When I first started secondary school I chose to go to my local school to fit with my gymnastics training, but it was never the school I wanted to go to, Sheredes (which is now Robert Barclay Academy) was my first choice originally. When I had issues with bullying and the school were not dealing with it, I moved to RBA, and it was the best thing I did!
At the beginning of Year 8, the School were holding auditions for the school Dance Company and I decided to go along, I had only ever danced as part of my gymnastic routines and in cheerleading. I just copied what the girls' showed us and was offered a spot, which I was pleased about.
At the time I was having some other health issues which weren't resolved until the latter part of Year 8, but I was determined to not let them stop me, even if I did look like the walking dead at times.
I started to enjoy dancing and also took the opportunity to pick up some of my gymnastics skills too.
A lot of people believe that if you are good at gymnastics you can dance, but if you watch gymnasts closely when they perform its not the case. Gymnasts are taught the basic ballet moves to help them on floor and beam and ballet does help give a strong core vital for the beam.
But a dancer finds it easier to learn gymnastics than the other way round. If you look at a dancer and a gymnast side by side, the differences are very obvious. Obviously, as in all sports, you have the dancer or gymnast who baulks the rule, but a gymnast tends to be shorter in stature, with a longer torso, shorter legs and shorter muscles. The shorter muscles give more speed and they are generally strong for Uneven bars, a bit along the lines of a male gymnast build.
A dancer tends to have longer legs, taller in stature, shorter torso and longer muscles. They can be just as strong but they don't show their muscles due to the muscles being elongated. Longer muscles mean you are not so powerful but you have an elegance about you.
My coach at Havering always said you have elongated muscles so its harder for you to build bulk, but you have an elegance the others don't have. Hence his comment that I would make a wonderful dancer.
At the beginning of 2016, my mum received an email which she thought I would be interested in. There was a National Competition 'TeenStar' which was for Dancers/Singers, so I decided to audition. I had been working on some choreography at home but decided to use a segment of a dance I had been doing at school. It went well and at the end whilst I waited to see if I had got through, the head judge came out and spoke to me. He complimented me on my dancing but felt that I wasn't connecting with it and as there were auditions the following week, he asked if I could come back and dance again.
The following week, I returned and ending up dancing twice and going straight through to the next round. After my audition, one of the judges came into the bathroom and complimented me on my dancing. I went on to explain that I had choreographed the dance in the lounge at home and she was shocked to hear I wasn't affiliated with a dance school.
As I had never had any dance training, I thought I needed a bit of help with technique! So I contacted my cousin, she was a trained dancer and she offered to help. She spoke to the Dance School she trained at and they agreed for us to use one of their studios.
We didn't have long to the next round so we had 2 sessions together tweaking things and working on technique.
Some of the dancers in the next 2 rounds were amazing and I never imagined I would make it through to the final let alone winning both the rounds to get there.
I decided that I needed a new dance for the final, so started working on the dance and my nan made the outfit I designed. They used a phone voting system as well and going into the final I was in 1st place. Overall, I came 5th and I could not have been happier. Originally approximately 10,000 under 21s auditioned.
I was also asked if I would like to join StageRight School of Performing Arts, although it meant my mum would be driving 64 miles a day 4/5 days a week, she agreed. I was back on the road again, just like when I was a gymnast. My mum would pick me up from school and I would eat on the way there and complete my homework with the other girls between training.
I had found my new home, I was loving it! Learning so many different styles of dance: - Jazz, Modern, Ballet, Tap, Commercial, En-Pointe, Contemporary, Lyrical, Street, Gymnastics, Musical Theatre and Drama.
I took my Grade 4 in Ballet within 4 months of starting and gained a Distinction with over a 90% pass grade!
At the same time, I joined the competition squad and I couldn't get enough.
In 2019, I competed in my first solo and came 4th out of 49 competitors. I could not believe it, it's quite hard to finish high when you perform a dance for the first time as it takes time to feel comfortable.
But 2019 was also the year that I was never going to forget and life would change forever!