When did you study at LCDS? Why did you decide to study contemporary dance?
I did a one-year certificate course at The Place from September 1980 to May 1981. I’d been passionate about dance in high school, but then at university in Los Angeles and in France, I decided to earn my bachelor’s degree in History, doing dance classes only occasionally. But as soon as I graduated - literally about ten days after the end of my last course - I was on a plane back to Europe and settled in to work at Theatre Royal Bath. It was there that I decided I had to make a go at studying dance professionally, since I still absolutely loved it. I auditioned for The Place and began full-time dance study in the autumn of 1980.
Tells us a little bit about what happened since! Was there a moment you realised there was something else you wanted to pursue instead of dance?
After my year at The Place, I left England and enrolled at the North Carolina School of the Arts to continue dance training. At 25, I was considered a little bit old in the dancing world, so I hoofed it up to New York City to try my luck. I ended up performing with two female choreographers, Bonnie Weins and Neta Pulvermacher, a brilliant Israeli dancer and choreographer from Juilliard.
But in my late 20s, I began to feel that maybe dance wasn’t the lifelong career passion that I had thought it was. I wasn’t earning much money - pretty common for dancers - and I was feeling restless. So, making a hard but necessary decision, I stopped full-time dance. I ended up earning a master’s degree in English from Teachers College, Columbia University. I moved back to California, then to Chicago, and finally once more back to New York, and all my jobs during those years were as a student advisor or other administrator in the university setting.
What is it you do now? Tell us about your business/career/role!
In 2015, I retired early from my university administrative job to try to fulfill another of my life’s dreams: to write and publish books! In 2014 my first book appeared, a memoir entitled I Dream Of You Still: Early Years In Bath. Then came Beatrice Aflame, a novel about love between an ordinary woman and a Roman Catholic priest. Next came Philippa Feast, a quirky romantic novel set among university students. Then Paris Broke Me (In), another memoir, this one telling the story of my colourful struggles and victories as an undergraduate at the Sorbonne in Paris. Finally, just 2019, my first foray into the murder-mystery genre has seen the light of day: The Voices Of Saint Bede’s.
What did you take away from your creative education? What stuck? Is there something you still find useful?
Dance was incredibly key in my formation! I will forever feel grateful to my teachers Jane Dudley, Nina Fonaroff, Juliet Fisher, Peter Connell, and others. The discipline instilled was excellent: nothing gets done in one’s life without discipline and daily application. Also, learning to accept criticism humbly, to listen and learn from those wiser and more experienced than you. Breathing: many times as a dancer I would find myself too tense. Breathe, relax, focus. Don’t rush. Rushing is not beautiful or productive, in fact. It is just soul-destroying.
What kind of skills were you able to transfer into your current career? How do you use your creativity today?
Hard work, focus, quite a bit of perfectionism, and allowing my mind to wonder and wander into intriguing, sometimes risky new terrain. I hope that more and more people will discover and enjoy my books!