Today's WCW goes to the incredibly inspiring and empowering Carly-Ann Purcell, founder of Neptune Girls. Neptune Girls is a body positive open dance class aiming to use creativity to empower women. I (Heli) started attending classes in Portsmouth a few months ago and I can first hand vouch for how fun yet uplifting the classes are. It's a safe and supportive space full of friendly people! You really do leave every class feeling sassy AF and I've felt my confidence growing every week.
It's less about nailing the choreography/looking good and more about feeling good about yourself. There are classes and courses in Portsmouth, Chichester and Southampton so if you're local I would highly recommend going along to a class if you're thinking about it PLUS your first class is free!
After collaborating with the gorgeous Carly and the Neptune Girls on their recent promo video I wanted to have a chat with Carly all about her dance career, her inspirations and how/why Neptune Girls started and share with you guys in hope that you'll find her as empowering as I do!
Scroll down to read Carly's interview! <3
I recently worked with Carly on her promo video for Neptune Girls, watch below and see all the sassy outfits I styled :) It was such an amazing day and I felt so proud to be a part of it!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your dance career!
The following quotes kind of sum up how try I live my life;
“Follow your bliss” Joseph Campbell
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive’” Howard Thurman.
I’ve always tried to followed what lights me up (Dance, Psychology, facilitating positive change in the world). When I'm “following my bliss” I believe I am continually working towards being the best version of myself and therefore have the most to offer the world.
My dance background
Growing up in a low-income single parent family, dance opportunities for me were not prevalent. Before I was able to fund my own dance training as an adult you could say my training was imitating Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson videos (before youtube) and I still do this! It wasn’t until I moved from Bracknell to Portsmouth to study BSc Psychology that I was able to fund my own dance lessons. From 2002 I began travelling to London as much as I could to take classes at Pineapple Dance Studios and Husky Dance Studios. One of the highlights of my dance training to date was spending three months in Los Angeles at Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio’s, dancing pretty much every day. Around the same time I also qualified as an Exercise to Music Instructor and Gym Instructor. I taught every going fitness class at Portsmouth University Sports Centre, but my classes inevitably became more and more dance orientated, not sure all the gym punters were a fan of Britney and Liberty X style Aerobics/Spinning every week? Fortunately I was given the opportunity to start teaching street dance in local schools and from here one thing lead to another. I was offered a job at Portsmouth University Sports Centre as a Dance Development Officer (2006-2014) this post really gave me a platform to develop as a dance teacher and learn an array of transferable skills. In 2007 I founded Most Wanted Street Dance School (we are now celebrating our 10th Year this year!). Not having the opportunity to dance when I was younger made running my school so much more rewarding. I’ve been able to offer dance lessons and opportunities to children from similar backgrounds to me. This has been extremely fulfilling! Seeing them grow, develop and follow their dreams is just amazing. One of the things that lights me up most is creating positive opportunities that facilitate positive growth and this is where I choose to drive my focus and time.
My dance career hasn’t been a conventional one. But now when I look at how my career is unfolding, I am nothing but grateful. I didn’t have the dance opportunities I would have liked as child but I didn’t let that stop me and I really hope that might inspire someone else to just to do, and follow their dreams regardless of perceived limitations. We tell ourselves we aren’t ready to do A, B, or C. But, you learn, grow and evolve by doing and stepping out of your comfort zones. You might never feel ready but that is just a feeling, a perceived limitation. I’ve nothing against formal training/education (I’m starting a Masters in Positive Psychology this September) I think its excellent. But we aren’t all lucky enough to have every opportunity that we would have liked and we shouldn’t let this stop us from following our bliss.
Tell us about Neptune Girls? Why did you start it and when?
I had my first experience of heels dance and commercial dance in LA in 2010 and was literally hooked. Neptune Girls actually first came about in early 2011 but it was sporadic and never really gathered too much momentum or had a real purpose/identity until its official launch in July 2016. Over the years I’ve learnt that having a purpose driven organisation, that is the most authentic version of you and your spirit is what is really what its all about and I wanted to get really specific. Having dealt with my own self-esteem issues, anxiety and depression at points in my life I really wanted to create and environment and community that would empower people, build confidence and lift them up. This time I wanted Neptune Girls to be more than just a dance class. I wanted dance to be the tool and area of common interest that would build a community of wonderful, inspiring, supportive women (and men, shout out to King Alain!) that would enhance each others lives.
Neptune Girls has grown significantly in it's first year and is spreading across the south which is so amazing to see. What has been your proudest moment of Neptune girls so far?
Seeing people step out of their comfort zones and really light up in our dance classes. We have ladies who tell me they are struggling with things such as low confidence, body image issues or mental health issues and they still put themselves out there! We receive messages on a regular basis from our ladies telling us how they feel better about themselves and more confident since coming to class. It makes me so happy and extremely proud to have facilitated that experience into their lives. I so am proud of the Neptune environment, community and movement. Seeing all the genuine friendships made and how much the girls really love and support each other is so amazing. Seeing my teachers rapidly grow and evolve with their dancing, choreography and teaching skills is awesome. I’m just proud of what Neptune Girls is and stands for!
What are your goals and dreams for Neptune girls?
Empowerment and confidence is a big thing. I want to develop my skill sets so that I can push this side of things even more. I really want the Neptune mission and message to get as clear, specific and inspiring as possible and reach and empower more and more people. I’d really like to collaborate more with other inspiring purpose driven ethical companies just like Sassy World and Confetti Crowd. I’m an eternal student so as long as I’m growing and evolving, I’m nailing mine, and my Neptune goals every day.
Who are your female inspirations?
She had an extremely traumatic childhood and rather than becoming consumed by this she prevailed by believing in a power greater than herself.
Well known for her TED Talk on vulnerability, Brene has dedicating much of her time to studying this and inspiring people to be vulnerable and be their most authentic selves. Her book ‘Daring Greatly’ is must.
“Vulnerably is about having the courage to show up and be seen” Brene Brown
Recently made famous via her Netflix series ‘Girl Boss’
Sophia grafted and followed her dreams to create the huge clothing brand ‘Nasty Gal’
I have lots of local female role models;
Amba Tremain (Urban Vocal Group - UVG)
This woman works harder than anyone I know, she is hugely talented and so passionate about the work she does in the community. She has impacted the lives of so many within her company UVG.
Lousie Whitmore (Love Southsea)
Louise runs Love Southsea. She is so passionate about our community and has created and awesome company that enhances Southsea live!
Jennifer Sanchez (Dimples and Daisies)
Jennifer constantly inspires me with her get up and go, she is an innovator and runs a passion filled beautiful company that has just gone from strength to strength.
Helena Lester-Card (Sassy World)
Helena has the most fun, vibrant, Girl Powered clothing line! I love the message behind her company and her genuine desire to empower other females!!
Kelly Marie Baker (KMB Massage)
I’ve known Kelly for years. I love her creative and entrepreneurial soul, whatever she touches turns to gold. She is more talented than she knows!
Claire Hamer (The Box Portsmouth)
Hard working, big dreaming, gets shit done! She always makes it happen and inspires me all the time.
Grace Hall (local dance artist)
Wise beyond her years, heart of gold, talent and passion for days! Grace Hall is one to watch!
Claudia Albrecht (Island Feather)
Claudia recently launched her sports and fitness clothing line ‘Island Feather’. The company’s mission is to inspire you to live a healthy life and discover what makes you happy. Claudia is great at connecting with others and has a truly beautiful spirit.
What does being a girl boss mean to you?
It means continually being a little better than you were yesterday. Being in competition with yourself and not others. Empowering others. Respecting your responsibility to inspire/lead rather than manage. Looking after yourself so that you can give back as much positivity as possible. Being an eternal student and knowing that you can learn from anyone.
Do you have any tips on self love?
Gratitude all day everyday!!! Focus on what you are grateful for and it will become a habit and positivity more abundant. Just try it!
“We are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” Jim Rohn.
Spend your time with people who energise you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself!
Live your most authentic life, embrace fear, feel your feelings. Spend as much time by the sea and in nature as possible.
You can follow Neptune Girls over on Instagram here and Facebook here.