A mix of emotions and memories run through me every time I think of those two words.
Never in my life have I had such an intensive good feeling about what I do.
I constantly hear from the girls in our dance class: “My life has completely changed since I started dancing and joined this group”. And no matter how many times I hear it, it always warms my heart and it makes me feel so good. Every single time!
What is it about this group that consumes me?
I bet it’s different for everyone – maybe part of it is the infectious positive energy during the class, the connection you have with the other dance girls, the small details that keeps you on your toes even after years of dancing, wanting to learn more, but in my opinion and from my experience as the choreographer of this group, it is mostly the warm & welcoming community, where everyone is equal, no matter what experience or background.
As one of my dance girls Christine said: “It is an hour or two a week away from being you – be it a mum , wife, partner , professional worker or whatever. You leave everything behind, walk into that studio and enjoy some exercise while having fun with fab people”.
I am thankful every single day for all these amazing people who have walked into my life or who I met through dancing and I am so grateful to call them my ‘Dance Fam’.
How it all started
A few years ago I had this thought in my head that one day I would love to set up a dance group. A group that would be open to everyone, inexperienced or experienced dancers, or even those who never got a chance to learn to dance, but always wanted to give it a go no matter what age, what gender or background. A group of people who share one thing; the love of dance! And to be honest it still feels so surreal that this dream of mine has actually become a reality and now I’m sitting here, writing this blog about how it all started.
I trained as a gymnast from a young age, becoming a champion of Slovakia in Rhytmic Gymnastics in 1996. I took up dancing at the age of 12 and instantly fell in love with the art of dance. From then I participated in many high end theatre shows as a part of the dance group, had many stage performances throughout Europe and I enjoyed every second of it.
I remember even as a little girl, I’ve always had this dream of one day forming my own dance group.
When I moved to Ireland in summer 2006, the first thing I did was to look for the dance groups in the area that I could join and be a part of but because I was living in Wicklow Town and didn’t have a car at that stage, unfortunately I didn’t find anything.
Since I have moved to Ireland I’ve gone through years of teaching different fitness classes and eventually when Zumba® took over the world and became such a big craze, I was happy to spread the Zumba® fever around my area. I will never forget my very first Zumba® class back in 2011 only two days after I officially became a certified Zumba® instructor.
I was nervous as anyone would be before their first class. I had two days to choreograph & remember 12 different routines. I remember I was in the staff room in Shoreline Leisure Greystones where I worked at the time and I was trying to go through all the routines in my head when the door suddenly opened and one of the receptionists came in and asked me to come have a look to the reception area. I walked out that door and I saw the longest queue I had ever seen. People were lining up from the reception desk all the way to the car park and as I looked at the booking sheet I saw the number 70 and it just kept growing and growing. At that point the manager told me, we have to change the plan and instead of holding the class in the studio, I will have to teach the class in the sports hall to make sure everyone will fit in. My heart was jumping out of my chest, I felt extremely anxious and I literally thought I’m going to sh**t myself. The pressure was unreal. By the time I had to walk up to that stage in the sports hall full of excited people waiting to experience this “ZUMBA®” thing that everyone was talking about, the number on the sign up sheet was 150!
I will never forget the emotions I felt at that point. I felt extremely nervous but excited at the same time. I’ve always loved being on the stage and perform and I think as it was my very first Zumba® class, it was a fear of the unknown that I was nervous about. When I was standing there looking at that HUGE crowd through the glass door, it hit me… I said to myself “VICKY, IT IS HAPPENING”! At that moment I literally ‘grew a pair’, took a deep breath & walked through the crowd to that stage.
I got up, grabbed the mic, said a few words about Zumba®, about me & shouted out loud “LET’S ZUMBAAAAAAA®!!!”
I can’t explain the energy I felt at that point. The excitement and positive energy in the room literally lifted the roof, there were smiles all round, people screaming and woohoooo-ing & I knew it’s going to be AMAZING!
The second the music started playing all my anxiety has disappeared & I literally felt like I was on top of the world and I enjoyed every second of that class!
I instantly knew that this is what I wanted to do. I just wanted to dance and share my love for dance with everyone!!!
A few years later I was a choreographer for ‘Strictly from the Movies’ a dance fundraiser in aid of The Gavin Glynn Foundation. It was such a great experience for me as a choreographer and organiser but also for all those amazing people who took a chance and decided to dance for such a great cause. People who went far beyond their comfort zone, but had the best time while learning something new, something they would normally probably never got a chance to do. Im talking about men and women from so many different work & sport backgrounds. Rugby players, stay at home moms, beauticians, triathletes, restaurateurs and even a politician and the list just goes on. People who would never even dreamt of dancing on the stage for such a huge audience or never in a million years thought they’d be able to perform for such a huge crowd. But here they were, knowing it was for such an amazing cause they took a chance and did it.
I remember seeing them all giving it their everything every single rehearsal, overcoming their insecurities, loving every second of the learning process, but most importantly loving the social aspect of it all. There were so many amazing friendships and connections made in the process & it was just so inspiring for me.
It was that point when I decided. Im going to try and keep this going and set up a group, a group where every class feels like a group rehearsal!
In May 2016, when I finally designed this little poster advertising ‘Adult Group Dance Classes coming soon to Greystones. No experience needed’, I posted it on Facebook & the rest is history.
Since then I haven’t looked back and I now understand 100% what Steve Jobs meant when he said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle”.
And I finally feel like I have found it. I absolutely LOVE sharing my love for dance with all my amazing students, who I am so thankful to call my FRIENDS.
Two years on & we’re growing bigger and getting stronger.
We’ve created not just a dance group but a dance community, where people feel like they can let go & enjoy themselves -we’ve created THE DANCE FAM!
And I know one thing for sure…
IT IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST DANCING!!!