Stephy has an amazing story. There are some powerful things in here, especially for those who support a dancer in their family. Please read and enjoy and think about how you support the dreams and ambitions of those around you. Be a builder not a downer!
I was born to parents who didn’t really want a child and as a result I spend a lot of time at my grandparents’ place. I was a very restless child, always moving, always calling for attention as my grandparents put it, they did however notice I seemed to have a particular liking towards moving to a piece of music over everything else, so they enrolled me in a predance class at a local studio at the age of 3. They might have been hoping that it would wear me out a little, but if so they were sorely mistaken. I absolutely fell in love with dance and did little else anymore, I also started voicing the desire to do this forever. By the time I reached the age of 6 my parents became a little more involved with my life because of school and they weren’t at all happy that I was taking classes at 2 different studios by that time and even less so when I told them I wanted to be a professional dancer. Dance wasn’t a real job in their opinion and therefore not a career option, my parents would probably have pulled me out of dance at that point if it hadn’t been for my grandparents stepping in to tell them that I’d probably grow out of it and that going to dance at least gave them a reprieve from my constant bouncing around the room.
I did not grow out of it, instead I started asking for more and better dance education and with the help of my grandparents found a suitable studio by the time I was 8. They had competition teams I could join and some perfomance opportunities. I loved it there, however there was one small problem: this new studio didn’t offer ballet. So I kept taking ballet at my old studio, while discovering new styles like hiphop, jazz and contemporary at the new one. Soon I had dance classes every day of the week on top of school. Which was probably for the best, because while I was perfectly happy at the studio, I felt thoroughly miserable at home and at school. As my parents had never really wanted a child they also didn’t exactly know how to raise one, whereas at school I started to get bullied. Around the same time the school advice for me to get tested, it turned out I have ADHD.
This diagnosis improved some parts of my life, my grandparents have been a lot more patient with me since and it gave me acces to the help I needed. My parents on the other hand decided it was a load of rubbish and that I just needed to try harder. At school nothing really changed much either, so I took to the one thing that always made me happy: dance. The more time I spend in the dance studio the happier I was, I felt like I was allowed to be myself and as I moved into my teenage years I would learn to process my emotions through dance, which improved the theatrical aspect of my dancing a great deal too. My parents started to get angrier with me over my desire to become a dancer once I started middle school. I was supposed to grow out of this desire after all and it was time to pick something they considered to be a real job, my continued refusal to do so was highly aggravating to them. But the more they lashed out at me over it, the more time I spend in dance. This was of course pretty expensive and my grandparents could no longer cover it all. My parents were obviously not about to pay for it either, so I started babysitting to make up for the difference.
Within a few years I was paying for my full dance education myself by using every free moment to do babysitting jobs, teaching privates to the younger kids at the studio and other small jobs. My school marks suffered greatly from this of course, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to dance. People around me cared though, my parents gave me hell for it and plenty of my teachers said it was such a pity that someone with so much potential was throwing it all away for a child’s dream. Eventually I quit school altogether and while I do not advice this for anyone, I actually value education, I also don’t regret my decision. Under the circumstances it was more beneficial to me to quit so I did just that.
Today I am 25 years old, happier than I’ve ever been and have actually made dance my profession. Just like I said I would when I was little. I’m not a world famous star, but I work freelance in and around Belgium, grabbing every opportunity to travel as I do so. I also teach workshops and fill in for my friends who teach from time to time. As I am starting to think more about having a child of my own however I feel a stronger pull towards teaching myself and settling down in one place. I’m very exited to find out what this new venture will bring me and I might just decide to finish the rest of my education as well, who knows?
Thank you for sharing people’s stories on your blog, I think it’s a really beautiful initiative as everyone’s story and goals are so different.