Jackie Rawlings started physie aged 2 at the back of the Associate class that her Mum taught. A love of music and dance was instilled at an early age combined with a quest for self-improvement and a thirst for as many kinds of movement as possible. She began teaching at 15, choreographing in her 20’s and has been working at BJP for 15 years. Jackie loves engaging with BJP’s Associates in workshops, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and fostering personal growth. Her favourite moments are when she hears a teacher say that physie has empowered them or a parent thanks the organisation for giving their child confidence, self-belief and a sense of belonging. To be able to serve the physie community on a daily basis is an honour that Jackie values above all others.
- If you could go back in time, what advice and lessons learned would you had given to your “younger self”?
I definitely would have told myself to look after my body. Here I am now in my 50’s and I can’t do all the things in Physie that I would like to be able to do and would be able to do if I had looked after my body. Back when I was in the seniors we didn’t stretch before class – we just got straight into it and I wish that I had warmed up and stretched like I know that our clubs now do.
- What is something that keeps you motivated?
In my job, it would be when I hear stories that people send in to us by email of how physie has had an impact on a child or a woman. Stories like a little girl who was too shy to do physie and wouldn’t leave her mums lap and within a year of doing physie she is now up giving a speech on stage at the school assembly. That’s what makes our jobs worthwhile.
- Do you have a favourite personal quote you either heard or have made yourself?
My favourite quote is “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other”. I think sometimes if you have big goals and you break them down into chunks then it all becomes doable. In my work, the one I live by is “do what’s right not what’s easy”.
- As a performer, do you have a favourite routine that has stuck with you over the years?
They are all a bit of a blur to be honest! I think I would have to say that when I was about 9, having been in the juniors for what seemed like forever and wanting to progress to the open seniors and do the impulse, I can remember in the relaxed when we were finally allowed to move our feet. It was incredibly exciting!
- As a choreographer, do you have a favourite routine that has stuck with you over the years?
It would be “Halo”, the senior warm up about 10 years ago. It was when I first brought in hip hop movements to the senior syllabus and it was around the same time that we started doing more contemporary moves in the impulse. It was a time that I felt we were ready for another style of dance and the seniors were so good that they needed a new challenge. They ate it up and they just continue to get better and better. They take my breath away.
- How has physie moulded you as a person?
You hear a lot of people saying physie has made them more confident and this is definitely true for me. I started doing physie the moment I could walk and it gave me a belief in myself which I possibly wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t done physie. Growing up in an environment where women were capable and in charge, I never felt like there was anything that I couldn’t achieve because I was a woman.
- Who has influenced you the most?
I have had many different teachers and I have learned something different from all of them. In terms of making a class fun it would be Shirley Wolfson. I learnt a lot from watching her about how to never ever let your students be bored. My mum was an exceptional teacher, not only in identifying what needed to be improved but in being able to communicate how to do that to the student. And teams were always more important than individual pursuit to her which is why she always had a big club. As a performer, I learned almost everything I know from my mum but the icing on the cake came from Candy, especially in regard to the timing of how to represent a movement so that it is in absolute perfect relationship to the music.
- What is your creative process like? How do you come up with the routines?
To choreograph I play the music and close my eyes. I see it in my head and then I try and do it to see if it works physically and to make sure that it works with the music! Most importantly is whether it’s age appropriate for whomever we want to learn it. Once it’s created we have a team of choreographers who test out each other’s work and we critique and tweak it together. Then I write it and we check it again. It’s a long process.
- What do you look forward to seeing in the future?
I think that physie is the perfect sport for girls and women because they can dance for their whole life. So what I look forward to is seeing physie in every single country town in Australia so that anyone can do physie no matter where they live.