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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Monday Memories - Dancing Dreams

Monday Memories is the theme of a new meme from Pauleen at Family History Across the Seas who invites us to share our own memories. This week the topic is "Let's Dance".

 I  am in an  all singing/dancing chorus, swirling my skirts,  in a  London West End theatre show  - such as Carousel, Oklahoma, West Side Story or 42nd Street .......

But It Was All One of My Wildest Dreams!  

I grew up in the entertainment capital of the north wet of England - the seaside resort of Blackpool.  As a child, I would have loved to go to dancing classes, but that was not to be. I have to thank my mother and aunt for introducing me to musicals, operetta and ballet (my favourite art form), with touring companies coming regularly to the Opera House and Grand Theatre in the town. 

My first ballet was "Coppelia - an ideal choice for a little girl with the feisty heroine in a lovely pale blue tutu,  the handsome hero and colourful Hungarian dances - mazurka and czardas.   I wanted  a gypsy costume and  headdress with long coloured ribbons  - the nearest I got was a full skirt  trimmed with rows of  ric rac.  

In my teens, I saw "Sleeping Beauty" and I was mesmerised by the magic of it - from the orchestral overture,  the transforming scenery, the costumes, the acting  and of course the dancing.  

I bought the magazine "Dances and Dancers" and compiled a ballet scrapbook - I still have it.  Years later I travelled through from Edinburgh where I was working to Glasgow to see Margot Fonteyn in "Swan Lake".  Recently I ticked off an item on my "bucket list" by seeing the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, and next week I have tickets for Scottish Ballet in Edinburgh in a new production of "Swan Lake".  The advent of video and DVD means I can now enjoy ballet in my own home, apart from just listening to the music.   So  my enthusiasm for ballet has not dimmed from that  first performance I saw when I was around 8 years old. 

At High School (all girls) we had dancing once per week.   I remember the Lancers - you never hear of it these days, but it was a complex old time dance of eight in a set; Scottish (Gay Gordons, Dancing White Sergeant, Highland Reel, Strip the Willow - all energetic and great fun) and other national dancers - the only one I can  can remember was the Tarantella.   Later we did barn dances and  other old time dances such as the Military Two Step and St. Bernard's Waltz - after all this was the 1950's! 

My only stage performance came when I sang in the Gilbert  & Sullivan Group at university in its annual opera productions.   On a crowded stage, the dance steps for the large chorus were very simple.  But one year I was one of the girls chosen to do a hornpipe in "Ruddigore" when we welcomed a sailor back from the sea. I loved it and life was very flat when the week was over!     

I met my husband and he enjoyed ballroom dancing, but by that time we were living in the rural Scottish Borders where. apart from at weddings,  adult dancing opportunities were Nil. However on visits back to relations in Blackpool we danced on the floor of that mecca of ballroom dancing - The Tower Ballroom.  We followed in the footsteps of my parents who met there in 1936.  

Nowadays "Strictly Come Dancing" is at the top of my TV viewing, and I canon wait for the new series to start in Sepember.  My husband retires to the computer for the 3 months the programme is on (he dislikes the raz-ma-tax). Meanwhile I enjoy the costumes and the dancing - and wish I could be up there in either a gorgeous floaty dress dancing the quickstep, or in a jazzy little number jiving away!  If only I was younger.......Still in my dreams!  

Free images courtesy of Pixabay

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