The biggest part of me...
Was always dance.
When I was five I started Irish dancing. I loved everything about it, the music, movement, dresses. But mostly the feeling.
I had really bad anxiety as a child. I had a mantra I would repeat as my mum walked me down the road every morning before she went to work. "Give me a kiss, say goodbye and meet me at school again." I laugh about it now, but I was convinced something was going to stop her being there, every single day. She remembers how she used to cycle off to work in floods of tears feeling like an awful mother, teaching children all day and then sweating to get back to me on time to be there for me before I broke down and felt abandoned, scared and alone.
I loved my first Irish dancing teacher, she was warm and smiley and LOVED to dance. It was infectious and I caught it. I always needed support to bring out what was inside of me, and she did that. Later she retired and we got another teacher. All the warmth was gone, and she fixated on steps and correctness, shouted a lot. I had to give up Irish dancing after a couple of what I now know to be panic attacks. One hit me at school when I remembered I had dancing later and still hadn't memorised one of the exercises. I remember the physicality of it now, breath gone, waves of heat sweeping over me. I must have been eight.
Fast forward ten years and I'm waking up, sweating, breathing heavily. In my dream I've been doing pointe again! My feet were back and I could feel my toes tingling (I can feel them as I write this - damn phantom pain). But as I stir back into wakefulness, my stomach drops because the tingling subsides, and I'm back without. I’ve forced dance away from my life. No, it’s not a part of me anymore.
This picture was taken last month when I performed an improvised duet. Two women, supporting each other, always trying to be there for each other at the right time. I never thought I would be strong enough to do this, bring enough to the space. Dance is everything, it is connection, and touch, and every quality of a human experience. To be able to keep on re-finding it as my life goes on, and to re-find with it love and ambition and strength, is amazing.