Before commencing this blog, I already knew that most of my 'best friends' were from a dance background. However, I made a general list of friends from way back up to the present day and then divided them into who gets the obligatory Christmas card and who I would trust with the deepest secrets of my life. It was the friendships formed at ballet school and then in a string of ballet companies that made the latter list and whose names tugged at the strings of my heart with cherished memories mostly funny, some sad and some tragic.
Your magical dance studio friendships may begin when you all take your first classes together and are so nervous of the surroundings, the teacher, even the other parents. At some point you may say a goodbye to those staying happily kicking their legs around class in a recreational dance school and progress to a more serious school. But be secure in the knowledge that anyone you meet who loves being in a dance studio is worthy of being a truly great friend. Whether meeting at the studios once a week or being together in dressing rooms and studios for five or more hours daily - dance forms strong and lasting friendships.
A great dance friendship can span the time between doing Tiny Toe classes together when you rush excitedly around in a dirty leotard (it may have started off clean when you left home), badly done hair and probably bare foot because you just HATE those ballet shoes, to waiting together in the wings in pointe shoes with nervous anticipation while the orchestra finishes up the overture to Swan Lake and you are both experiencing that adrenaline rush just before you go onstage together for the Act 1 Waltz or Pas de Trois as professional ballet dancers in a company.
In between these two worlds, encompassing up to roughly 16 years, your dance friends will hopefully accompany you through some of the most thrilling and terrifying experiences with love, support, humour, loyalty and most of all complete understanding. Together you will master the art of surviving teenage years and your parents and those dance teachers who never give up on demanding you give more than your very best every class, rehearsal and performance. You will discuss and dissect boy/girl friend issues, sewing pointe shoes (girls) and conquering those dreaded dance belts (boys). AND, endlessly moan about school - not dance school which feels like a second home, but that institution which wishes to fill your head with academic matters when all you really want to learn is to master the art of five pirouettes or that confounded 'cabriole'.
The greatest dance friendships are often formed whilst training as a class, learning as a team and performing side by side during childhood and adolescence. Encouraging one another when the dice seemed loaded against one is essential and quite natural in a lasting dance friendship. Your dance friends will see you and love you at your very worst: red faced, sweaty, stinky footed, cranky and mostly in hideous leotards and tights chosen by fiendish dance teachers to reveal every single curve, presumed or otherwise. Your ballet buns will flourish from untidy and slipping out to flawless perfection and practise make up sessions will be riotous leaving the bathroom in a never to be forgotten mess.
Unlike many friendships formed at school your dance friends will completely understand your total and undying commitment to dance, they will know what it is like to miss that school camp again, or be so behind in science you might even have forgotten the teacher's name. They know the agony of the missed sleep overs or family cinema trips due to an exam class or competitions. Your dance friends can make you laugh when you want to cry because that assignment is late again and above all they understand that a dance school is another planet altogether and that the aliens often reside at said academic school.
Dance friendships can mean sharing long car journeys starting in the middle of the night, doing make-up in the jerky car because Mum took the wrong turn and the competition has started. Wandering around competition and dance venues all day with your dance buddies and without the Mums or teachers worrying where you are.
Dance buddy sleep overs watching countless dance DVDs, old dance concerts and the endless choreographing of brilliant routines. Eating more pizzas and junk food than all of your 'normal' friends put together and arriving for class the next day perfectly groomed and ready for another round of endless critique and hard graft.
Starting dance exams as early as 5 or 6 years and even dancing in concerts from the age of two or three years forges incredible bonds of friendship. Dance students, in particular full time dance students, mature way faster than other children and learn to deal with gossip, jealousy, rivalry, disappointment, failure and success with the incredible help of their special friends.
The dance scene whether at a dance school or in dance companies (in my case ballet companies) permits us to create solid, binding and lasting friendships with amazing people from different lands, cultures, schools and backgrounds.
Let the Friendships begin!