Life Beyond Lotus – Mary’s Story

Lotus Youth Dance Company | 19 August 2021

Life Beyond Lotus - Mary, dancing at a Lotus workshop

Life Beyond Lotus

 

Mary Vassalakis

 

Hey, I’m Mary and a full time student and part-time waitress. I love learning and speaking new languages especially Greek and Spanish, Greek I speak fluently and Spanish at an aspiring masters level. I love anything that gathers communities or is cultural e.g concerts, festivals, education centres, clubs and sport. I also have been playing the piano for 8 years and do social work with the Hackney Youth Parliament.

The best thing about being in Lotus was the energy. I’ve never met such vibrant people in my life. The staff and the dancers communicate which makes the vibe so much better. It’s not like some military dance group because you’re free to be you, the routines suit the dancers not the teacher and you’re always heard. The choreography and dance styles taught bring out a certain brightness that radiates through each dancer because Lotus is an environment that makes you shine as a team, you’re not alone, not even during a solo. That’s what I loved about Lotus, I was never alone, I was cheered for and smiled at by my team in every dance class and performance. The energy at this place will never die.

Why did you join Lotus?

One of the dance teachers at Lotus was also teaching classes at my school. She said a couple of times that she taught somewhere else and it would be good for people to audition but I never really listened because I considered dance companies to be stress builders with long hours. It was only when one of my friends from school told me she actually attends Lotus that I even considered it. She told me the company was urban and cool without any rigidness so I thought an audition wouldn’t hurt, never regretted it one bit.

How has being in Lotus helped you with your current jobs/studies/life?

It taught me time management like no other activity. Although I only attended dance classes at Lotus once a week, the choreography had to be practiced for routines. I learnt to balance my free time and academic life much better. I also learnt to have patience. In a dance world not everything will be perfect and you won’t grasp onto things straight away, you need to pick at your weaknesses and embellish your strengths to become the best dancer you can. This reflects on your real life, I learnt that things won’t come to you with a click, you need to work towards it and you need to wait, if it’s something you’re passionate about you’ll find your feet.

 Are you still in contact with anyone you met at Lotus?

Of course! I’m still part of the Lotus group chat even though I’ve left! Anytime there is a dance opportunity I’m informed of it just as everyone else on the team is because Lotus is forever. You’re never really gone. I’ve made some friends that I spent more time with than others, but everyone checks in on everyone.

Did Lotus help you during a difficult time?

100%. School in this generation has a rigor environment. You have all these deadlines and all this information to absorb with such little time for yourself. Lotus gave me freedom to release stress physically and mentally. I maintained a social life while doing something I enjoy and dance is still my safe space today. When I’ve lost my path and my brain is going crazy, I dance it out.

What would you say to someone who is considering auditioning for Lotus?

At the audition, dance how you want to dance and make the set routine your own. If you add a little groove of your own you’re bound to succeed as a dancer because you’ll find your own rhythm and you’ll tell your own story through your moves and that’s what the audience wants to see. They want to see you, not the dance. The dance doesn’t matter if you’re just dancing for the sake of it. Lotus will become your safe haven and it will teach you life lessons that you won’t learn at school or at sports clubs. This is a team for life. You’ll never feel lesser than and if you ever do, dance it out.

 

Photo: Dan Martin

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