I can’t believe it’s been a year since I performed at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony in front of millions. Since then, I’ve made a video of my section’s routine in the actual performance, as you wouldn’t have seen the intricate movements on the screen that we’d spent months preparing for. I’ve also given you a blow-by-blow account of our secret rehearsals that we weren’t allowed to talk about at the time.
I don’t really have a ‘one year on’ story. Instead, my story takes place around five months after the momentous event, because… I was too ashamed to write it at the time. Ok, I actually just couldn’t be bothered to write about it, until now.
So my story goes simply like this:
I was still buzzing from my 17-minute performance months after the event. I was itching to carry on dancing somehow and my love for contemporary dance was rekindled by Akram Kahn’s haunting piece that was performed after the ‘Thanks Tim’ section when Emeli Sandé sang. So from then, I wanted to be a contemporary dancer.
After testing the water at the infamous Pineapple Studios in August, where I tried a taster burlesque class (I know, it’s not quite contemporary but that was the only class that had spaces left, unsurprisingly), I thought that I could ‘fit in’ with the dance crowd there.
I read the description of their contemporary classes and it sounded right up my street. The only ‘problem’ was that I couldn’t make any of the beginners’ classes, I could only attend the intermediate classes.
‘Puh’, I thought, ‘I can handle that class, I’m an Olympic dancer now, don’t you know AND I danced at Sadlers Wells as part of a Rambert Dance Company project. I can handle it.’
Ha – in my dreams! Those words came back to haunt me, big time – with a little reverb and everything.
Anyway, so on one dark, miserable December’s day I decided to go to the class. The weather didn’t have an effect on me – I was super excited, I was hyped up, I was glowing.
While we were waiting for another class to finish, I stood outside the room and watched a hip hop/ jazz funk class. The routine was quick and sharp, and all of the dancers were goooood! I started to become a little nervous. I would never have been able to pick up those moves so quickly, but it didn’t matter, because I would be in my comfort zone in the class I signed up to.
When we finally walked in and put our bags against the wall, it was time for our warm up.
Everything was going well, for about two minutes. Then the teacher did some abnormal stretches. Everyone pretty much struggled, to be fair, except I struggled visibly more than everybody else. Luckily I was at the back, although there were mirrors, I was partially hidden by limbs. We were told we should practice that exercise everyday. I told myself that things would get better in the class – it was only for 1 hour and 30 minutes, how much could we possibly do in that space of time?
Oh boy, how wrong was I? The routine became harder and more complicated with each passing minute, and I was having less and less time to pick it up. Every time I finally managed to learn a move, I forgot it again in an instant in an effort to retain something new – moving backwards and forwards, tumbling, rolling on the floor, a back bend here, a twirl there. The dancers picked it up flawlessly, but I just could. Not. Keep. Up!
‘Never mind,’ I thought, ‘at least I’m in the comfort of a group where no one is really paying attention to me.’
My heart suddenly sank into my stomach when I heard the teacher speak. To my absolute horror she announced that we would be ‘travelling’ across the room from one side to the next while we do the routine. In pairs. There was no hiding. I broke out into a sweat.
As each dancer elegantly graced the floor with their fluid moves to the other side of the room, I felt my heart beat faster and harder in my chest. I thought I was going to explode.
Then it was my turn *gulp*. I tried my very best to remember the routine. I must have looked as awkward as a dancing giraffe. I had a smile etched onto my face. And I laughed – a lot. But in my head I screamed: ‘Oh my dayyysssss. Oh my gosh. Help!!!! Oh no – that wasn’t right! Verdammt es! Lord, Jesus!’
Did I mention that there was a window where people could watch the entire class and everyone in it? Well, now you know. I was flapping around like an idiot for all to see. Perfect. ‘Hide me,’ I screamed in my head, ‘hide meeeeeee!!!’
To be fair, I marginally improved each time I repeated a move. But then this achievement was wiped out whenever I had to learn something else very quickly.
Towards the end of the class we had to put it all together. ‘Whaaaaaatttttt?!!!!’ I did the best I could but I have to be honest – my attempt was pathetic. I had to laugh at myself, and I did, in abundance. It was bad enough that the dancers didn’t laugh at me, because I knew they were smug about it deep inside. What’s worse were the looks of pity they gave me – PITY! As if I was a sick animal in pain and was about to be put down.
When the class finished, the teacher said: “Those who struggled today should think about going to the beginners’ class.” (i.e. ME – ouch!)
On my way out after bolting out of the class I saw some girls and the receptionist speaking excitedly and laughing about something. But as soon as they saw me, they stopped their conversation abruptly and stared at me in silence until I walked out of the studio doors. I’ll give you a penny for figuring out who they were talking about. It very much felt like a walk of shame! Time actually stopped as I walked past – oh the agony!
Well, it’s been one year on since I was re-inspired to do contemporary dance. This isn’t really a ‘look-at-me-and-see-how-much-I’ve-improved’ kind of story. I obviously haven’t been back to Pineapple Studios since. Well, at least, not yet.
I checked the Pineapple Studios website again and it’s the same situation as it was last time. Except this time, I can only make the intermediate or the advance classes – puh, yeah right! Maybe I’ll wait a little while longer.
Note to self: Take heed lest I fall – ain’t that the truth!