I first began dancing when I was attending Stagecoach in my early stages classes. According to my mum, little me was dancing a ‘jive’ with a partner and the mums were asking where I learned to dance as I had natural rhythm. My mum was surprised as I’d never had any dance training before only singing and piano, and so she decided to enrol me in dance classes.
A little unconventional, the dance studio near where I lived was called Rayner’s School of Dance, specialising in Disco (freestyle competitive dance), Latin American and Ballroom. I started off just with Disco when I was about seven, having no real interest in ballet, tap and modern and got on well with the classes. Ever since I could remember I have had an instinctual pick-up ability when it comes to dance. After a while I became interested in staying after class to attempt Latin American and finally Ballroom, which required a bit more sophistication and poise than seven year old me could handle.
I think the competitive nature of me, combined with making friends really pushed me towards the examinations and rising up through the grading systems of those three dance disciplines. I was most happy when I got my newest little trophy or award for passing my next dance exam. When I was around 11, I started private lessons with my dance tutor Dallas Chapman. She was exactly the kind of mentor I needed, always bright and eager to push me, she trained me into a confident dancer and taught me the importance of smiling and performance through dance. I quickly rose through the exams finally reaching my President’s Award 5 in Disco, President’s Award 3 in Latin American and President’s Award 1 in Ballroom and turned my attention to competitions.
Go hard or go home
By the time I was fourteen, I was still attending Stagecoach in Stage Three where I was learning musical theatre jazz and various styles, I had begun at my agent’s performing arts school Centre Stage performing in musicals such as FAME and Hairspray, training in ballet and tap, and at competitive dance classes most nights. I think it was a mixture of my friends and my drive that pushed me to carry my dance forwards even further, my life was 100% performing arts, excelling in dance. Competitive dance was a whirlwind of expensive costumes, too much make-up and trying hard to win for me to keep up with. I liked winning, but I was a bit too late to seriously compete in comps as most of the kids had been competing since they were six. When I was sixteen I had to turn my attention for the first time towards my future, what I wanted to be. It was an easy decision for me to choose, I wanted to go to Drama School. I threw myself more into Musical Theatre and turned towards Acting. I grew to love drama at Centre Stage and lived for the musicals I performed in, however I was almost always cast as a dancer over a lead role if one was required. It was sort of a Catch 22, I loved dance and was more than happy to be recognised for my skills (I won Outstanding Dancer at Centre Stage’s Oscars two years in a row), but I wanted to develop as a fully-rounded performer and get those opportunities.
Tring Park School for the Performing Arts
Tring Park really helped me extend my dance to a more professional and confident level where I could be among the industry and likeminded performers. I was accepted on the Drama Course where along with receiving my training as an actor, I undertook lessons in many dance genres during my Sixth Form including Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary and the occasional Commercial class. These classes along with the assessments helped to push me towards refining my technique and flexability, along with my general level of fitness needed in order to survive this industry. My stamina and perseverance increased and I had role models constantly nearby to inspire me. Despite perhaps not utilising my dance skills as much as previously on the Drama Course, I have to thank the tutors at Tring for teaching me about drive, responsibility, time management and how to tough it out during long, long hours of rehearsal. It got me a place at Central School of Speech and Drama.