Thinking of performing a dance show? Not sure how it would be like, feel like, look like? We ask Marika Mellier, a student-turned-performer to get an inside glimpse at the performing world!
Marika Mellier has performed about 15 bachata shows throughout 2014 within both London Touch and Ladies Touch London; two bachata dance teams directed by London-based bachata teachers Julian Mister-M and Angela Mariano, and part of the bigger Island Touch family created by bachata stars Ataca Jorgie and La Alemana.
Throughout her performance journey, Marika has performed at various popular venues across London including Bar Salsa, La Pollera Colora and King’s College, as well as at international festivals like AA Latin Festival St Omer France, Sexy and Sensual Festival and Mambo City. Here is what the 25-year-old French dancer has to tell us about this unique experience:
How did your interest in bachata first spring up?
I discovered bachata when I was spending all my nights in a Latin club in Paris. During that time, I was only into Salsa, but the DJs were also playing bachata music sometimes. After a while, I started paying attention to bachata music and I have realised that I loved it, that’s why I started taking classes to learn how to dance to this beautiful music.
How did the idea of performing come up?
During a bachata night in London (where I have been living for almost 2 years now), I was dancing with bachata teacher Julian and he explained to me that he will run a bachata team called London Touch in a few months, which will be an opportunity for dancers who want to push their dance further in order to really improve. The concept with performing is indeed to dance more in a professional way, learn a lot of technique, be able to perform and to teach later if this is our desire. He suggested to me to take part in this team during that night.
For the Ladies Touch, bachata teacher Angela sent me an email telling me that she will run a ladies’ styling team and that she wanted me to be in that team as well. She hasn’t done any auditions for the first season but she has directly selected the dancers that she wanted. That’s how I’ve discovered the existence of London Touch and Ladies Touch.
How long had you taken bachata classes before you decided to kick-start your performance journey?
My first performance took place exactly a year after starting bachata lessons. If you are very passionate about bachata, you can evolve a lot and very quickly! It was such an honour and a real pleasure to be a member of bachata teams run by Julian and Angela, who are the number 1 UK bachata couple in my opinion, so I really couldn’t refuse the challenge, that’s why I immediately accepted both opportunities.
How was your training routine like?
Each season of London Touch lasted 4 months on average, with a minimum of 3 hours rehearsal per week and per team. Then, we could have extra rehearsals when necessary and especially when we were close to the performance dates. We were learning a routine per season (so for me it was two as I belonged to 2 teams). Generally for each session, we started with a warm up and then we were trained on difficult steps before learning them in the routine. In both teams, it was a mix of footwork and styling for ladies that’s why it was quite technical and interesting.
How was it like the very first time you performed?
The first time I performed a bachata show with my London Touch Family was at Bar Salsa. I remember I was very excited and quite stressed to dance as it is the number 1 Latin club in London. We were under pressure because a lot of our friends were there and obviously we didn’t want to disappoint them. But once I started to dance, I only felt joy, because I had expected this moment for a while, putting so much effort in this routine! I was also very happy and proud to dance on stage with my fellow performers as we had shared each moment together since the beginning of this fabulous adventure!
In life I am quite shy and I am a very discreet person. When I am performing, I can become a character, someone else, someone different if I want to. It’s also a way to express my soul through my body. I can express things that I can’t express with words, I can be myself without any boundaries, any embarrassment and if people pay attention to me when I am performing, I have no issue with that because I’m living a raptus moment where I’m losing all controls, I really give what I have deeply inside myself, and I just love this marvelous feeling!
What were some the ups, and some of the downs of your bachata performing experience as a whole?
We often talk about the performances themselves but in my opinion, the most important aspect is the path, not the result, exactly like in life. I’m going to talk about London-Ladies Touch Team as they are the ones which impacted me the most.
On the first hand, when the performance date is getting closer, people can be stressed and sometimes it can create some tensions in the team. The last rehearsal is often the ‘panic rehearsal’ where we feel that everything goes wrong because everyone is really stressed. This is one of the best challenges of this experience, finding the strength to stay all in unity, reassuring each other, without panicking. We have to keep calm, thinking that everything will be fine. When/if a person can’t perform, we have to re-arrange the formations last minute, which can be quite scary as we have to keep learning different things, sometimes during the rehearsal just before the performance.
Moreover, at some point, we all have to face a conflict with our own dance. This is difficult because we have to go through it ourselves and when it happens to one of your fellow, you can only do your best to show your support, but you know that only him/her will be able to find the solution and the peace inside him-/herself, which can be a bit frustrating.
On the other hand, it’s an incredible human adventure because all these difficulties that we are facing help us to grow so much! We are also discovering lovely people, creating new bonds, we are having so much fun altogether! We are sharing more than dancing, developing a real friendship and becoming like a family – going to a few events together, having drinks, dinners, going to WinterWonderland, etc. trying to take care of each other as much as we can. We are working very hard but it’s always with joy, we are always helping each other, always in a very nice and friendly atmosphere as we all have the same bachata love.
My Bachata Family has definitely a special place in my heart as no one else can understand what we have lived together. They brought me a lot of strength and energy in my personal life as well. I decided to become a member of these teams only to improve my dance skills and at the end, thanks to Julian and Angela, I’ve also received the most beautiful and unexpected gift which is Love. Thanks to them, we also had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Ataca y La Alemana, who are the Directors of our Dance Academy. It was a real privilege to meet them as we belong to their global bachata family Island Touch, and they are one of the most fantastic bachata couples in the world.
To conclude, even if it was hard sometimes for me to manage my private life, my work and my teams in the meantime, I think that when you are really passionate about bachata, you naturally find the correct balance in your life. These bachata teams really helped me to keep my Happiness at the top level.
Would you recommend this experience to others? What advice do you have for someone contemplating the idea of performing a dance show but who’s never done this before?
I would definitely recommend this experience to others! Performing bachata is just an amazing experience as it is a very romantic, sensual, passionate dance and I really feel blessed for being able to express it in front of an audience. I have seen the most beginner-bad dancer become the most incredible dancer, so be passionate, believe in yourself and just do it if this is your dream! The most important thing we have to keep in mind is always to do things with Passion and ENJOYING 🙂
To find out more about Touch Teams, visit http://islandtouchdance.com/bachataDanceTeam.html