Jemma is currently in her third year studying Musical Theatre at Laine Theatre Arts in the UK. She writes for London Theatre Direct in her spare time and will soon begin teaching at a local theatre school, Tomorrow’s Talent.
1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?
I remember attending my older sister’s dance classes when I was very young and wanting desperately to join in with what the older girls were doing! It didn’t take long before I began taking classes too, and it has just grown and grown from there. My parents are very supportive and have always encouraged me to do what I enjoy doing, which I am very grateful for.
2. What do you find you like best about dance class?
Dance classes are the best when you have a great atmosphere. Dance offers a sense of unity, both on stage and in the studio, that I have not found anywhere else – everybody works diligently and it is amazing to give and receive support from fellow performers. The feeling when you ‘get’ something better than you’ve got it before is really good- you might not nail it every single time, but if you get a tiny bit better each time then you are improving!
3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?
Pirouettes on the left side!!
The best and worst thing about dance is how it drains you – emotionally and physically! I love feeling like I’ve worked my hardest, pushed myself further than I did yesterday and consequently achieved more, but it certainly is exhausting! It makes you appreciate any quieter time you do have in life, although it is very difficult to shut off from it. Sometimes I close my eyes to go to sleep and can hear my teachers shouting “once more from the top, 5, 6, 7, 8!”. I have learned to value my weekends a lot more, and to give myself ‘me-time’: watching television with my housemates, reading a book, having a bath.
4. What advice would you give to other dancers?
It’s such a cliché, but make the most of your training. I am now coming to the end of my three years at Laine, and am growing increasingly worried about how quickly my remaining time is slipping away. Once I leave college I know it will be up to me to maintain my physical fitness, ensure I keep motivated, and make sure I don’t let my technique slip for auditions. Also remember how lucky you are to have picked the best job in the world (in my opinion!) – you are hopefully going to be paid to do the thing you love the most, which is performing on stage. Technique classes seem awful at the time, but all your teachers want you to be the best you can potentially be – that is why they nag you so much!
5. How has dance changed your life?
Dance has always been a huge influence on me, and now it is something that my life would not be complete without. I think every performer knows how exhilarating the feeling of being on stage is and I’m so grateful that I have discovered it. Changing dance from my hobby to my career choice was a scary thing to do, but I know that I have chosen an amazing, if impossibly competitive, industry to go into. I intend to learn as much as I can from everybody in the industry that I come into contact with, as I believe that you never stop learning.