A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to have my sister visit me for a few days so I thought it was the perfect time for me to introduce her to my story. Having known me for all my life and me being her much-awaited baby sister, and her my exemplary big sister, we are definitely two peas in a pod.
Growing up together Rebecca and I were very happy, busy girls. After school, our evenings were full of many hobbies and activities. You name it we did it. At the age of three, I joined my sister for ballet, tap, and jazz classes every Saturday with Lynn McCheyne. It was actually not something I loved at first, only doing it because my sister did, so we never imagined that chubby little Harriet would become a professional ballerina.
But my love for dance developed quickly. Our Mother has always had a passion for dance and music, having performed in local theatre productions herself when she was younger, so the theatre has always been part of our lives. We can sing the words to every musical out there and I remember watching the dance numbers longing to be the girls in beautiful dresses, both of us mimicking their movements (probably not quite as gracefully as we thought). Our staircase would become the Von Trapp mansion; my sister carrying me to bed as we sang ‘So long, Farewell’, or our lounge would transform into the final scene from Greece; both of us dressed up like ‘Bad Sandy’. From Calamity Jane to My Fair Lady, it was a constant musical at our house.
However, my sister and I were never more excited than when we were going to the theatre to watch Mummy dance. She was beautiful. It was just amazing to see how glamorous she was on stage. I can definitely say I got my dancing talent from my mum’s side. Once in a while we watched rehearsals and joining the premiere after party was so grown up. When she brought home all her costumes we were mesmerised, willing to dance around in them all day wanting to be just like Mummy.
But it was not just musicals we loved. Rebecca and I seemed to have a flair for choreography too (again, we seemed great in our six and eight year old imaginations). We would create whole evenings filled with various dance numbers to present to our parents. The number of home videos we have of us dancing is endless and watching these memories are a much loved past time of ours. It is also funny to see I had quite a hip-hop dance style going on back then. Not sure where that went.
We took things one step further with our two best friends by forming The Spice Girls (minus one) and creating a dance to every single song they ever had. On holiday the four of us even performed as The Spice Girls at our hotel evening entertainment shows. Now that, for a 5-year old me was pure stardom.
With all these amazing sisterly moments, dance become a great love of both of ours. We were dancing at least three times a week and started Ballroom and Street dance classes with friends. We did all of our exams but never competitions. It was just something we loved and had so much fun doing. We performed at our primary school shows, which I loved as I got to dance with my sister and her friends from the year above. Miss McCheyne put on performances every two years making us feel so professional with the makeup and costumes. I remember dancing on stage with pure joy. At that age, there were no nerves, just gap-tooth smiles and proud parents in the audience.
When I was eleven and got accepted into The Hammond School to start as a dance student it was a big decision for the family. The plan was for me to live at the school and come home on weekends but at the time I was too excited to realise what a big change that would be at home. For me, I was moving somewhere new, living and dancing with all my friends, something my family were never part of. But for them and my sister I was being taken out of their everyday lives, somewhere I had always been. This must have been so hard and I hate the thought that I did that to them.
Rebecca was amazing. This was, of course, something she would have loved to do as well and her little sister moving away must have been so difficult but she never showed me anything but support and encouragement. Always so interested in my life and proud of my achievements. She came, along with the rest of my family, to my end of year school productions and loved watching. I always awaited her feedback as she knows what’s good and what’s not. I even now get my corrections from her.
So, my sister and I have shared this passion for dance all our lives and we grew up both loving something together. Dance moved us far apart from each other, even countries apart but it will always be something that keeps us close. We still enjoy a dance class together when I am home and this is always a highlight of my holiday. And the fact that she still remembers dance routines we made up when we were young amazes me.
She is the best sister in the world.