Tap Your Troubles Away: Discovering a new hobby in lockdown
As part of our Feel Good February series, guest contributor Stephanie shares how she has rediscovered a love of dance during lockdown.
I have never been sporty. I have always been a “busy” person – always on my feet – active – but the thought of going for a run has not been in my comfort zone, ever.
During the first lockdown I was furloughed and this put substantial strain on my mental health. I know it was tough for those who had to carry on with triple the workload too (it doesn’t seem that there have been many winners in the Covid-19 pandemic) but I found myself with a great deal of time and a house that I could only clean so many times before I was running out of things to do. I did a bit of volunteering, but as there was an influx of volunteers in Cornwall at the time, I wasn’t required as much as I usually might be, so I needed to do something which kept me physically active and that also gave me a purpose – if it helped me mentally as well, then that would be ideal.
I’ve always enjoyed performing. I’ve got a degree in it, I do it in my spare time, I always want to get better at it. Singing lessons, which I’ve taken since I was 14 (I’m now clinging on to 29) were a no-go as they’re nearly impossible via Zoom (though I know some have mastered the art), but I had always loved dancing too. It wasn’t what I was technically best at, but the love for it was there. I took ballet, tap, modern and jazz lessons throughout my childhood and enjoyed them, and I’d blagged some tap routines when performing in musicals in my teens and early 20s. But I was average, never bad, never amazing.
Having followed Jason Thomas Performing Arts on Facebook for a while, I knew they were good, and if I was going to spend my money on dance lessons then I wanted to learn from someone brilliant. I bit the bullet and signed up for Adult Tap lessons in May 2020 with Jo, one of the dance school’s teachers.
The first thing I felt during the class was empowerment. I personally felt pretty useless when I wasn’t working but suddenly I felt like I was capable of something again. I was in such a safe environment where I knew no one, so no one could judge the pace of my progression. The class I attend is mixed ability, which brings a lovely balance of being challenged and then having a minute or two to recover myself when we’re doing something I’m more comfortable with. It’s a small group which makes things easier when we’re learning on Zoom, but it also helped during some of last year’s summer months when we could do lessons in person but had to be socially distanced.
My confidence has grown, and now that I’m working again I really look forward to my Monday tap evenings. I’ve made friends, taken part in a “Tapathon”, kept active, have developed a skill and have seen benefits to my mental health. As someone musical, there’s nothing more satisfying than the rhythmic clicks of your tap shoes on the cold kitchen floor. Much like when I’m singing, when I dance I can think of nothing else. All my troubles melt away, or they seem small, as if the endorphins have given me a new perspective.
I’ve so enjoyed my lessons that I’m now working towards taking a Grade 3 exam in tap. I’ve just signed up for ballet lessons too – also amazing for the body and brain. I’m so engaged during the classes plus my muscles feel like they’ve had a full work-out afterwards too!
Has Stephanie inspired you to put on your dancing shoes? Read our online dance class Top Picks and explore our full list of at home dance classes here.