My journey in dance…
My mum told me that when I was little I was dancing around the house non-stop. It was so annoying that my parents decided to take me to ballet lessons.
I have very little memories of that time. I was 4 years old I believe. All I remember is a very busy preparation for a show where I was quite lost amongst all the older girls. I was a Chinese character with a little paper umbrella, and I remember being quite excited by wearing lipstick.
Then may be the year or a term later
with another teacher (I believe my parents had decided to take me to more structured school) I remember not liking it at all.
We were doing “exercises”, I had to wait for my turn, I wasn’t the swan in the end of the year show, just a duckling…
I remember vividly the one time my teacher had enough of my exuberant enthusiasm and asked me to wait outside for my dad. I was just dancing around uncontrollably enjoying the music, making up my own exercises and not listening at all to her instructions when she kindly took me out of the studio to sit the last 10mins of the class outside.
On the studio’s door was an illustrated description of a “pirouette” and a “pas de chat”. As I stood by the door, I said to her with a big smile on my face: “oh look Ms Sylvia! It’s me, with my pig tails and blue leotard!” pointing at the illustration. I was impossible!…
My dad was very surprised to see me outside; and at the young age of 6 that was the end of ballet for me… Or so it seems…
5 years on,
my love of movement and the influence of my parents stirred me towards dancing again. My dad was a fervent folk-dance enthusiast and my mum’s hobby at the time was mime.
One summer, my mum was offered to attend a Mime course in Perros Guirrec, France. With no-one to look after me and my brother, she took us along with her. I was 10 ½ years old.
For few days we were both watching the different morning classes taking place in that huge sport hall. But soon my brother found some basketball classes to attend and I tried ballet.
I loved it!!!
My teacher (Aliocha Ponzewicz, sorry if I got the spelling wrong) was very strict, he had a cane and was tapping the floor in rhythm with the music. I tried Russian folk dance with Olga Stens too. Almost 40 years on I remember this summer as if it was yesterday.
The following September,
I was in ballet classes with Sylvia Padovan, the very same teacher who took me out of her class 5 years before (I later learnt that I am the only child she ever took out of her classes, oops! )
Over my years of training with her, Sylvia and I became close friends. I took all the Royal Academy of Dance exams (Grade 2 to Advance 2) with her + the French local examinations and competitions, but most importantly I learnt many life skills and values I still hold now.
She encouraged me into a dance career and at the age of 14 I had my first job as a “Negritis” in the Opera Aida on the Paris-Bercy’s amazing stage!
Obviously, Sylvia wasn’t my only teacher,
throughout my dancing career I met other wonderful people I learnt a lot from
like Solange Golovine, Anita Young, Jacqueline Finnaert, Kim Lonsdale, Alain Duthoit, Maria Fay, Brian Loftus to name just a few, but she has given me so much, I can say with confidence that I am the ballet teacher I am today thanks to her.
I left France for London to train at the London Studio Centre. I was 18 and ready for the big stage. I trained there for 2 years but my health started to deteriorate, and I went back to France.
After a ridiculous accident
(sprained my ankle missing the pavement!) I had to stop dancing for a while. It gave me the opportunity to look after my health and I decided I could teach while waiting to get better.
Although I had the qualifications to teach (with my RAD Adv 2 certificate) the French authorities didn’t allow me as they were implementing a new teaching system across the French “conservatoires” that very same year. I had to wait a year for my ankle and health to get better to start working as a dancer again.
By that time, I had taken a passion into choreographing and realised I wanted to create more than follow. So, I created “Coincidance” a semi-professional company with which I choreographed and produced 3 shows containing original choreographies and classical repertoire. We toured for 2 years. And after an exhausting last performance I snapped my left hamstring and torn ligaments in my left hip joint. That was the end of my dancing career…
I came to London in 1994,
5 years before I had caught the London bug and I was yearning to go back, so I did; found a job straight away as a ballet teacher, took my teaching certificate and never looked back ever since!
After teaching and choreographing for schools around West and North London, I decided I should open my own school close to home in the East End where I have always lived since 1994.
In September 2008 Hallsville School of Ballet was born in Canning Town.
It quickly gained in popularity and after only 4 years in business we had almost 200 pupils.
- Since its beginning, more than a thousand children from East London went through our doors enjoying few terms of dance, are still with us or have moved on to professional level.
- To this date, after the creation of MyBallet Community our twin company, we produced 4 original ballets (The Carnival of the Animals 2013, Hogwarts School of Wizardry 2015, Hogwarts School of Destiny 2016, Painting Degas 2018, next to come is Kojiki)
- Won 3 awards, Communities of Health 2010, 2013, 2016.
- And have organised or took part in many community events (outings to the theatre, Big Dance Festival 2011, 2012, Olympic Carnival 2012, Family Dance Parties 2014, 2015, Dance days 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and the Hogwarts workshop 2015-16)
After these amazing years I have turned a new page
I am starting a new adventure in our new venue, Manorfield Primary School in Poplar, and with a new name MyBallet Academy!
I am one of a few who can say I love my job.
I wake up every morning wanting to give more to my community as seeing those young people grow, the happiness I bring to their families, knowing I make someone’s life a bit more colourful, and all that with an Art I love is priceless…
Send us your story!
How did ballet affect your life? What found memories do you hold? What did/do you gain from practicing Ballet/dance?