Tag Archive: dancing


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!

GovernorsBallMusicFestival

‘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!’

awkward_turtle

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!

          

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So you’ve all seen my post about the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, right?

Well, I was desperate to tell people about the progress of my rehearsals for that momentous event, but because I was sworn to secrecy by signing a confidentiality agreement, I couldn’t tell anyone, apart from my sister and my friend who were also taking part.

The next best thing for me to do was to make notes after each rehearsal instead, and to bore you with the details at a later date. That date has now come, so enjoy!

THESE are the dance moves you didn’t really get to see during the Opening Ceremony:

(I look serious because the sun was in my eyes. Also my head is cut off largely because it was filmed on my iPhone so the dimensions are a bit funny, and my sister’s hands were a bit shaky. Sorry.)

If you want to know how the other sections looked, then check out a video of our Thanks Tim flashmob at the end of my post.

Rehearsal 1

There was a long queue at 3 Mills Studios due to computer problems as we were the first group to rehearse there. I was in Group 49B and I received my bib, which said Tim 240. Danny Boyle told us his vision and showed us a video and a model-sized version of the Thanks Tim section.

I punched my glasses off my face in front of our dance tutors (the dance captains) while doing The Gorilla (leaning to the right and left while swinging each fist into the opposite side of your chest). Very graceful.

I made some new friends and actually remembered most of their names, which was a huge achievement for me as you have probably noticed in a previous post.

Rehearsal 2

It was harder than the first week. They said they would push us.

We had a costume fitting, which was chaotic. Again this was because we were one of the first groups to be fitted. The designer used me as a model to get the length of the sequence dresses at the correct length. I felt like a model. A very short one, but a model nonetheless. Fabulous darling.

Rehearsal 3

Met new people, as per usual. People noticed who the dancers were in our group as they picked up the moves a lot faster than us mere mortals did. We learnt another section of the 60s routine and put the different sections together. Our thing to say that we were cool/we were getting it was to do a ‘C’ sign with our hand. That was the sign used by the deaf people in our group, and it just caught on.

Rehearsal 4

During our warm up exercises I had a fit of the giggles with my partner. We were simply given codes for certain actions at a specific time.

We learnt the full ‘present’/’Now’ section. It was intense and ruddy difficult!! Associate director Paulette Randall assured me from the sidelines that I was doing well by smiling and making gestures. I wasn’t convinced. Danny filmed us up close at the end by walking/weaving in and out of our lines. But we all broke down after a certain point as we couldn’t remember the moves we had just learnt. It was a mess. He looked around hopelessly for someone to film, but to no avail.

Earlier, kids came in and went into one of the studio rooms, which was filled with hospital beds. We wondered whether these were the kids for the NHS section.

On my way home with one of my new friends, someone was really surprised to hear my friend say that I could stay at her house.

Rehearsal 5

I went to a friend’s baby blessing. There was a week’s break in between as well.

Rehearsal 6

This was my first week rehearsing in Dagenham at an old Ford site. I noticed that we were joined with the other 60s section (49A) as well as the 70s, the punks, 80s, 90s and ‘Now’ dancers- possibly. We saw some of the other dances and I really loved the 70s routine- they were cool. It was hot and the shorts were out.

We concentrated on blocking people into their formations, based on a grid of coordinates. I didn’t really have a clue what was I was doing. I met some new people and one of the dance captains invited us to a LDN madness dance event. Because there were so many of us, our dance teachers had to talk to us through FM radios. We got to keep the headphones.

As we were leaving, Danny said: “Well done guys.” I was well chuffed- he talked directly to ME… and a couple hundred other people. During the rehearsal I walked past him a couple of times, and I just wanted to ask about a runner job. I just didn’t have the guts to though.

My cunning plan to draw the attention of fellow Olympian dancers on the tube was to take out my cheap brown headphones from my bag as a little sign that I was taking part in the Olympics, because only they knew where those headphones came from. And it worked- that was how I met my latest friend. Well, actually he just recognised me from the rehearsals.

Rehearsal 7

It was the Jubilee weekend. Danny sent an email asking for us to come:

Dear TIM Performer,

Thank you for your attendance so far. You’re doing an amazing job and I hope you’re enjoying it. The ambitions of the show can only be achieved through your energy and continued commitment to the rehearsals.

This coming weekend is a huge one for the Opening Ceremony Rehearsals at Dagenham.

I know the Queen has organised lots of alternative distractions. Don’t be tempted! Come to Dagenham instead! She will approve when you walk into the Stadium on July 27th.

And even more importantly – you, your friends, your family and the world will be dazzled by your collective star power!

Look out for each other and

Thank You!

Danny Boyle

PS – As a thank you for attending this Jubilee weekend we will have a special thank you gift for you

The surprise gift they had for us was a T-shirt with the ceremonies logo.

I managed to get a sneak preview of the Industrial Revolution dance, which was quite cool. We could also see how our shapes looked in the camera. My section’s peace sign was coming along nicely.

I found out today that I’m part of The Tube at the beginning of the Thanks Tim section, bouncing backwards on our right leg to The Underground song. A new friend I met, who was one of The Punks, told me that we would have to leave the stadium after our set. I was gutted!

Rehearsal 8

We received a rousing speech by Danny and Kendrick H2O Sandy, our choreographer, they were just basically giving us a pep talk. They showed us some slides which portrayed how the whole section would pan out- I was VERY excited! We worked on blocking, again, and on cleaning up our “chorry”/ routine. We put all the sections altogether at the end and it was epic! I was like an excited schoolgirl. As we were going back to the station, our transfer bus broke down. Fun times.

Rehearsal 9

I was late, and I was fuming. The reasons for this are not even worth mentioning. The professional dancers joined us for the first time. We mainly worked on blocking, and this was our last rehearsal in Dagenham- yesss!!!!!!

Rehearsal 10

This was the first real test to see how dedicated I was to this whole dancing thing. On the day of this rehearsal, I had to go to work 30mins earlier AND only have a 30mins lunch break- now for me, that is dedication.

Today was the first time in the Olympic Stadium, and it felt great, apart from the trek we had to take from the station to the stadium. Head of mass movement choreography Steve Boyd’s first words to us were “welcome home”. We received lunch packs in brown paper bags, and it felt a little bit like we were in school. We worked more on blocking, and it was quite chilly. It started to rain quite heavily at one point, and we just danced in it while wearing the plastic ponchos they gave to us. The surface was slippery though so we couldn’t really dance properly. Some of us started to fret about how we would cope if it rained on the actual night.

Rehearsal 11

The rehearsal was called a ‘techie’, which basically meant that we had to wait around while they figured out how they were going to film Thanks Tim. We saw the family, and we also saw the guys in the 70s section, who go up in the air for the Starman song. We worked more on our blocking. Fun times.

Rehearsal 12

We got to do a bit more choreography, thank God. And then it was back to blocking. We focused on our entrances and exits. So for me this was the Tube section. And at the end of the whole routine, I was part of one of the sections that were allowed to go on the tor. Way too many people got excited about going on top of the tor so that they could try and bask in the limelight. Losers.

Overall, Thank Tim was starting to come together a bit more. Today was a shoe rehearsal, but my black Mary Jane shoes were a bit too small, so I returned them. I’ll receive ballet pumps next time because my feet are weird.

We saw the flames for Firestarter. For parts of the 60s section, some people weren’t there because of some communication issues, so I had the responsibility of leading the rest of my line around the curve of the peace sign- I was scared. We got there in the end- on time, which was a first, because for some unknown reason people weren’t taking big enough steps when travelling around the curve. Rant over. Go me.

After the rehearsal, in our in-ears we heard someone in the background exclaim: “That was fucking amazing!” During the week we were told to pick up our stadium ID badges and that we have two allocated tickets for our final dress rehearsal. We were told that we aren’t allowed to watch the other sections though, which was rubbish news.

Rehearsal 13

I had sooo much fun! I received my navy ballet shoes. We were greeted by our new security guards at the gates. EVERYONE was talking about the friendly soldiers!

In this rehearsal, our positioning and movement in The Tube and 60s sections was a lot better. We got told that we’ll be learning some Now choreography, which was awesome news. We saw the house being lifted up in the stadium, which was really cool. I also tried to speak to Danny, but to no avail.

Rehearsal 14

Again, I had so much fun! We went through the whole thing twice with the lights, the flames and all the theatrical trimmings. We got to join in with the Now dancers by doing the heartbeat bit during Emilie Sandé’s Heaven.

In an announcement before we started, we were told that some people were being rude and that there were rumours flying around that some people were going to try “sabotage” the routine so that they could get their split second of fame. By the end of the rehearsal they had to threaten to take down people’s bib numbers in order to weed out those who were not supposed to be on the tor.

Rehearsal 15

It rained, a lot. We saw a helicopter hovering around the stadium, and we thought it was the pesky paparazzi trying to get more information about the Opening Ceremony. But to our delight, we saw people jump out with union jack parachutes to the James Bond theme tune. People were told off for taking pictures and tweeting about it, since it was supposed to be a secret and all.

We were told that we would no longer be able to do the slow-mo bit in the Now dance routine, which was disappointing. We were also told that Saturday’s rehearsal was cancelled and that Sunday’s was extended. We learnt some Bhangra for the Now section and we perfected our heartbeat.

Rehearsal 16

Thankfully it didn’t rain. We were told that the slow-mo bit was back in the routine, but that bits from other sections would be taken out (not the 60s though). We were also told that someone from a different section to ours was told to leave and not come back because they were caught taking photos. I think this was our warning.

We did a couple of run-throughs and our spectators, the cast in the marching/ drummers section, loved it. I played a drama game called ninja with a group of people from my Tube A section while we were waiting to start, and I loved it. There was also a rumour going around that the professional dancers were being paid £4k and that ‘The Family’ members were being paid too.

We got to watch some of Akram Kahn’s dance piece, which comes on after us, and it was beautiful.

Rehearsal 17

We went through a couple run-throughs and they were quite good. We were taught new choreography for the Now bit, which I loved.

Rehearsal 18

This was the first time we were instructed to walk to Eton Manor, our cast holding area. It was a very long walk, but at least we got to see more of the sites in the Olympic Park, like the Velodrome, the Olympic Village with the flags, and the place where the BBC were setting up house, etc.

We saw our costumes with accessories for the first time. I was told to wear a wig because my hair is quite short. We went through two run-throughs, and then we were told to leave early. I picked up dress rehearsal tickets for my mum and my sister.

Rehearsal 19

This was our first dress rehearsal. There was a lot of waiting around and we only went through the whole thing once. We got to wear our costumes, just minus some of the accessories. I noticed that my dress was slightly longer than it was supposed to be though, and because I’m short, it just seemed to swallow me up.

Seb Coe signed autographs and Danny walked around Eton Manor, I guess to boost morale. I finally mustered up the courage to try and talk to him. I touched his arm and asked him about getting a job as a runner, but there wasn’t enough time to let the question sink in as someone else grabbed his attention. Curses. Also, Rick Smith of Underworld, the man instructing the drummers in our in-ears, was entertaining us on our long walk to the stadium- he’s a funny guy.

Rehearsal 20

This was our full dress rehearsal to an audience, which nearly filled the stadium. I absolutely loved it, and it was great to feed off the selected volunteers’ energy.

Just before the start of the dress rehearsal, we could hear Danny in our in-ears asking the volunteers to save the surprise, and we could hear him praising us, which was nice.

I felt like I was in a film walking to the stadium with the dramatic music playing in the background through my headphones.

There was a lot of waiting around, even though I came a bit later to the rehearsal. We were told to go home by Leyton station as there were so many people going home at the same time. The Central line was suspended, so the transport network was already in meltdown before the Olympics even started. I stayed at my friend’s place, the one I had only known for a few months.

Rehearsal 21

I managed to make an ingenious belt for my mobile phone, which I could wear under my dress so that I could take loads of pictures. It made my stomach stick out quite a bit though. Meh. While we were waiting, the 60s girls made a card for our mass movement choreographer, Gina Martinez. For this final rehearsal, I thought it would be best if I got the make-up artist to do my make-up from here on. This time, we were performing for our friends and family and we could hear Danny addressing the crowd again. As we made our way towards the stadium, everyone joined in with Rick in our in-ears instructing the drummers. Phrases included: “Everybody grooving in 1, 2, 3, 4/ Bosh/ You guys are absolutely brilliant.”

I saw some of the sparks from the Olympic rings in the Industrial Revolution section and then it hit me that my Olympic experience was nearly over, so I was a bit sad.

When we left the stadium, even though the queues were really long the volunteer Games Makers were really friendly and engaging, which was great.

Show day

Well, you all know what happened on this day. Check out my post if you need a reminder: https://areyouhavingabubble.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/its-show-tiiiiimmmmmmeeeee-london-2012-opening-ceremony/

And finally, here’s the video to one of our flashmobs: