5,4,3,2,1 Things; Cat’s Dance School (Guest Blog)

Hello everyone! It’s been a whole month since my first guest blog from Boy and Bear and now it’s time for the next one! This month, the very lovely Catriona from Cat’s Dance School popped by to tell me all about her 5,4,3,2,1 Things. Over to Cat…

Cutting the Cake, wedding photoHi, I’m Catriona aka Cat from Cat’s Dance School, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Whilst I did go to dance college and train to be a dancer and dance teacher my education and career are a little more complicated than that…well why do the same as everyone else?!
I have a Royal Academy of Dance, Dance Teaching Diploma and Registered Teacher status (Ballet) and was one of the last people to get to train for the Teaching Diploma. I also have an Associate Teacher qualification with The Imperial Society of Teacher of Dance (Modern and Tap). However, I then decided to have a slight career change and train to be a Primary School Teacher but decided to get a degree and then do the PGDE Primary Teaching as this would take one year less to achieve (big skiver I know!). So, I studied Events Management, because who doesn’t want to be a wedding planner, then the PGDE.
Catrionas DaughtersSo, basically I can plan and manage your wedding, teach you a wedding dance and then educate your children until they are 14, whilst teaching them dance!! Oh and I recently completed NHS breastfeeding peer support training and can support you on your breastfeeding journey if that is what you choose!

Meanwhile, I met the boy of my dreams (yes my husband is 9 years younger than me but tells me he keeps waiting for me to prove that I’m the grownup!), got married and we have a bump due April when our two daughters will be 3 and a half and two!! Who needs sleep…it’s overrated anyway!

So, here are my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Things:

5 Inspirations

1. My mum and dad are my biggest inspiration. They always encouraged me to follow my dreams whilst thinking about the realities of how I might sustain myself. I am trying so hard to be the kind of parents they have been to me by teaching my children how to fail and how to pick yourself up and try again or find a new path when unsuccessful.
As a dancer I was never your typical ballerina figure, nor did I have the ideal feet for it, but that did not stop me achieving my dream of becoming a Royal Academy of Dance, Dance Teacher. My parents were there behind me every step of the way and I don’t think I’ve thanked them enough, so thank you mum and dad from the bottom of my heart.

Catrionas Daughters2. My beautiful girls inspire me with their own brand of crazy! They fill our lives with such fun and madness that I wouldn’t change for the world. They are the reason I get up in the morning and stay up so late working on the businesses. If they’re not stripping at the window to sunbathe naked then they can probably be found climbing in or up something they really shouldn’t be!

3. Callum (my poor husband) inspires me every day with his ability to put up with my nonsense!! He has definitely learned the art of selective hearing but when I need to sound something out he is there for me. He is a self-employed electrician and is such a proud daddy to his two girls. He inspires me with his ability to be such a friendly and approachable electrician when he’s always telling me he hates people and is a self-confessed hermit!

Dancers at the Bar4. My dancers are a constant source of inspiration. Currently I have sixteen year olds who are nearly ready to sit their Advanced 1 Tap and Modern exams. This is a big deal as these are the equivalent of second year of dance college and they are only attending dance classes part time. I also get inspired by the teeniest dancers who have the biggest imagination and sense of awe and really get involved in the imaginative dances we do. I get such immense satisfaction from teaching all my dancers from the babies to the horrible teenagers (they know I love them really)!

5. Last but not least, I’m inspired by other working mums who run businesses from home. It amazes me how creative and productive other work from home mums can be. However, those mums that have immaculate homes with no giant pile of washing and dishes freak me out…I mean who has time to be fastidious and awesome mums, business owners and wives?! I’m a firm believer in piles! It’s like to do lists which are my other favourite!
I have recently found a really supportive online group of entrepreneurs and it inspires me how there is always someone online to give moral support or advice when needed. I really get inspired by women building up women. This is how it should be, I think, not this trend of trolling and ripping other women for their choices.

4 Tools That I Love To Use

1. I am definitely about to show my age but OMG I love digital music because when I started dance teaching I seriously used to humph around a huge bag with a CD player and a big case of CDs! At one point I had a wheeled suitcase with my boom box and another bag with books, shoes and CDs. Now I have my little speakers that are so loud and an ipod or my phone for music. How life has changed…yes I am getting old.

Pointe Shoes - pexels.com
Photo credit: Pexels.com

2. Pointe shoes are still one of my favourite tools of the Ballet trade. I’m so glad that I don’t need to wear them anymore but I love getting to train young dancers how to use theirs and dance through the pain! Pointe shoes are a feat of engineering and if you ever have a spare moment to google how pointe shoes are made I’m sure you’ll be as amazed as me too. I do miss getting to tie ballet shoe ribbons, there is something very special about wearing a beautiful pair of satin ballet shoes with ribbons.

3. Props! What dancer doesn’t love props? Especially ones for little ones like scarves and wands. Leg stretches against a wallMy new Dance With Me parent and baby classes have meant that I have got to buy new props for class and I just love my little finger puppets and the ballerina dollies. Props are not just for wee ones and my teenagers also love the big silk scarves for Ballet and getting to have props in the dance shows.

4. A wall. Yes, a wall! A good wall can help a dancer get into the splits. I often use the wall to assist with splits training. Dancers can lie on the floor and use gravity to help their legs get into the box splits or stand on one leg and push one leg up the wall into the splits. I also like to occasionally use the wall and a slidy bit floor to practise jumps. These are always good fun and the dancers love to have a ‘race’ to see who can push/jump the furthest away from the wall!

3 Things That Make My Work Unique

Catrionas dancers1. My dancers. My pupils make my work unique as they are all individuals with individual temperaments, strengths, weaknesses etc. No two classes are ever the same and this is one of the reasons that I got into dance teaching as I loved the idea of never having two days the same. I love that my dancers want to tell me about the things they’ve done outside of dancing and even when it’s something that’s stressing them out I feel such a sense of privilege that they want to tell me about their lives outside of dancing.

2. My work hours. I start teaching after school finishes so work late then often do paperwork in the evening after a late dinner. This way of working really suits me as I’m not a morning person, although I can’t work as late now that I have the girls to wake me up nice and early (she says typing this at 3am!). It makes me sad when I’m working and miss the bedtime routine but I always get my morning snuggles so that almost makes up for it.

Dancers with certificates3. Me! Although I have other teachers that work for me who influence the dance school I think I am one of the things that make Cat’s Dance School unique. I love the immense sense of satisfaction I get from teaching a child how to dance (or an adult). When I see a child grasping a step that they’ve struggled with, learning a choreography or shining on stage I know all the hard work is worthwhile. I love to teach them that it’s ok to not be the best at everything and to get inspiration from others that can do something better than them because that dancer will also be learning from them. Healthy competition, positive feedback, learning to fail, high expectations, belief that each dancer can achieve high standards, and cultivating a love of dance, is what keeps me so passionate about dance teaching. Other dance schools might teach RAD Ballet and ISTD Tap and Modern and all the other styles of dance we teach but they don’t have crazy old me at the helm.

2 Mistakes I’ve Made In The Past

1. Wow where do I start?! Who has only made two mistakes, not me that’s certain. I think the biggest mistake I made was to forget to market my dance school while retraining as a Primary Teacher and having my beautiful girls. I got lazy because word of mouth had always been the thing that worked best for me. But the advance of technology and all the online forums and groups were sadly neglected by me and my school has shrunk as no one knows I’m here! However, I’m making amends now and I’m learning all about online marketing and I am getting much better with using technology to my advantage. I forgot that I was key to the dance school. I had such fantastic teachers working for me that I forgot that I needed to steer the ship and keep it on course. My rebrand from Catriona Hogg School of Dance to Cat’s Dance School and the launch of the Dance With Me parent and baby classes, combined with my new marketing skills will hopefully see a growth in pupil numbers this year as people find out what awesome things we get up to.

2. Leaving things to the last minute! I am the queen of procrastination and I can often be found doing an all nighter to get something done that I put off to the last minute. The worst is probably when I leave printing to the last minute because inevitably my printer starts running out of ink or I run out of paper! I once left my programs for the dance show printing overnight and when I woke up I realised I’d printed the fronts twice so I had to re do a whole batch so that they had both the outside and inside of the program! I also recently printed a batch of fliers with a spelling mistake, oops! Must remember to leave time for proof reading.

1 Project I Am Proud Of

Toddler in Tutu1. I am very proud to have launched my own baby dance classes, Dance With Me. I secretly love teaching the babies the best (shh don’t tell the older girls!) and have always wanted to have classes for children even younger than my preschool classes. I have loved getting to plan the lessons and have used my Primary Teaching knowledge combined with my Dance Teacher knowledge to produce classes that have educational elements of numeracy and literacy in line with the Curriculum for Excellence and also introducing dance skills. I have been told that when I teach the younger dancers I become a whole other person…I think that’s a compliment to put alongside the one when I was told I should be a childrens’ TV presenter! It’s early days but I really hope to expand these classes and maybe even have some in the local nurseries once bump is born and is a little bigger.

So, I’m a little crazy (who isn’t?), love babies and have a whole lot of love for teaching dance. I’m inspired by people who build people up and try to do the same in my daily life. I wouldn’t trade all my daily madness for the world and am eternally grateful to all those who keep me going.

Thank you Kelly for this opportunity to think about my business from a different angle and I hope my honesty might help others push on and find a different way if at first they don’t succeed or to be proud of their house piles because it’s like a to do list!! If you live in Edinburgh or the surrounding area feel free to check out my awesome dance school.
Xx Cat

Cats Dance School Logo

Thank you so much to Cat for her really lovely blog post and all her craziness! I’m just happy to know I am not the only one with little “to do list” piles around my house!

I really hope you are enjoying the 5,4,3,2,1,Things series so far. We’ll have another one in April.

Kelly x

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