‘I used to be addicted to dancing the Hokey Cokey, then I turned myself around, that’s what it’s all about’.
As jokes go, it’s about as bad as the dance itself, unless running into the centre of a circle with the specific aim of crashing into everyone else is your idea of fun — most people nowadays probably wouldn’t encounter it outside a children’s birthday party.
Although the idea ‘I turned myself around, and that’s what it’s all about’ seems very much to do with the New Year, being as it is a time of personal renewal for many. Often in life too, there is a moment when situations turn around, either through our own efforts, or fate has intervened, or a combination of both. Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet, and our own charity, describes the moment (in Come Dance With Me, her memoir) when in 1919, just before her 21 birthday, she successfully auditioned for the Royal Opera House as a premiere danseuse, after working at the less balletic Lyceum Theatre. As turning points go, this is pretty spectacular bearing in mind what happened after that.
Our charity’s aim is to help dance professionals to turn their situation around whatever the need, which can be linked to financial pressures. Here’s another joke — Q: what do people spend at the North Pole — A: cold cash! Except cash isn’t cold, if it is given through the lens of kindness and understanding — sometimes it can be very valuable, even close to being a life saver. Often though, illness or other life events can deliver a harsh blow, often unexpectedly too, and coming out of that requires time, support and often courage. More optimistically, it can just be about looking at new ways to earn a living, and recognising the talents that you have.
The organisation Turning Point have for fifty years assisted individuals, particularly those with substance abuse backgrounds, learning difficulties or mental health issues, to find a new direction in life. What I particularly like is their strap-line ‘Inspired by Possibility’, which has such a positive connection — no thinking about what has gone wrong, just possibility for the future.
We will continue to find ways to help dance professionals ‘turn themselves around’, linking up sometimes with other charities and organisations. Dancing the Hokey Cokey will be optional.