My life as a dancer
September 12, 2006
My earliest memory of dance class takes place in a small studio in Santa Rosa Heights, Arima. I’m three or four, and my mother, along with several other mothers are chatting away after one of my dance classes. I’m in a hurry to get out of there. On a mission, I begin yanking the nearest hand towards the door. I don’t bother to look up because I’m sure it’s my mother. Of course it is. I mean, up until that point, me and my spoilt self had pulled this stunt many times before so why would this time be any different? Well boy was I wrong.
After five tugs, the patient young woman gently tugged back, immediately getting my attention and causing the worst case of four-year old embarrassment to swell up inside me. Naturally, I dashed to my mother’s side and clung to her legs as if my life depended on it. I didn’t stay in that class much longer – not because of the incident, but because classes had been moved to Saturday mornings, and me being the burgeoning t.v. peong that I was, wasn’t having it. I begged mummy to take me out of the class so that I could watch GiGi, SheRah and the rest of my Saturday mornings cartoons in peace.
When I turned 11, I entered Form 1, and my little sister started school for the very first time. My mother entered her into ballet classes with the Caribbean School of Dancing in St. Augustine since the school’s main location on 2A Dere St. in POS was too far for us Arimians. I sat in the back watching my sis learn how to point and flex and was instantly hooked. I’d never felt such an immense connection with anything else before that. I was simply overwhelmed by the mix of emotions that I was feeling standing there watching her. I was jealous. I wanted to dance too. Thankfully, I was older and smarter then. I didn’t need to tug, I only had to ask.
By the next week, I was enrolled in my first (well seventh to be accurate) dance class. I was put in a class with girls who were four years younger than me but I couldn’t care less. I was a ballerina and that was all that mattered. Over the next three years, I worked hard and earned distinctions in every Royal Academy of Dance exam that I sat. Finally, after a series of grade skips, I was placed in a class with girls my own age and moved to the main school in POS. I was on cloud nine.
By 15, when most of my fellow dancing buddies were being taken out of their dance classes by parents who were worried about CXC, I insisted on staying in. There was no question about that. By that time, dance was so much apart of me that I couldn’t imagine my life without it. (Seriously though, I don’t know how my mother managed — She being a single parent with 2 daughters involved in so many extra-curricular activites, in town to boot. We were still on the road trekking it all the way back to Arima at 9/10pm on a week night when most of my friends, i’m sure, had already showered and hunkered down to finishing their homework by then.) The summer of that same year, my friend Abs and I went to Ballet Hispanico in NYC on scholarship and the Metamorphosis Dance Company was founded as an off-shoot of the school. I was among the inagural group.
My experience at Caribbean School was awesome. It wasn’t without its stressful days but for the most part, it was a mix of fun, hard works and plenty kicks. I had the most amazing teachers. Mrs. Roe, thank you for pushing me and seeing my potential. You’re an amazing woman and I admire you tremendously. Mrs. Herrera and Ms. Yip Choy, thank you for preparing me for all those ballet exams and for seeing that I had some talent even with my one long and short foot! Ms. Merry, thank you for introducing me to jazz and thank you for your adaptation of Cats – I loved being one of the ‘sexy’ felines in the piece. Ms. Decle, thank you for your strictness and for demanding only the best from your students, inside and outside the studio. Thank you to all of the school’s alumni who returned every year to share their knowledge of dance and their experiences as professional dancers with us. You inspired me deeply. I saw in you what I wanted to be.