Updated: Jun 21
Through-out my dancing career I've been very lucky to have been taught, trained and coached by some of the best dancers and teachers in our industry. For almost 40 years I've been garnering knowledge and information from the best in the business, with many leaving a lasting impression on not only my dancing, but me as a person too.
One such teacher, Richard Gleave (we often refer to him as the 'Yoda' of the Ballroom world. Not because he is a small little green fella with unimaginable power and understanding of the force, but because of his immense knowledge. However, his hair is a little fluffy now and at times he speaks in riddles. I'm kidding....). One of the things that Richard used to say with regards choreography was to make sure you had plenty of toast and then a smattering of ice cream. A diet based only on toast is pretty boring. It can certainly provide you with plenty of sustenance and you can dress it up with lashings of butter and maybe some Marmite too (if you like that sort of thing - I do as it happens), but ultimately it's just toast. Now ice cream is a bit of a treat and it should be treated that way. Gorging yourself on a tub of Ben & Jerry’s is always great at the start, but eat it too quick and you'll get brain freeze. Have one too many mouthfuls and you're going to feel sick. Then you'll be put off it for a while. Such a waste... Stick to it being a simple treat when you've had enough toast!
So a balanced and enjoyable dance performance should have plenty of toast, the sustenance so to speak, with lovely little dollops of ice cream every now and then to add a little sparkle and interest! You can even add a little chocolate sauce or hundreds and thousands...
This concept can be applied to dance teachers/coaches too. I've learnt from people that are most definitely toast. At the time it all seemed a little dull, but by goodness it gave me so much sustenance for my future career. There were other times in my career too when I was really, really hungry for toast and it completely satisfied my hunger. A few times the toast was too much to digest in one sitting, so a bit of water to wash it down (practice) made it all the easier to go back for more. Then there were times when it was a bit stale and put me off toast all together. Plenty of glasses of water later (lots of practice) and the toast didn't seem so bad again, but every now and then you'd find a slice that had a bit of mould on it and would leave you feeling a bit nauseous. When that kept happening, you knew it was probably time to change brand and look for something more fresh.
On the flip side, I've also had the pleasure of ice cream a plenty in lessons too. No sustenance, just pure unadulterated pleasure. Sometimes you've just got to treat yourself and once you've had your fill of all that toast, it's nice to have something to look forward to. But a word of warning - some ice cream is simply empty calories. You think you want the treat and go to the trouble of queuing up at the van on the beach, because it's a hot day and everyone else is doing it. You don't want to miss out. So you queue, pay an exorbitant price for what you think is going to really give you that big sugar rush, and then finally you have that spiral of white, creamy opulence in your hand. Some of it melts down the sides, some of it falls on the floor - you simply can't catch all of it quickly enough - and so you gobble it up before you lose it to the sun and the pavement. Before you know it, you're down to a small little triangle of wafer cone and the ice cream delight has all gone. Did it even taste of anything? Was that brain freeze actually worth it? In this heat all you really needed was plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated; that would actually have completely satisfied your needs in the hot sun.
So you feel glum and think it was a bit of a waste. But at least you've got that ice cream stain on your t-shirt and red sauce dribble on your trainers from when it melted down the side of the cone. Something to remember the day by, eh? I've had PLENTY of lessons like these....
It doesn't always have to be this way of course. The finest chefs know how to cook up the dessert of your dreams that not only satisfy but don't give you brain freeze, a messy top or indeed fill you with empty calories. These artisans of the dessert trolley use the finest ingredients and well-practised methods to bring you the best experience possible, that will almost always compliment your previous serving of toast. And paired with some fine refreshment, you know that you're going to get your money's worth.
I've been lucky as I've experienced it all. The wholemeal toast, the seeded batch, the home baked loaf and even the mouldy bread. There's also been the brain freezes, the empty calories, hundreds and thousands all over the floor but also the gourmet delights and the most special of special treats.
It is all about finding a brand or taste that you like the best, but most importantly a balance between enough toast and then some ice cream as a treat. You only get this through experience and of course studying the back of the packet. If you're the kind of person that likes a dollop of ice cream actually on top of your toast, then sadly, I'm really not sure I can help you!
Thank you Richard for all your words of wisdom over the years - I wish I had listened even more! Your toast was very satisfying and there was always just enough ice cream to keep it interesting!
Enjoyed reading this? Well I've started a new video serial on DizzyfeetTV called 'My Inspiration'. Check out the link below to watch episode one - Alan & Donna Shingler and William Pino & Alessandra Bucciarelli.