Name: Emma Apple
Job: Class instructor, performer, event organiser at VintageKicks.Dance
Education: Queen's Park High School (GCSEs), West Cheshire College of Art and Design (BTEC National Diploma GAD), York College of Higher and Further Education (HND Fashion Design & Construction)
Family: Settled without children
Despite my name, I’m more likely to have a banana a day than an apple and definitely a cup of tea before doing anything!
Unofficial work starts online, sharing videos of authentic jazz dance, a bit of Vintage Kicks.Dance promotion and keeping up with information and opportunities through accounts such as The Chester Blog and Chester Culture. I’ve made great connections through social media, received valuable support and learned more about what’s happening in Chester.
Charleston, jazz and swing dance styles are fun and sociable, so much of my online communication promotes community and inclusivity, including the development of the SafetyInSwingDance.com.
Meetings over elevenses are my favourite, at lovely independents like The Little Yellow Pig in Hoole. I connect with event organisers and venue managers, people who can facilitate good things happening. Meeting over cake is productive too. I bake for my monthly socials and after reading a tweet about PS. I Love Cake opening in the market, I met Paula, ate cake and now she’s supplying me with cakes to help raise funds for the Chester Share shop.
Because my social and work life are so entwined, catching up with friends about their creative ventures, like Jude Williams and Chris Mapp of Influx Arts, results in performance or teaching at events around the city. A Prohibition-themed night out at Telford’s with Roaries Hot Hundreds is technically work, though it’s essentially playing vintage dress up and partying on the dance floor of one of my favourite pubs.
I often practise choreography and technique in my kitchen, the only smooth floor in the house. You might catch me dancing whilst shopping, in the train station going to MerseySwing, anywhere with a smooth floor. I can’t tell you how happy I was to find a smooth, sprung floor for my evening classes at Upton Village Hall. Requests to work events are often for charity and if dancers volunteer, we perform as Chester Swing Dance Society. When I taught for the University of Chester Swing Dance Society, the students and I had the best time performing at the Lives Rooms for CSASS and at Telfords for Chester Deafness Support Network. Recently friends and I danced in the rain for Hoole’s May Day Festival and The Gathering Festival at Alexander’s. Currently, I’m looking for a new team to learn and practice together for such occasions.
What do you wear to do your job? Depending on the work it can vary wildly, from baggy pants and a vest, with a vintagey head scarf for training and classes, to full-on beaded Flapper dress, film noir make up and my grandma’s finest pearls for a show! On an average day, it’s a subtle nod to swing-era style and a nice splash of colour for good cheer.
Occasionally I might even wear one of my own designs.
What is the favourite part of your job? Witnessing the joy and enthusiasm of students as they’re learning, hearing them laugh while they get their steps mixed up and hearing them cheer when they don’t!
What is the least favourite part of your job? Saying goodbye. I got quite attached, particularly to my first students at the university, and to a couple of dance partners and friends, but the time does come for people to change direction or move forward in their lives, for work etc. and each time, I’m just such a softy!
What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now? As the word dream is in the question, the answer can forgo the reality of income! I’d love to run a sociable venue for creative and charitable idealists and support groups. I’d bake cakes, make clothes and crafts, run workshops, all for free and offer priority to local charities close to my heart.
How do you relax when you are not working? Dancing is a very, very large part of my social life, but it’s not exactly relaxing, so I unwind with Hatha Yoga at Beehive Healthcare. I’ve joined In Stitches to meet up and sew as a group whilst fixing the world’s ills and drinking tea at Alexander’s and I do a bit of poetry here and there. Getting out in the countryside or to the coast is one of my favourite ways to relax. I love dipping my feet in a woodland stream or the sea.
What is your favourite film? The Princess Bride. Having read the book first, this film lived up to the high standard so surprisingly well. Thoroughly entertaining, exciting, witty, the actors are all so charming and it’s not remotely twee.
What is your favourite book? The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth.
What is your favourite song? Really?! Between Heavy Metal, Folk, EDM, Ska, Punk, Reggae and everything in between, that’s too hard! My first favourite Swing song, when I started dancing Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens (Louis Jordan), one of my favourite Blues songs Mr Hitler (Leadbelly). And my favourite Blues/Gospel song Dragnet for Jesus (Sister Wynona Carr).
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Bjork, she impressed me in Dancer in the Dark with her range of expression, she can capture the extremes of emotional journeys and she could include some amazing interpretive dance too!
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet? Well, a few seconds dancing at Blackpool Tower Ballroom for a Transpennine Express ad! They never did pay me the £1 mentioned in the contract! Oh, and I made Granada News once for a fashion design piece I made whilst studying.
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