just say ‘windy’ competition with Shrek, is pure comedy gold. Toilet humour never fails to crack a smile!

That’s not even the funniest part. Lord Farquaaaaad, played by Samual Holmes, wins the funniest performance award hands down! What he is lacking in stature, he most certainly makes up for in laughs! With the help of some very clever wardrobe tricks and facial expressions to rival that of Jim Carey, you only need to look at him to be amused, and that’s all I’m going to say about it, I don’t want to spoil it for you!

As for the rest of the multitasking cast, I’m tired just watching them!They play various familiar story book characters as well as soldiers, village people, tap dancing rats and 3 particular mice one can only assume were blinded by their own sassiness. Some of their costume changes must have been similar to that of a magicians assistant who steps behind the curtain and out the other side with a completely different ensemble! Their signing, acting and dancing skills are put to the test with each number being so different in style and genre and to pull it off so well is a sign of a true professional.

What I especially liked, being a theatre geek, are all the tiny references to some of the other great musicals around – a trademark dance move here or there, familiar lyrics hidden within a song, and a certain flag flying high to mention a few. Watch closely and see how many you can spot!

All in all, it’s the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in a long time. The joy every single one of the cast is having whilst on that stage is almost tangible, and that transfers to the audience in a way similar to that of a panto – boo and hisses, cheers, cued laughter and up out of your seat dancing to the finale song to finish on a high! Whatever your age, young and old, children and adults alike will not fail to be entertained. It’s such a family affair, I can well see this becoming a tradition for many. Bonding, building fond memories and laughing – lots of laughing, crying with laughter, together. That’s what theatre is all about after all. So follow in the footsteps of Shrek and Fiona, Donkey and Dragon and all the story book folk, embrace your weirdness and find your happily ever after that begins with watching Shrek the Musical.

The show will be staying at the Manchester Palace Theatre untill 28th January. You can book your tickets using this link or telephone number below. https://atgtickets.com/manchester/

Tel:0844 871 3019

The rest of the tour dates can be found on the website https://shrekthemusical.co.uk/

Special thanks to the Palace Theatre Manchester and We Blog North for my first press night. I had a blast, but next time I’ll have my own novelty headband ready!

Dance Niche

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Dancing Icons – Dame Darcey Bussell

Dancing Icons – Dame Darcey Bussell

Darcey Bussell has become a household name of late, chasséing her way into our homes (and our hearts) every weekend, thanks to being one of 4 judges on the glitziest tv show around – Strictly Come Dancing. She judges fairly, with eloquence and always with constructive criticism, making sure she ends on a positive note as not to dishearten the dancing celebrities, keeping them encouraged. She has firmly taken the seat as not only one of the most likeable and sincere judges, but as one of the nations sweethearts. A rare accolade indeed. But many of the younger viewers may not know the Darcey that we, as dancers, know and adore. So let’s delve a little into her life story.

Darcey – born Marnie Mercedes Darcey Pemberton Crittle, joined the Royal Ballet lower school ages 13, where she progressed to through the upper school before joining the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet (now known as Birmingham Royal Ballet) in 1987. Darcey was hailed for her clean and precise technique, so it’s not surprising that in 1988, she had a lead role written for her, which is when she moved to the Royal Ballet and promoted to principal dancer at the tender age of only 20, becoming their youngest principal dancer at the time.

Darcey danced many of the well known leading roles including Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty, and and the Swan princess in Swan Lake. My personal favourite role she played was that of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker – the qualities she brought to that role are exquisite! Another favourite was a sketch she did with comedienne Dawn French, where they danced the infamous ‘mirror dance’. It is hugely entertaining, and really shows Darcey’s wonderful personality and not taking herself too seriously! If you haven’t watched it, here’s a link, you’re welcome! https://youtu.be/UyIMLz_jRbI

In 2007, she retired from ballet, with her last performance of Song of the Earth, and received an 8 minute standing ovation! Dame Darcey is still very much involved in the dance world, despite her retirement. Not only is she one quarter of the Strictly judging panel, she is also President of the Royal Academy of Dance. Being quite the creative, she wrote a series of children’s books called ‘Magic Ballerina’ , about an aspiring ballerina who discovers her shoes are magical! She has also recently launched ‘DDMix’ Diverse Dance Mix, a dance based fitness regimes in which she pulls inspiration and moves from dances all over the world. She is passionate about getting people moving and enjoying dance!

Her most recent accolade, was being named in the Queen’s New Years Honours list, receiving an OBE and her title of Dame, which is hugely fitting. She said “I gratefully accept it on behalf of all the dance organisations that I am so fortunate to be part of. Dance is such a beautiful art form, it is inspiring and provides joy, social cohesion and wellbeing.” and we couldn’t agree more.

So here’s to Dame Darcey, congratulations, and long may you continue to enrich lives through inspiring others to dance.

Dance Niche

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TECHNIQUE vs PERFORMANCE – Are we losing the art of dancing?

TECHNIQUE vs PERFORMANCE – Are we losing the art of dancing?

This is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, and is a fairly controversial topic, as there will always be strong views for either side. Before I continue, I’d just like to say that I am in no way advocating poor technique, or the lack of, as we all know technique and good form help keep us as dancers safe and injury free. It’s more to do with current trends in the dance world and of course, personal opinions will always come into play.

With the rise of social media, National T.V competitions and reality shows, dance – and dancers, have been projected not only into the lime light, but into the lives of young aspiring dancers everywhere. They follow their favourite dancers week by week, voting for them to get through to the next stage. They follow their social media accounts with enthusiasm, marvelling at each new pose they post. Instagram has a particularly large and influential dance community, as t.v and professional dancers from all over the world display their craft. Professionals. People who have spent years upon years honing and perfecting their craft with complete and total dedication. And of course much like you and I, they only post the very best photos, the ones that are timed just right to get that perfect shot, the grande jete beyond 180 degrees, the developpe a la seconde by their ear, and the ever popular ‘crotch shot’ aka side tilt, which seems to be as common as leg warmers in the movie Fame! In fact, it’s that common, and some say distasteful, that it has its own hashtag ‘#stopthecrotchshot

We live in a world where how many ‘likes’ your photo receives, dictates how good you are as a dancer. So naturally, young dancers are wanting to emulate the idols they follow, and post the best dance pose they can, hoping to rack up the likes. This has also transpired into choreography. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. More and more I see dancers at festivals show off their acquired skills, one into another, into another, but it’s getting to the point where they are almost showing off. Yes, of course, that’s what they are aiming for. They want to wow the audience and adjudicators with the amazing tricks and displays of hyper flexibility, however these elements are beginning to roll into one another, BAM, BAM, BAM! Quite often, these are the dancers that are placed. The ones who thrill us with their continual display of talent. But is it that thrilling?!

For me, Dance has always been about telling a story, being able to dance with such emotion that the audience pick up on the vibrations, making the hairs on their arms stand on end. You know the exact feeling I’m talking about. A good dancer can move you to tears. It’s part of the magic. You feel like you’ve been let into a private moment. It’s intoxicating, and leaves you wanting more. Can this simply be achieved by a display of capability? I think not. Don’t get me wrong, a well placed trick or element can really add a spectacular highlight to the dance, but it’s more than that. What about the steps in between, the facial expressions to convey the feeling, a well placed pause, a moment of stillness can hold so much tension and captivate an audience so much so the atmosphere is almost tangible. This is the true art of dance surely. To be able to give yourself so fully to a piece, to bare your soul, that the audience are able to re tell the story back, as they live it with you. Martha Graham famously said “great dancers are not great because of their talent. They are great because of their passion” and I think that speaks volumes.

But this doesn’t stop at tricks, and here’s where I could become unpopular with my view, it can also be true of actual technique too. Let’s set the scene……….local dance festival, lots of competitors in a section. There’s that one girl who has been genetically blessed for Dance……..the almost flat turn out, legs for days with slight hyperextended knees giving beautiful lines, feet that arch like bananas, and all the grace and beauty of any prima ballerina that has passed. But she lacks something. That spark behind her eyes, the fire in her belly, the calling from deep within her soul. She dances because she is good at it, REALLY good, but what drives her? Does she perform and project? No, she is selfish with her performance, and has a face like she’s simply stood waiting for a bus. Dare I say it………perhaps slightly boring! Cue the girl that isn’t so genetically blessed. Her legs aren’t as long, she doesn’t have the best turn out but she works with what she’s got and she pointed her feet as much as they allow, but she has something special. She has that ‘X’ factor. She doesn’t want to dance, she needs to. Her face visibly comes alive as soon as she steps on the stage and the audience know instantly they’re in for a treat. She captivated them so much, you can hear a pin drop. It’s also visible when you watch a group dance. There will always be that one dancer who catches your eye whether they are at the front or back. They catch your eye because they perform! They use their face as well as their body. They dance with such passion that it oozes from ever pore. It’s what an audience want to see. They want to watch someone who is interesting and intriguing, who’s fire burns so brightly they too can feel the heat and they get that all over tingling sensation that brings tears to your eyes. Someone who moves them when they dance. It’s echoed very much in the computer animated film ‘Ballerina‘(or Leap if you’re in the U.S) Effectively a battle between a talented girl who’s danced all her life, but dances because that’s what she’s always done, and a girl who has dreamed of being a dancer but wasn’t given the same opportunities, but her passion and determination she’s her through. It makes such a good story, because it’s a true one, “nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

So who would win? Ultimately, it’s down to the individual adjudicators, and again, this varies. Some favour perfect technique over performance, but I will always be swayed by that special something a dancer gives. In a perfect world, a dancer would have both, and these rare creatures are the ones that make it pro, all the way to the top, but they are just that, a rarity. Don’t let that stop you though, there is a growing trend in the dance world. Things are changing, slowly, but for the better. Companies are beginning to hire different dancers, differently by age, build race, but that’s a whole other blog post………

So what is your opinion? Which camp do you lie? Are you Team Felice or Team Camille? Content or creativity?

Dance Niche

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Ballet classics – The Nutcracker

Ballet classics – The Nutcracker

(Karla Doorbar as Clara; photo: Roy Smiljanic)

Nothing says Christmas more to dancers than The Nutcracker. Companies all over the world look forward to putting on their own production, with it being the highlight of the year. The Nutcracker is to ballet what Jack and the Beanstalk is to pantos – a deep set tradition, with just as much magic and adventure, that many look forward to every year. If you aren’t too familiar with the story, read on and you’ll be a Nutcracker pro in no time!

Premiering in 1892, it was adapted from E.T.A Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lee Ivanov, with a score from the great Pyotr Tchaikovsky (who also composed music for Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake). Like most long standing productions, the details and the story differ slightly from place to place, but here’s the one that is most familiar.

(Karla Doorbar as Clara, Angela Paul as Clara’s Mother and Rory Mackay as Drosselmeyer; photo: Andrew Ross)

The scene is set on Christmas Eve in young girls family home, Clara, where the Christmas tree has been decorated and the children stand in awe of it. As the clock strikes 8pm, Drosselmeyer, Clara’s Godfather, local councilman and magician appears, with gifts for all the children. Clara particularly falls in love with a wooden Nutcracker carved in the shape of a solider. Fritz – Clara’s brother, breaks it, (typical sibling rivalry I’d say) and Clara is heartbroken.

(Rachael Gillespie as Clara curtesy of Northern Ballet)

During the night, Clara goes back downstairs to see the broken Nutcracker again (does she not know that Father Christmas only visits when all children are asleep?!) As she reaches for it, the clock strikes 12 midnight, mice flood the room, the tree begins to grow as does the Nutcracker! Suddenly Clara finds herself in the middle of a battle between gingerbread men soldiers led by the Nutcracker, and the army of mice led by the Mouse King.

(Jonathan Caguioa as the Nutcracker Doll and Yasuo Atsuji as King Rat with Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as Rats; photo: Andrew Ross)

The mice begin eating away at the gingerbread men (well they are super tasty). As it looks like the Mouse army are winning, Clara throws her slipper at the Mouse King, giving the Nutcracker an opportunity to stab him (always so violent, does it need a disclaimer?) The mice retreat and the Nutcracker transforms into a Prince, who takes Clara through a pine forest towards his kingdom. Magical snowflakes dance all around them

(Jenna Roberts as the Snow Fairy with Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo: Bill Cooper)

Act II sees the pair enter the magical Land of sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy (perhaps this is where Willy Wonka got his inspiration from?) To celebrate the victory and to thank Clara for her help, the Sugar Plum Fairy enlists the help from sweets all over the world, who each perform for the pair, including the famous dance of the Plum Fairy.

(Yaoqian Shang as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker; photo: Bill Copper)

As the celebrations draw to a close, Clara and the Nutcracker are lead to a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Everyone waves them off on their journey, much like wedding guests to newly wed couples, and this ends the production, although there are multiple alternative endings around.

(Company dancers photo curtesy of Northern Ballet)

With such a magical, enthralling story, enough sweets to send the kids climbing the walls on a sugar high, and a heroine little girls would dream to be, The Nutcracker is a wonderful way to introduce young children to the ballet world and the theatre, and would also make a wonderful family tradition to watch it year after year.

(Image courtesy of The Scottish Ballet company www.scottishballet.co.uk )

Disney must appreciate the magic of Nutcracker, as they are currently producing a live action adaptation – The Nutcracker and the Four Relms, due to be realised November 2018, just in time for the festive season (top marks Disney) which promises to be every bit as magical as the ballet, if not more. Definitely one to put on your calendars for next year! Watch the official trailer here https://www.facebook.com/DisneyUK/videos/654986464672105/

So, the little ones are tucked up in bed, while visions of sugar plums – hopefully not evil mice kings being stabbed to death – dance in their heads, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and supporting this blog, this is my dream coming to life and I’m hugely honoured and grateful to have you all share it with me. There’s only one thing left to say…….

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all goodnight!”

See you in the New Year,

Dance Niche

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Leap of faith.

Leap of faith.

I have some exciting news!

On Wednesday evening, I shall be teaching my first class! Little old me, a teacher! Eeeeeek! The class in question is our adult Urban class, so it’s full of very familiar faces, my dance friends. Does this make me more nervous? Hell yes! But I know it shouldn’t. They are all hugely supportive, and kind and funny and enthusiastic. We really are like a little family. So how did this come about you may ask? Our teacher/friend is expecting her first child. She teaches dance and fitness classes throughout the day, and now the time has come for her to start scaling back in preparation. Urban is one of those classes. We do have a particular ‘style’  and we have had a substitute teacher on a trial basis, but unfortunately, it was not what we were used to. Humans are creatures of habit! So the dilemma being, if we had no one to take the class, the class would have to be cancelled until after the baby arrives. We were all a little sad at that prospect. So it was proposed that I trail taking the class this week, after all, I should definitely know our style by now! 

This past week, I’ve been listening to the radio and chose a track, “levels” by Nick Jonas, it has a great beat to it, and started doing some choreography. I’ve actually really enjoyed it! Which surprised me as in my younger days, ‘own choreography’ was the worst section for me, that and impromptu’ but that’s a whole other blog! I’ve enjoyed it that much, that I’ve now taken steps to become a certified teacher! I’m going to be doing my IDTA Level 4 Diploma in ballet, and I can’t tell you how excited that makes me! This means, I will always have dance in my life, no matter how old I am! It means I can to really get to grips with my passion, ballet, and hopefully share and spread that passion to children and young adults! It’s a huge responsibility, but it’s one that I feel I can do justice to. Because dance is not just about technique. Yes it plays a huge part in dance and to be able to execute it safely, but for me, the most important aspect of dance, is feeling. It’s being able to express and portray emotions using your body as the medium. To be able to create that atmosphere that the audience can physically feel and makes their hairs stand on end. That’s a dancer’s true job. “dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion” – Martha Graham.

And this is what I hope to instil in my future students. I feel like this maybe some sort of life calling, that I hadn’t realised until now. Life works in funny ways like that. Things will materialise for you at precisely the right time in your life, it’s no coincidence.  It’s doesn’t matter if your 16 finishing school and have no idea where you see yourself heading. It doesn’t matter if you’re middle aged, stuck in a continuous ground hog day with no fulfilment. When you are ready, something amazing will come along, shake your soul and lead you to the right path, you just have to trust in it. If you’d have told me 3 years ago when I first returned to dance class, that I’d now be teaching a class and studying ballet, I would have laughed in your face! “If someone offers you an opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes and learn how to do it later” – Richard Branson. 

There will always be self doubt, but life is about taking chances, learning from mistakes and bettering ourselves. Be your own cheerleader. Believe in your qualities and have the courage to seek out new opportunities in life, you won’t regret it.

Alicia 💗

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A New Chapter………….

A New Chapter………….

Hello, me again! 👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻

I bet you’ve forgotten who I am?! Sorry about that! You’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve been getting on with life! I still have ups and downs, who doesn’t?! Thus is true family life! And would the highs feel as enlightening as they do if we didn’t have the occasional low every now and again to contrast? I’m not sure they would.

I originally started this blog just for me, as a way to document and help make sense of my feelings and emotions at what was a difficult time in my life. I’m quite a closed person really, I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about troubles, but writing it seemed to help me vent and process and mend. It worked, and I found the need to blog or vent, less and less and just got on with things.IMG_0566

One thing that really helped me, and still does, is exercise, particularly dance. One of my previous blog posts was about self love.  Self love Running, yoga and starting dance classes again really helped me to remember who I am, not just ‘mummy’. Which, of course, is THE most important job, but you cannot pour from an empty cup, and dance is what keeps my cup nice and full, like when you have the unlimited latte option at soft play centres ☕️☕️☕️☕️

We all need that unlimited top up option in our lives, whatever it may be for you. Exercise like running or going to the gym, taking up art classes, shopping, appearance, or simply having an hour to yourself with a good book or magazine. It’s whatever floats your boat so to speak. Find what keeps you buoyant, what makes you feel good, what gives you that spark in your belly and don’t let go. Indulge your new found hobby, not only will it make you feel good but in turn you’ll become a better mother, wife, partner, friend, as you’ll be able to give them the very best version of yourself, your cup will soon be overflowing! IMG_0671

So, here it is, my new chapter. I’m steering my blog boat to a new destination, a port that has given me a new purpose, new friends, and a renewed determination. Dance. My posts will be about my journey back to dance, which I feel is my swan song, my soul food. I find it so easy to talk, discuss and share all things dance, as I’m so passionate about it. I hope you will all continue with me on my journey, and maybe even find your own swan song along the way!

Much love from your aspiring Oddette,

Alicia 💗 FullSizeRender 2

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Self love

Self love

Last weekend, I went out to celebrate an engagement. Despite my initial knee jerk reaction to hide in bed and have an early night (parenting does that to you 😴😴😴😴) I gave myself a talking to, made an effort to have a shower and actually do my hair, and went to be social. And boy am I glad I did!! I had the most wonderful evening! Chatting to friends, who some I haven’t seen in years, and it wasn’t once awkward or stilted, but that may have had something to do with the free prosecco that was flowing a little too easily!!  

I was reminded of the woman I was pre children, the woman I still am today, but she quietly takes a back seat whilst I do the most important job I’ll ever do, taking care of my girls, being a mum.

Being a parent is the most rewarding job in the world, but it is also the most consuming and overwhelming. Sometimes I can be so busy, I realise I haven’t eaten yet, or I frequently put off having a shower purely because I don’t have the time. But it is so important to look after yourself. The grass is greener where you water it. In other words, if I have looked after myself, I am better and more able to be a better mother. More Mary Poppins and less the Incredible Hulk. Although after the 100th time of being asked the same question inside 5 minutes, the Hulk needs serious control!!!!

I went out and enjoyed myself. I didn’t feel guilty about it one bit. I received comments and lapped them up. Perticularly on my hair, which I refrained from replying that’s it’s actually because I’d washed and blow dried it. It hadn’t been that long had it?!

Jokes aside, I’m so glad I went. Not only to congratulate my friends on their commitment to each other, but because I feel I can give my all to the other aspects in my life, be a better mother, wife, friend. Please please don’t neglect yourself. Self love is not narcissistic or self indulgent, it’s imperative. So next time you feel like turning down a social event, whether it’s a daytime coffee or full blown night out, accept it, your inner self will thank you for it 💗

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Go go go!

Go go go!

So I haven’t blogged in a while??? Why??? Because life had simply got in the way! But you know what?? I’m OK with it. I’ve definitely noticed that my harder days are getting fewer and father between (not around that special time when Mother Nature calls, then I’m like a woman posesed) and the good days are more consistent and happy, and well, more like the old ME! The me before I had responsibilities, and 2 beautiful children who depend on me to wipe their bums when they can’t be bothered and laugh at their jokes they just made up in the spot that don’t even make sense!

I decided to invest in ME. My work/life balance was poo, my diet was poo, and I believe you get out what you put in, so I had to change. I LOVE going to my dance classes, but between mine and my husbands work schedule, I hadn’t been able to go as much as I wanted. It made me sad. It was my one thing that I did purely for me and I wasn’t even able to do it!  So I decided to take up running as I could fit it in whenever I had the time and it was easy to plan around the girls. I say running, at first it was more like a shuffle. I was a definite novice. I wouldn’t even run for a bus previously, never mind running in public! I had visions of my looking like Phoebe from Friends, arms and legs helplessly flailing around and getting no where fast! 

The hubby bought all my gear for me and helped plan my route for my first run, 2k, down by the river and back. I had to bite the bullet. I was very nervous of running when other people might see me. Would they judge? Laugh even?? I just went for it otherwise I was close to talking myself out of it! And you know what?! It wasn’t half as bad as I expected! Yes ami passed a dog walker and a few cars in the road, but they are concentrating on what THEY are doing. They don’t care what you’re doing, what you look like and how fast you’re going. I was pleasantly surprised! And what surprised me more was that I actually felt GOOD.  

 Over the last few weeks I’ve slowly built up my distance and pace. I’ve even signed up for my first 5k event! I can’t wait!! I’m actually really excited! And what’s more, running has really helped me focus on what’s important. Having that time to clear my head, be in the fresh air and just take in the world. It sounds corny I know, but it’s true. You have to open your eyes and appreciate what’s all around you, and in turn you feel better. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins, the little thingies that make us feel goo inside. And it really does!! You don’t have to run. Go out for a walk. Go to the park. Go fishing. Whatever you fancy. Just do it now, you’ll feel 100% better for it!! 

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Light at the end of the tunnel

Light at the end of the tunnel

Today I was so proud of myself!! My husband and brother in law were running in the Chester half Marathon. I was to drive in on my own with both the girls and meet up with my mother inlaw, sister in law and my lovely little niece who’s 1. I felt a bit anxious about it all. About finding somewhere to park, about the huge crowds of people, about pushing Amelia in the pushchair through those crowds whilst keeping Sofia safe beside me. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all.

I have to admit, I rarely venture out with the children by myself, unless it’s to the local park, or school run or generally somwhere where there’s not many other people around. I think of all the stressful things that could go wrong. I think of all the people who simply don’t have any spacial awareness and stop dead right in front of you, then proceed to give you disapproving looks when you inadvertently ram their heels with the pushchair. Well I’m not a mind reader and maybe I wish I’d rammed them a bit harder! I think of all the people who don’t look down and see my petite 4 year old struggling to hang on to the pushchair because everyone’s barging past her with enough force to move a bulldozer. And then I think of how easy it would be for someone to take advantage of my situation and take Sofia away from me. Slightly irrational, I know, but it DOES happen. The mothers always stating “she was right beside me then the next thing she was gone”. Gone into a sea of people that when ladened on my own with a pushchair full of shopping and my other precious child, I’d be powerless to do anything about. It scares me. So I completely avoid those situations if I can.

But today was different. Before today, I have tried going to the local market or modest shopping centre with the girls and physically have to psyche myself up. A big job. And every time, I survived but so glad to get home, that it was over and I didn’t have to experience that again for a while. Exactly what was different about today, I’m not sure. I went to bed last night with the familiar knots in my tummy, over thinking all the things that could go awry the next day. But when this morning came, I was surprisingly ok. Apart from the panic that I thought we were going to be late, it went fine. We parked at the park and ride, got on the bus, got off and walked to the finish line without a hitch. Managed to meet up with where the inlaws were and keep the girls happy. It helped I had cupcakes with me!

And then I surprised myself. It was fairly crowded where we were stood and I couldn’t get the pushchair near the barrier. Not wanting the girls to miss out on spotting their superhero daddy run past, I thought it be a good idea for me to go further up the road to see if I could find a better spot. So finally with adult support and I was willing to go it alone with the girls, into the sea of people to improve our view spot. And just a few yards down we managed to find a better spot and the family came to join us. I actually smiled to myself at my small accomplishment! It certainly helped the girls were good as gold today. Sofia was so complicent to everything I asked of her and Amelia was content at being in her pushchair, again, I had a copious amount of cupcakes!  

We spotted Glyn run past. I’ve never heard the girls shout so loudly or wave so enthusiastically!!! I could have cried! And then I did it again. I set off to find Glyn. Glyn’s mum came with me this time, which I’m always glad of, but I can honestly say that even if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have minded.  

 I really feel like I’ve turned a corner today. That something’s changed inside me. I wasn’t stressed in the least little bit. Perhaps that’s why the girls were so good. Perhaps in the past they have picked up only anxieties which makes them act up. Perhaps it’s the fact that I have gone out with the girls on a few occasions so it all felt a little more familiar, a little more normal. I think that it was me that made the difference in today. I accepted the challenge and rose to it. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel. As today when so well, I feel filled with confidence for our next outing. I feel like I WANT to take them out only own again. That I can actually enjoy it instead of stressing over every little thing. This excites me. It broadens the range of places we can go, the things we can see and do. And this will surely enrich their lives and in turn, make me a better mummy for allowing them to have those experiences. All because I now feel I don’t have to wait until some else is free before we can go anywhere. The world is our oyster! Well maybe just stick to Chester for know. One step at a time! 

 

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Working girl

Working girl

Mondays are my usual working day as a mobile beautician and nail technician. My mum comes up to ours and looks after the girls for me until  Glyn arrives back from work to take over. I try and squeeze as many clients in on a Monday as I can, as I know I have the childcare. I also have another day in the week,  not as busy, just used for any appointments that couldn’t be fit into the Monday. The girls go off to Glyn’s parents house on that day.
Now, on a Monday, I usually have just enough time to drop Sofia off at school, come back, pack my bags and prepare my lunch, dinner and snacks for the day. Brings a whole meaning to meals on wheels! Then I’m out the door as soon as my mum arrives to take care of Amelia. I don’t return until late evening. My mum does a couple of jobs for me around the house during the day, but let’s face it, cleaning with children around is like brushing your teeth whilst eating Oreo biscuits! And Glyn does what he can when he gets in, but the girls usually have swimming practice on Monday evenings, and tea-bath-bed routine is the most hectic of them all.

I often come home and see a list of jobs that I have to do the next day before I’ve even gone to sleep! And not that it would be hugely noticeable to anyone else, it’s all I see and it’s consuming! Talk about  throwing the towel in before you’ve even started, but that would just add to the list!

Tuesdays are a double edge sword. I’m tied between doing all the jobs that need doing and spending some quality time with my girls, drawing, playing, snuggling, all the things that I missed out on the day before. I can’t win. There’s a meme with 3 choices; happy children, clean house, and sanity. You can only choose 2. This is me on a Tuesday. It’s a battle. If I do all the chores, I have satisfaction of a tidy house and clarity of mind that it brings, yet feel insanely guilty for letting the girls be babysat by the TV. On the other hand, if I spend the time with the girls, the house looks increasingly like a bomb site as the hours go by, and if visitors come by, I’ll feel like hiding in the bath as apposed to letting them in. That’s if they could get in over the sea of toys!

So I’m often left feeling completely flat and unmotivated, like today. And there’s only one thing for it, chocolate, snuggles and lots of Disney movies with the girls. The house can wait till tomorrow, I’m busy loving my girls. Just don’t come round to visit on a Tuesday, you won’t get past the door!

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Super Saturdays!

Super Saturdays!

Now that my girls are getting older 4 and 2 1/2 (and that 6 months makes ALL the difference to toddlers), I’ve been wanting to do something with the girls that they will remember in years to come. Something they can look back on and fondly remember the fun we all had together and perhaps, when they have their own children, want to do they same or something similar. I wanted to start our own little tradition.

Traditions are something that are important to me. For example, I love the fact that my mum waits for a day where my 2 sisters and I are all free to decorate the Christmas tree, even though we are 31,29 and 26 respectively and I live an hour away. But traditions aren’t just for Christmas or special times of the year, they can be anything at any time, and that’s the beauty of it. Doing something on a regular basis can become a tradition.

I am a girly girl by nature. I love pink and pastel colours, fluffy animals, make up and doing my nails (helps I’m a nail technician!) so I was delighted when as my girls personalities blossomed, it became apparent that they shared the same interests too. And I in now way forced it upon them. We bought trains and tool boxes as much as barbies and ponies, but the latter is what they preferred to play with the most. So this being their preference, I decided to indulge in it.

Weekdays are always pretty busy for us with school drop offs, hobbies and my work, so I picked a Saturday morning for our little tradition to happen. I felt like it would signify the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend for them. I also wanted to incorporate doing their nails into it. Partly because Sofia loves having her nails painted and partly because Amelia had started getting into the habit of biting her nails. And I don’t mean the odd nibble, I mean painfully short to the point the na bed was being exposed. So I thought I could encourage her to look after them by having them painted on a regular basis.

One evening, Sofia wanted to watch ‘The Little Mermaid’. It was almost bedtime so there was no chance that day, but I promised her we could in the morning, As it was Saturday and we didn’t have to be up and out early. For some reason, I decided to put French braids in her hair that night, so she could wake up the next morning with ‘mermaid’ hair.

She woke up the next morning and bounced through to our room. She squealed in delight at her now wavy hair and immediately went to dig out her mermaid costume. Poor Amelia doesn’t have one, so she had to settle for one of those poncho towels with a mermaids body on it. She wasn’t bothered! We went through to the lounge and I put the film on for them. We all snuggled on the sofa to watch it, only interrupted by the outburst of a song, or them wanting to act out a certain scene. Of course I had to oblige and join in! After, I painted their nails in suitable mermaid colours and we even had ‘starfish’ egg on toast for breakfast. It’s amazing what you can so when you’ve got a draw full of various cookie cutters!

And so it was born, our ‘Super Saytudays’. A morning around a theme of their choice, be that a film or book or character. A morning of dressing up and playing make believe. A morning of magic. And for me, a morning of escaping real life. It’s so much fun to be 4 and 2 1/2!  Of course, they won’t always be this age. Before I know it they will be teenagers with very different ideas of what fun is, but I hope our ‘Super Saturdays’ will always be that, whether that be pretending to be mermaids or a shopping trip and lunch. But for now, I’m more than happy to be Eric to their Ariel. I already know the words after all! 

       

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Bank Holiday Blues

Bank Holiday Blues

We all work hard all week, and count down to the weekend. A weekend of lazy morning cuddles in bed, leisurely breakfasts with the whole family and pjs till midday. Even more so when it’s a Bank Holiday weekend! Oh the excitement for what’s in store on the very special extra day off!!! Ours turned out to be a bit of a wash out, and it was nothing to do with the Great Britiah Weather!

Our family life is pretty busy day to day. Non more so then for my husband. Life as a successful Chartered Accountant is never ending. 3 days a week he’s in the local office and the other 2 are spent taking care of the office in Manchester, meaning in those days he doesn’t get to see the girls as he leaves before they get up and arrives back after bedtime. The drive itself must be mentally exhausting, and that’s before he has to sit at a screen with hundreds of figures in front of him, trying to save companies hundreds and thousands of pounds. Even when he gets home and on weekends, he is still answering work related emails that simply cannot wait. Not many make it to the level he is at purely because of the work load, deadlines and stress! What I do in a day is nothing compared to him, and he does it for us, to give us a better life.

We are currently in the middle of having an extension on our house, well more like half a house at the moment! When Glyn isn’t working, there’s physical jobs he has to get done. I mean, ladder climbing, tile placing, knocking down walls kind of jobs! Although give me a sledge hammer after a stressful day with the girls, and I’d have it down in a jiffy! When there’s a spare day that we’re not visiting someone, or don’t have commitments, it’s spent at home doing other vital jobs to get the house finished. Jon Snow knows that “winter is coming” and if our past summers are anything to go by, winter will be here before we know it!

This weekend, we had nothing specific organised. We had a do to go to on Saturday night but that was it. So after picking the girls up from their grandparents, we spent the rest of Sunday unpacking our overnight bags, doing little chores and trying to finish that Frozen jigsaw the girls for at Christmas only to find we were a piece missing!!! Dinner time came and went and before we knew it the girls were in bed and we were snuggled up on the sofa. Bank Holiday Monday was the topic of conversation. It didn’t go well. 

Glyn didn’t really fancy going anywhere special as there would undoubtably be traffic, and he was tired. He just wanted to relax at home and spend time with the girls. The thought of spending another day sat at home killed me, drove me insane! I spend 90% of my time in our little unfinished house, and not to sound ungrateful, but it really affects your mood! I just wanted to go out, spend quality time with my little family doing things that people do on Bank Holidays! Is that so selfish? But then I think of how hard Glyn works all of the time. I can’t begrudge him 1 day off to slouch around the house. Everyone needs a day like that, right? 

So it ended on a sour note. I hate it when we don’t get along. We just couldn’t agree on this topic. I felt guilty for trying to deny Gltn of some much needed down time. I felt guilty of the fact that we hadn’t taken the girls somewhere, to experience something, so they could tell the teacher about all about it the next day. I felt guilty for wasting a precious day of us all being together. Being a Mummy sure makes you feel guilty a lot!! And I felt angry. Angry withy self for feeling so guilty over everything andet it spoil the mood for the rest of the day. 

Do we put too much pressure on ourselves to do ‘something’ on days like Bank Holidays? To do something so awesome that the girls can’t wait to tell everyone in school about and will remember it for years to come. To compete with the other super mums, who take their children on day trips all over the country!! But I’ll tell you this, my girls are happy. They don’t care if they haven’t been to Lego Land, or Peppa Pig World. They care that their parents have spent time with them, regardless of wether that’s in some theme park miles away, or spent in the four walls that they call home. They care that we had special snuggles on the sofa, watching a Disney movie for the hundredth time. They care that we turned the whole house upside down and found the missing piece of jigsaw so they could finally complete it! Didn’t matter that I had to clean it all up again, it was worth it to see their delighted faces at finding Elsa’s hand and putting it in place. 

Next time we have a precious day off, I’m not going to beat myself up on the fact that we didn’t do something exciting, but be happy in the fact we spent it together as a little unit, as days like that in a busy family are few and far between. You can make memories anywhere, but all they will remember is that you were with them, and that’s what they will treasure the most. 💗

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The truth hurts

The truth hurts

Today I woke up not exactly in a good mood. You could say ‘I got out the wrong side of bed’, but truth is, I was so far from the “right side” that I could have been sleeping in the bath tub! And equally as uncomfortable. I made Grumpy look more like Little Miss Sunshine! And the worst thing is, I have no idea why! Nothing had happened that morning, I’d had an uninterrupted nights sleep, and it wasn’t time of the month. 

As a mummy, life goes on. No time for pep talks, or reassuring hugs from the hubby! I had 2 hungry beagles to feed who act every time like they haven’t eaten for weeks, 2 children to make breakfast for, trying to keep it together while they informed me they had the wrong bowl or they didnt like “magic hoops’ anymore, even though it was their favourite yesterday! And trying to coax them to get dressed is exhausting when you already have no patience! But the worst part is the anxiety of seeing someone you know at the school gates and have to pretend to be ok. To paint on a smile and hope they don’t see through your facade. THAT is what is most exhausting.

Before I had my 2 gorgeous, funny, creative, angelic, intelligent daughters (they get all that from me obvs) I was Little Miss Sunshine. I always had a smile on my face, a spring in my step and was the embodiment of optimism! I lived my life as if it was straight out of the pages from a Beatrix Potter book. I was everyone’s go to friend if they needed cheering up. My first daughter, Sofia came along, and nothing changed. When Amelia came along, everything changed. I found it hard to adjust to having two children, running a household, building up my mobile business and being the dutiful wife I thought (but wasn’t expected) to be. I was last on the list. 

After the first year, I hardly recognised myself. Hair and make up had made way for an extra 5 minutes in bed. I was irritable, fretful, short fused. The mamouth task of leaving the house and going out with a toddler and a baby filled me so much with dread, I didn’t bother. I’d only forget something anyway! But I had to keep this all under wraps, heavens forbid that my cheerful demener should slip. I was my own worst enemy. I was hard in myself for feeling like that when I had 2 very presciuos things that some people never get. I felt guilty for feeling that way, when I had no reason to, and that in itself made me feel worse! And all this without telling a sole. I didn’t want anyone to know that ‘the happy one’ of the group wasn’t so happy. So I carried on pretending. And I felt like a fraud, which again, added to my problems.

As they say “a problem shared, is a problem halved” and it’s so true. And that’s partly why I’ve written this blog today. It’s not for sympathy, or for anyone to change the way they are around me. Infact, it’s quite the opposite, as I’d be mortally embarrassed if any of my friends were to bring this up in conversation! I did it to lighten the load, the heaviness of keeping the secret, to halve the problem. And it’s already working. Writing this is like self therapy. The cat is well and truly out of the bag now, and as far as I’m concerned, it can find a river somewhere and drown. And I’m usually a big animal lover!

Jokes aside, I’m finally feeling more like my usual Beatrix Potter self these days. I’ve started to make an extra effort with my appearance again, hair make up, nails. It makes me feel good! And I don’t feel guilty for spending a little more time on myself rather than on the girls, as I’m a much better mummy to them now than I was last year in the midst of everything. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the odd day, like today, where I feel a bit flat, or “meh” as all the hip kids are saying, but I don’t give into it anymore. Instead of thinking of all the things I could and should be doing, I’m sat snuggling the girls on the sofa, watching a Disney movie. They are the best antidote I could ever wish for 💗

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Is there Room on the Broom for me?!

Is there Room on the Broom for me?!

Just got back from taking the girls to see ‘Room on the Broom’ live at our local theatre. There’s something special about going to a theatre, something magical. It’s one of my favourite things to do but don’t get that much time to fit in. I think it comes from studying drama at school and college, and attending a drama school before my dancing took over (but that’s another blog). So I really want to share this magical world with my girls. 

Room on the Broom is Amelia’s favourite book at the moment. We must read it a dozen times a day, so, fair to say, I felt more qualified to be up there narrating the story than perhaps some of the actors! She was totally mesmerised by it all. Sofia was joining in panto style, with great exuberance, as she does everything. Although she was obviously far too grown up to pretend that it was real, as she kept shouting “that man has for his hand inside the dogs head!” Thank goodness that’s where he put it! 

So today is a good day. I managed to get both myself and the girls ready on my own AND on time, which for anyone who knows me, knows this is a massive atchiement. Late for my own funeral springs to mind. I love when we can do these things together as our own little family of 4. It makes me warm and fuzzy and all the other cliches put together, when I look across and see my girls enjoying themselves so much.The hubby had a rare night out last night and stayed over with friends, so I’m not sure it would have been his activity of choice, but I’m sure he will get over it!

We are off to visit my family this afternoon for my sisters birthday. How well the day will go, will depend on my family’s inability to be normal. But that’s a blog I’m not ready to write about yet! I’d need some alcohol first!!!

Today, I am happy!

Enjoy your Sunday 

X

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And so it begins!

And so it begins!

Arrrrrgh!

My first ever blog post! What am I doing?!

I must ask that question to myself at least 10 times a day, and that’s before I’ve scraped the last of the cold mushy  weetabix from the table, and the carpet, and the fish tank, and the….. how on earth did it get inside her ear?! I thought they said it was “the best way to start your day” hmmm, questionable!

As any mother will tell you, as soon as that lovely little bundle of cells attaches itself  to your uterus, your brain brain becomes mush. “What am I doing?”  ” What did I come in this room for?” “What’s my name again?” Sound familiar?!

I’m a 31 year old mother of   2 beautiful daughters, Sofia is 4 and Amelia , 2 1/2.  21 months between them.  This is my blog about how I am mummy first, always.  I adore my children , my husband, my business as a mobile  beautician, which I have worked so hard to build up,, my dogs, my life, but it’s important to remember who YOU  are as a person. It can get easily lost  in busy day to day life, and I kind of feel that’s what happened to me, so I plan to rediscover myself (sounds so corny) and write about my experiences.  This is all very new to me, so be kind!

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