Friday, 11 November 2011


I thought it would be auspicious to post with today's date being 11.11.11 and all.  Maybe it's a good time to make a numerology infused wish for something in writing, crack a cyber wishbone with myself by writing down some wishes and throwing it out to the universe to provide if you will.

Recently there have been some inspirational dance related posts I've been enjoying on some blogs that I had found via the fashion and style channel.  Dance has been a big part of my life.  I trained for more than a decade in ballet and now I've clocked up almost two in flamenco so I really love when people share their personal dance experiences on their blogs.  Queen Michelle's series on her growing addiction to ballet over at Kingdom of Style and the tender photographs of her daily practice and dedication have got me itching to get back to the barre and don pointe shoes again.

I may not have mentioned before but this year, as well as working, I've been teaching flamenco both freelance as well as running my own classes so here is a peek into one of them: my bata de cola class (photographed by Mr V).  At the moment I make absolutely no money teaching as my own classes are so small that the freelancing and day job is totally subsidising them.  I've got zip social life at the moment as most nights, straight after work, I'm in a dance studio.

Initially I was reluctant to start teaching as it is a big responsibility, you can't get away with just instructing, you have to inspire people, nurse their dreams into a very physical reality.  But now that I have thrown myself into it, I find I truly love doing it.

They do say that the greatest satisfaction we get as human beings is when we do things for other people.  Regardless of whether I've made money or not, I do derive immense satisfaction if I have seen one person improve how they are performing because I've managed to help them understand them how to do something better or master the technique.  Or sometimes it is the satisfaction of seeing them bloom as individuals under the realisation that they too can dance.

The best thing I read today (and which inspired this post) was this beautifully illustrated post by The Foolish Aesthete called "Tulle and Stripes" and I quote directly from her post:
"I believe exposure to -- even mastery of -- other fields imparts an artistic depth and dimension not acquired by merely flexing muscles at the barre.  Choreographers, fashion designers, musicians, writers -- actually, any kind of artist -- are the same way.  The brilliant ones infuse their field with inspirations from without."

I've always felt frustrated with myself for not just being someone dedicated to one thing and being an oddity that was passionately interested in several things instead.  I beat myself up often over my indecisiveness about life choices in relation to pursuing arts over a career, so to read this was very life affirming.  That no knowledge or skill you ever learn is ever useless, that one can draw on all fields of one's own experience to bring something new to another.  Isn't that the essence of creativity?

Whilst reading that post I remembered an incident when I was taking a creative writing course many years ago for fun.  Each person in the class was to read out a page they had written which was setting a scene and a character writing in first person.  Mine was about an environmental scientist, deploying instruments from a boat to take measurements in the Venetian canals, based on experiences I had as a young environmental engineer working in the field - but I painted my character's otherwise banal activities with simile and metaphor, using imagery of the natural marine world in which she was working to symbolise what she was doing and would be doing with the results.

My classmates were silenced and the teacher went all misty eyed declaring it wonderful.  Then one woman piped up shrilly declaring "that's not realistic at all, she's a scientist! She wouldn't write like that if she was a scientist! She be writing dry, technical stuff."  And I thought I'd joined a creative writing class.  Being young and easily intimidated, I didn't have the courage to whip around and tell her that actually, I was a scientist, and yes I did write like this, all the time.  That had I not studied pollution migration in the Venetian canals, run similar field tests in rivers or study zoology, I would never have been able to write the piece I did.  She was the one who was not being realistic.  The engineer who can day dream up alternative representations of the everyday in words?  That is me.

And I don't doubt that being good at mathematics, knowing what hard work is and having to deal with complex concepts are things I am now bringing to teaching dance.  I have found I am more than capable as a flamenco teacher and the few students I've had really, really enjoy the classes.  Maybe it is because I've had the good fortune to have been taught by some of the best teachers in the world, who are, in my opinion, always the most generous in terms of the information they impart to their students and the energy they put into their classes.  Those teachers will always be my inspiration.

Anyway, my 11th of the 11th of the 11th wish, is for this little seed I've planted to grow into something bigger, and even more beautiful and inspirational.


  1. I sincerely wish the wonderful seed you have planted will grow and bring joy to your and hopefully to a growing number of flamenco fans! If I were there, I would be battering the door down hoping to enrol!!! xoxo

  2. I will water this little seed with hope and intention for from the West Coast of California, V. I love that you are able to recognize your contribution, allowing yourself further satisfaction. Teaching is not an easy field. The world is peppered with bad teachers and mentors at times, when a gem comes along it changes every player's life. My position requires me to be a mentor at times. When everyday life bogs me down, those interactions with others, the difference I know, and I've been told I make, is the one shining thing that holds it all together. I'm happy to hear you're doing what feels good in your heart.
    xo, f

  3. Dear V, thank you for this wonderful post and including a snippet of mine! It was great to learn that you were an environmental engineer, which I think is such a noble field. I've spent half of my life using my mathematical side (and as I was explaining to a young student at my alma mater looking for a mentor, you can still infuse much creativity in an analytical context) and now am spicing it up using more of my creative side. It all comes together beautifully! There is no wasted detour in life. At least I don't think so!

    I love your flamenco images with those gorgeous skirts. There is nothing more fulfilling than teaching and mentoring people who share your passion. xxx

  4. You have such depth and your interests and knowledge are so diverse; It is a joy to read your posts. My daughter was a dancer for many years so I am acquainted with that world and it's beauty. It takes discipline, dedication and strength to do what you are doing!

  5. It's so great to hear that you're immersed in dance. It's amazing! Also I love your writing and love how you share your thoughts - thank you so much!
    I have very scientific background but I've been more or less creative my whole life too - it's been either through dance, art or writing. I love to say that I'm artistic person with thinking of a mathematician. You can be both and I guess only very narrow minded people can assume you can't be both.

  6. If I were in London I'd jump at the chance to learn from you. I can image that the passion you radiate would be a joy to behold. x


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