Who was Vanessa Marian at Home Growing Up?

Words by Samantha Varghese (Vanessa Marian’s baby sister)

When I sat down to write this article on how and why Groove Therapy is as we know it today, I realised it was something I’d given little prior thought to. I first found out about Groove Therapy over a trending Facebook post when my sister launched the website. From the perfect mix of our mutual flakiness and my sister’s spontaneity, I wasn’t at all surprised. I didn’t ask any questions, just gave my immediate support and excitement. Groove Therapy made perfect sense. It had Vanessa written all over it.

Dance has always played a big part in our lives growing up. Vanessa’s because she grew up dancing, and mine because I had to put up with her deafeningly loud music and floorboard hammering. I have vague memories watching Vanessa learn Indian classical dance, as I’d curl up on the floor next to her teacher. I couldn’t make myself too comfortable though, as it wasn’t long before Vanessa was nudging me to take class. I reluctantly went along, hating it at first, and then found myself knee deep in sequinned rainbow costumes and jazz shoes within a year. I guess even then Vanessa knew I’d grow to love it the way she did.

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Fast-forward a few years and we’re at my first hip hop class. I’m wearing baggy track pants paired with fluoro yellow hightops, an unstoppable mix. Vanessa’s the teacher and as she stands centre front, she tells everyone her little sister’s joining in. I remember feeling so nervous that day. Being taught by your sister is everything you expect it to be. She’d pull me up in warm up, stand in front of me, make me squat lower and hit steps harder. She’d check up on me at home to see if I had been practicing my routine and soon enough she wouldn’t have to ask. I loved it.

Maybe at the time I pinned Vanessa’s persuasiveness as a bossy older sister trait, but once she moved out of home I didn’t stop dancing. I’d lock myself up in my parents’ bedroom as she once did and have a solid bedroom jam until reality pulled me back in by incessant knocking at the door. It was then that Vanessa had moved to Melbourne in pursuit of her Interior Design dreams. She was in that post-graduating phase where, after seven years of Law and Business School, she realised her creativity meant more to her than a side interest. I was on the opposite end of the spectrum, just being introduced to the horrors of teenage life. Ew.

I would visit Vanessa at intervals, taking a trip once with my parents in time for her grad show. You could sense her excitement bouncing off the walls, although that doesn’t sound far off her natural state. Two years later, that momentum had fizzled out. A neglected fair trade furniture business, a brand management job and a series of art directed pieces. Nothing seemed to stick, and as she’d try to morph herself into each role it would be more apparent that things weren’t working out. My sister’s never been the cookie-cutter type.

I think it took a moment of real awakening for Groove Therapy to surface the way it did. Dance had always been in the background, a kind of old friend you’d turn to for comfort. It only took a closed door and a couple of carpet burns to revisit, and in Vanessa’s moment of anxiety that’s what she did. So when she finally came to my parents and I with news of her pursuit in dance, we didn’t question it.

From then on it was a kind of snowball effect, gig after gig and teaching back to back classes. My sister’s natural coffee-high state returned to her and I saw her sink into her dance lifestyle like melting into an IKEA beanbag. It was a perfect fit and within months we find ourselves where we began- with me sitting behind a screen, scrolling through Groove Therapy for the first time.

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Want to try out a beginner adult hip hop class near you? Check out what we have on offer and book yourself in for a class!

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