'Dance Fam Stories: Through The Eyes of a Student - Hillary Freeney'

Meet my amazing friend and a Dance Greystones student - Hillary Freeney. I'm absolutely delighted to share Hillary's dance journey with you all.

Hillary is such a huge part of our dance family. Every group has their 'glue' and I always say Hillary is THE glue. From the day one she literally earned that title by her action. She is a little sunshine who brightens up the room when she walks in, she is always up for any fun activities, trips and get togethers. At every single class she always takes her time to talk to all members of the group to make sure they are all ok. You name it and she is always the one who have your back if something gets out of hand. Newcomers to the group are always welcomed by Hillary as soon as they walk in to the room and she always makes sure they feel comfortable and part of the group from the second they walk in. She gives them the encouragement, ins and outs of the group and introduces them to everyone. Her favourite quote is: "Don't worry, we will pop your dance cherry" :)

Apart from all of the above I feel so lucky to call Hillary my friend.

Over the past three years we have formed such a beautiful friendship and I adore the bones of her. I'm very thankful for the moment she walked in to that studio for the first time and at the same time walked in to my life. Our friendship is something I really treasure and I can't even remember what was it like when she wasn't in my life. Thank you so much for everything that you do Hills, not just for me, but for everyone.

You truly are our ray of sunshine and we all love you ❤

So what brought Hillary to that first class?

Hillary always wanted to dance but was too shy to give it a go. She found her chance when she spotted Dance Greystones shooting a video at the local Greystones Harbour back in October 2016. It was a special video as it was Halloween Dance Term and we danced and filmed it to Michael Jackson's famous song 'Thriller'. Everyone was dressed up and once the video hit the internet, it went viral in Greystones community. Hillary had her eye on it since August that year and at that moment she decided no more excuses and luckily she signed up for the following term.

The second she walked into the studio, she overcame the biggest thing standing in her way this whole time - herself.

She started with one lesson a week, which slowly grew to two and eventually three. She immersed herself in dance, but found so much more than just that at Dance Greystones. Hillary created incredible friendships and discovered a place where she could let loose.

I keep saying it, but I know The Dance Fam wouldn't be the same without her and I can't wait for you to read all about Hillary's dance journey where she shares what dancing and everything that comes with it means to her:

How long ago have you joined the group, what was your first dance & what was it like joining an already established group?

After much procrastinating from August 2016, I finally joined on 27th October 2016. 

My first dance was Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines (Ooooooh).  So many slut drops and slapping my butt. I remember hmmm, I was so far out of my comfort zone. But the girls were great even when I turned up in a very straight outfit they helped "unstraighten" it and then there was cake. There was always cake, I remember after class or on the shoots always cake, baked by the gorgeous girls (they know who they are). 

Honestly! I was terrified on the first night. I nearly didn’t walk in the door, in fact I stayed outside until the very last minute and persuaded myself not to be so stupid or so shy. I hid at the back that first night (don’t think that has changed much in three years), except that I might move to the middle of the back row every so often. The established group terrified me most, but the girls were more worried about getting their own steps right than looking at me falling over my two left feet. I came away from that first class knowing I had joined something very special. Three years later that feeling was right and you know it’s more than special, it’s exceptional.

What does Dance Greystones mean to you?

When I hear the words Dance Greystones it makes me think of (in no particular order): Exercise, Fun, Friendship, Frustration, Laughter, Tears, Terror & Tribe.

*Exercise - wow do we exercise when we do the classes for the monthly shoots, practice makes perfect and makes for a fitter me too. During the class we don’t realise how much we actually move as we repeat and learn the steps. Sometimes, you know all about it the next day when a different set of muscles have been hung out to dry. When I miss a month for whatever reason, I can’t wait to get back to it and wait anxiously to see the latest video and see how well they have all done.

I also miss Zumba® class, that used to add to the fitness, but sure we can’t fit everything in.

*Fun - Vicky and the dance fam make the dance classes so interesting, whether you can do the steps or not it’s always great craic, you walk in the door and leave your grown up (seriously?)/ adult self at the door and just for an hour at a time have the best fun with the maddest bunch of women and from time to time we are graced with the presence of great men too.

*Friendship - so many friendships have grown out of the love of dancing and these video shoots. I am lucky to be part of this bunch of amazing women who have each other’s backs and still manage to have banter, chats and fun, all cohesively brought together by Ms. Vicky. Often have to pinch myself about that one.

*Frustration - oh goodness the times I have had trying to get the steps, first off to stay in my head and then for my arms, hips, legs and feet to go in the right direction, don’t even try to throw in a head move too, that gets me completely lost. I have been known to end up the other side of the studio as the girls go the other way, lost in my own little world of steps. It is also rumoured that I dance around the coffee machine in work in the mornings as it warms up, to practice a move to get it even half right.

*Laughter - we laugh at every class no matter what, someone will make a joke, wear something crazy or fall over themselves (normally me) and there is no feeling of stupidity, we laugh and get on with it. We have great nights out too, that leads to much, much laughter. Many amazing memories have been made on those nights out, all that bonding too.

*Tears - we cry yep - probably mostly in frustration if we can’t get a dance (shh don’t tell Vicky) but also for each other’s sadness or losses. If anyone of the girls have a problem and need help the support within the group is unreal - it’s like dance therapy (only if you want that though), everyone’s privacy is equally respected, that’s important too.

*Terror - oh I have to mention THE terror, so there is a wonderful guy, let’s call him Kamal for the purpose of this chat, he has this thing that he carries around with him, it’s oblong, with a glass lens at the front and he calls it his video camera (oh the terror of it), whenever it’s pointed at me, I turn into a lump of wood, forget my name and forget my steps. Works best when that thing is kept at a distance and I don’t think it’s pointed at me. He works his magic each and every shoot though and is an integral piece of the dance fam jigsaw. I am always willing to be camera security or health and safety, for the strange angles that Kamal needs to shoot from (lol).

*Tribe - a much overused term now, however it is true. You know how we all feel down sometimes in our lives, for no reason, a silly reason or a big reason. The Tribe (Dance Fam) bring you back up and dance with you until the smile is back on your face, both in class and away from class too. Love them all.

What effect does dancing have on your life?

Well Vicky, thanks to all your hard work and dedication each week and month over the last three years since forming Dance Greystones and to the girls that come for one, stay for them all, or the girls who come for one and still hang out with the Dance Fam, DG is an institution in itself. It is a great stress buster. Working crazy hours it forces me to get out of the office, hopefully on time for dance class, gets me shaking my bits and moving for an hour, and for the entire class nothing goes on in your internal chatter except, the chance to listen to whatever fabulous song is being danced to, remembering to step left, right, twirl, jump (really!) count and of course one more time, last time ❤

It has done wonders for my confidence too. I am forever putting myself down and doubting my abilities in many areas of my life, all internal chatter and most likely untrue. However dance class made me push myself out of my comfort zone and have a bit more faith in me. It has stood to me in other areas of my life where I have become more confident and speak up a lot more. I am not alone in any of the above, I know many of the girls love just letting their hair down for an hour or so and it has helped in many parts of their lives too.

The DG dance fam are like an extra set of sisters that live locally and have helped me feel so much more at home in my own community.

What’s your favourite experience through Dance Greystones?

There are too many to mention, we would be here for a year going through them all. Is it ok to have two favourites?

I have to say, and I am sure all the girls will agree that the Dance trip to Portugal last September was magical. How many were we again? Oh yeah 14 or something like that? Women on tour at the beach in Costa De Caparica, Portugal didn’t know what hit it. Who would have thought that we could all go away, share a house, spend a long weekend having fun, dancing, playing on the beach, eating out and just having a good old fun weekend. No arguments, everyone just went with the flow & we all came back even better friends. It was great getting to know properly, some of the girls that I hadn’t really had a chance to get chat to week on week. Thanks for organising that one Vicky - when are we

going back? Number 7 is definitely on the list for that for sure.

The second favourite and most daunting was our recent show in the Whale Theatre. My stomach still does a little flip at the thought of it. Our end of year "recital" took legs and turned into the most amazing show held on two consecutive nights. Family and friends came to watch us. We were all of the opinion that they were just coming along to placate us, like we do small children when they have an end of term night. Well! did we astonish ourselves and them & perhaps even you Vicky? With months of hard training and rehearsals with your vision & guidance, your attention to detail for choreography, your love of dance and costumes, we pulled it off and had the time of our lives. We had many laughs, hysterics, melt downs and fun trying to get there, between fear of failure, fear of falling and fear of costume malfunctions but you know what, WE did it. We are not professional dancers nor do we profess to be but WE did it. As a team we got behind each other, missing bits of costumes were lent, steps were practiced in kitchens, halls, waiting areas, cafes, loos & offices. So many WhatsApp groups were started to make sure not one person missed out on any information. We had each other’s backs and we made sure we all had everything we needed to bring it together. We all wanted each other to be our best and helped each other to achieve that. Oh what a "two" nights!

What was your favourite dance and shoot so far?

Aside from the Great Gatsby shoot, which will always hold an extra special place in my heart, because of the surprise party that was thrown for me and the love that was shared that day, not to mention of course we were loving the dress up for that era and the fun dance steps.

I would have to say Volare is one of my favourites. I wasn’t even going to do the shoot. It lashed rain all day the day of that shoot, we danced a lot indoors in the Hot Spot that evening, had a sing song in Dans (there we go with the bonding again - a guitar was produced and who know that we had a resident guitarist) as we waited for the weather to calm down and when that break in the weather came we danced in the damp and drizzle. The choreography was superb in that dance and we all enjoyed strutting our stuff. Greystones harbour looks amazing in that shoot, a lot of new people had moved into the Marina Village that summer and I think they really enjoyed the outdoor fun we brought to the town that night.

Thanks for setting up such a wonderful & happy little slice of Greystones fun Vicky, I hope we have helped your dreams to partly come true and that the rest will be in the making with the Dance Fam in the months and years to come.

Thank you, with much love ❤

Hills x

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