I Dance (and the music it exposes one to) I feel has given me an advantage. Dance is something everyone should do, something I love and will never stop doing. Dance and skating have not only been an opportunity to express myself and develop as a person and artist, but have added energy, purpose and diversity to my music too.
I trained in ballet, Spanish dancing, street dance and some partner dancing as well as doing several years of figure skating. Spanish came extremely naturally because of my music background.
I lived the dream.
I became something no one ever thought I would . And a school teacher who once said “I can’t IMAGINE that girl playing an instrument”, when someone asked me if I wanted to try something, and I was teased a lot by the boys at school for being unattractive and they never wanted to include me in any of their games for that reason. At one time I had a particular teacher who used to literally harass me for being too shy, and that made me recoil and be even more self-conscious. And many more painful things like that. This was what I had for my entire growing up).
People now actually don’t believe me when I tell them some of these stories. And I am still surprised if anyone says they think I’m beautiful. But it makes no difference to me whether they think so or not.
I never asked anyone to call me pretty or talented, and the fact that no one did only made me more strong and beautiful on the inside.
I was sure life had more to offer than any of them could begin to imagine.
All I can say is that your inner beauty will eventually be expressed outwardly too. When you stop looking in the mirror, and just work and work and work at the right things without looking back, you will one day see yourself by accident in a reflection somewhere – perhaps in people’s eyes – and be amazed.
Years later some of the people who never had faith in me would say, “Well I never. What a surprise to see YOU turn out like THIS”. Or they just had no words. People who used to be rude to me now actually ask me for advice.
Skating on a burning bridge
I had an unusual, interesting and challenging adventure that people keep on asking me about. I also did this to keep inspiring myself never to give up. My skating story in a way represents my whole life in skating form. It was never easy, every step of the way was hard – and amazing.
I realised there was more to skating that what I saw in Pretoria or even on TV.
I worked my way through the academy tests. There was one test I did where a German coach tested me and gave me 10/10 for my spirals (balletic positions held while gliding across the ice) – the highest she said she had ever given. Even her own students didn’t normally get more than 5 she sai
At that time Estonia (previously a part of Russia) was not a Schengen state, and the only way to get a visa was to go and apply in London. Among other challenges the ticket for the particular flight I booked was also cancelled just before the trip – nothing was going my favour at all, and it was only thanks to the most extraordinary travel agent I have ever had that I got there (and on top of that he offered to find me a sponsor for my skating without me asking).
But by the end of the week it was also one of the most invigorating times of my life. There were many skaters there that year from many different countries. I did a very short routine in the gala with some spirals, and years after people told me that they still remember that nice moment when a South African came and did that.
I was the only South African ever to have attended any of the international camps as far as I know. We had four to seven hours a day of training, some on ice, some off-ice, ballet classes, other dance or stretch or fitness classes, and a public gala at the end of each week. The discipline and manners of the skaters and the hard work was incredible.”Don’t be afraid!”, “Eat the ice!”, “If you fall you fall”, etc. Mishin himself.
The first thing people think when they see someone they think is beautiful or achieving something is – you must have been born with all of that, lots of money, talent and beauty. I wouldn’t say I started off with any of those things. What it takes is courage, hope, perseverance. Fire. I have seen many skaters who have had skating training served to them on a sliver platter since they were small, and they aren’t amazing. They take it for granted. Its what you make of it. How you do it. Life enrichment, dance training and music are what made my skating different and special to me. I was never spoon fed, I did my own choreography, designed and put together own outfits, and did my own music.
If someone says to you, you are inclined to have this and that limitations, you’ll never reach this, you’re bad at that – just use everything to improve yourself. If I had accepted the limitations other people had set for me or cared what people thought, I never would have done any of this.