Local Face: Lucille Troke
I have recently learnt a new hobby: tap! It’s incredibly fun, even though you have to concentrate hard and really listen to the music.
The twist to my style of tap dancing is that I use my hands, as I am paralysed from the waist down and it would be hard to move my wheelchair in a way to accentuate the music. That works fine for the school disco or my ballet lessons, but for tap you need to make the classic sound. So I use gloves with taps sewn on by my trusty dance teacher, Sue Donald.
Sue is the reason I do both ballet and tap. When I was first discharged home from hospital, I mentioned to my mum I’d like to do ballet. She researched and found an inspiring video of a ballerina with a similar injury to mine. That gave her courage to approach Rozelle Dance School to see if I could have some lessons. Visionary Sue said she would give it a try and did more than that: while I was still off school, she came each week for one to one lessons. They were so much fun and I learnt how much I love ballet.
Apparently after the first extended session I slept for 16 hours solidly! I had struggled to sleep properly all the weeks in hospital and my mum firmly believes the combination of stretching and unwinding the body and the relaxing music plus enjoyment and hard work was enough to finally really let go. I think I can see what she means, as dancing continues to bring me a lot of joy and I’m always in a good mood afterwards.
I’m lucky that Rozelle Dance School believes “why shouldn’t everyone dance with every part of their body they can?” and I am able to take part in the group lessons and the shows too. It’s always a great atmosphere of everyone working together like a big family.The big Rozelle Dance School family regularly takes part in the Tapathon for Children in Need. They raise funds and even attempt to break records. So Sue wanted me to take part in it somehow or another so I wouldn’t be left out of this group effort experience.
Well, we found a really good way! By sewing taps onto gloves, and using a hollower wood type bamboo board to get the right sound effect, I can tap my fingertips for each “toes” tap and the bottom palm of my hand for the “heel”, I can translate the dance steps onto the board and get completely lost in the music.
For “fish & chips” (as Sue taught me to call the step ball change move – much more onomatopoeic!), for example, I put my one hand down both taps, then finger tips tap only down with the other hand, then finger tips tap down with the first hand, start again alternating hands, while the rest of the class puts down their heel & toe tap, and then toe taps down alternating feet.
It’s hard work and you have to concentrate a lot, but it is definitely worth it to raise some money for a good cause!
I am a bit nervous about the Tapathon on 17 November, in Wendover Memorial Hall, but am practising hard to make sure I know the tune and moves and can bring it all together. I really hope we achieve more than the record of 7,596 participants and raise a good amount for Children in Need, as it’s a great charity that provides meaningful support and brings joy to so many.
Lucille Troke, age 9