Literally Life-Changing

08/05/2017 Robby

Literally Life-Changing

Volunteer dancers at Wordplay

It is truly humbling to read blogs from participants in our outdoor spectaculars – we’re just doing the things we love and it’s amazing to learn about the impact that it can have. Here’s Michelle Gerencser in her own words.

My first encounter with Southpaw Dance Company was in August 2014 when Robby Graham was our dance captain for the Great North Run Million Ceremony. This fantastic experience, dancing by Tyne with 700 others, led to being on a mailing list that was to be, quite literally, life-changing.

A few months later, my inbox lit up with an intriguing invitation to take part in another mass participation dance event, RUSH, this time in my hometown of South Shields. Until this point, my dance experience was limited to ballroom classes until the age of 16, and then seeing my daughters through medals and competitions in dance. Their amusement at my new-found enthusiasm for performing simply fuelled my determination to be involved! Nevertheless I was slightly nervous, although my trepidation arriving at the taster session soon gave way to relief when I met others in my age group who were also new to the process. From that point we never looked back, and lasting friendships were forged from that first day.

Dancing at dusk aged 45, in a car park, to the sounds of The Prodigy, throwing coloured dust in the air…I’d have never have dreamt I’d do that, but then working with Southpaw leaves you no choice. The energy and patience they devote to community groups of all abilities, whilst they teach us their incredible choreography, cannot be praised highly enough. Their passion for dance, theatre and the arts is completely infectious. Seeing Southpaw perform in Carousel, Speakeasy and Faust not only leaves you in awe, but allows you to support them too, and that feels good.

Since RUSH, opportunities arose that I could never have imagined, from musical theatre to TV, documentary and film work, acting, singing, even being a puppeteer! My social media hours are now immersed in promoting culture for all; if I’m not performing, I’m urging others to go see and get involved. Those I’ve met along the way always ask where it began, and I tell them about that first email. Southpaw took me back into dance, opened my eyes to the arts, and brought many brilliant people into my life. WordPlay in November proved to be a joyous reunion, and we were no longer the newbies!

My brother was a firm believer in filling your life with adventures and memories and this is why the last few years have been so busy for me, because I want do to exactly as he did. Southpaw gave me the platform to do that, and I’m still in mid-air, loving every crazy minute! How do you begin to say thank you?