Ailsa Victoria Miller, a talented artist and Lindy Jazz dancer, captures the vivid colours of nature beautifully in her work. I’ve been incredibly moved by her dance story and am really excited to share her guest blog with you.
I feel so lucky to have turned my life around and have more reasons than most to Keep Dancing!
I discovered Lindy Jazz when I joined Whey Aye WI, a group aimed at younger women. I went to make new friends and found a new passion, swing dancing! Joo-Lee came to show us the Charleston and I was instantly hooked! A friend agreed to go with me to the Gosforth class and offered to drive. After the first lesson she said it was wasn’t for her and I realised I would have to go on my own. This meant I’d have to overcome some major challenges.
I’d suffered with stress and anxiety for many years and was unable to do normal everyday tasks like driving and going out on my own. I had been living in a stressful environment with my parents and sister who is bedridden (and has been for many years) with a severe case of M.E. There were other contributing factors too as I’d found out I had arthritis when I was in my twenties. This was an ongoing problem, which meant I had to be on strong medication. To get back into a working environment I volunteered in a Marie Curie charity shop where I dressed the window. This increased my confidence and reawakened my creative side.
After counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I was able to do most things again. Driving in busy areas like Gosforth was still something I avoided. I’d found something I really wanted to do and was determined not to let anything stop me, the end result was far too valuable, to be able to swing dance and make some lovely new friends.
Dancing has completely transformed my life, I’m amazed that now I go out on my own and dance for hours! When I started the class I didn’t know if I’d physically be able to do it. Being on strong medication and needing to be regularly monitored at the hospital. On top of this I often needed to have my knee drained and regular steroid injections. When it was bad I could hardly walk and struggled to get around the house.
I gained the confidence to use both legs equally (pretty essential in dancing!) and got stronger and stronger. I realised I’d been fine since I started dancing and had not needed any steroid injections etc. I told this to my specialist last October, he said I could try coming off the medication and see how I was. He said I should definitely continue dancing as it could be controlling my arthritis. I’ve now been off all medication for a year and am so happy! I cannot believe the dancing I love to do has actually made me better.
My confidence has grown massively and I’ve now started my own business as an artist with the encouragement and support of my amazing husband. I’ve always loved colour and it’s therapeutic effect. I’m so uplifted by the vibrant colours of nature and this has been my inspiration. I photograph whatever inspires me and then create pastel drawings capturing the vivid colour and feeling of the subject. My background is in art and design and as I recovered I began drawing again and the glowing colours made me feel better.
Other people kept commenting on how my artwork had a positive emotional effect on them. This was a revelation and I was amazed that I could make people feel better through my colourful artwork. This encouraged me to want to share my artwork, which is effective both visually and emotionally. I now regularly attend art markets through LoveArtNorthEast who have been very supportive and are an absolute pleasure to work with. I’ve even been part of a Festive Fair at The Biscuit Factory which was a charity event for Children North East. I really enjoy these events and am meeting lots of lovely people all the time. I’ve had some fantastic opportunities and have just been featured in an art journal Sachet Mixte Edition 7.
It’s incredible how things can change and I appreciate everything! I feel so lucky to have turned my life around and have more reasons than most to Keep Dancing!