"Go to Paris, my dear", my workmate Wanda uttered as we waited for the lights to change. I was considering travel options for my upcoming holiday and her suggestion stopped me in my tracks. Paris? I stood, transfixed, on that Fifth Avenue corner, opposite Tiffany & Co, contemplating her words. I had never dreamed that a trip to Europe was even a possibility for me. That’s what rich people did! In my youth, the people from my New York-ghetto neighbourhood went down South to visit relatives (for us, that meant a twelve-hour Greyhound bus trip); or to Atlantic City; Bermuda, or, maybe, Puerto Rico; but, never Paris.
Paris. What a wonderful dream…
Dreams are interesting things. Sometimes they’re evident: you have clear thoughts, images, ideas, emotions and passion regarding your goals. An example of this type of dream clarity came for me by way of a 60 Minutes interview with Beyoncé. When asked by the interviewer to describe herself, her response was noteworthy - “A legend in the making”. My response to her answer was “Wow, Miss Bey!” I was blown away by the quiet confidence of her answer. It wasn’t given arrogantly; it was given knowingly - Beyoncé knew exactly what she wanted, she’d seen where she wanted to go and she knew who she wanted to be. That lady had dreamed her dream and was on a direct course towards its realisation.
How about Mohammad Ali? I remember him coming to our home years ago. He hadn’t changed his name yet and was still Cassius Clay in those days. He was also the newly crowned, Heavyweight Champion of the World and he personified every inch of that title. I will never forget how his car drove up our street: He was perched on the white leather-upholstered-upper back seat of his shiny, red convertible, as if he was in a ticker-tape parade. Talk about an entrance! His confidence and inner strength were so tangible, even my little girl’s mind realised that I was in the presence of greatness. His catch phrase was “I am the greatest!” He admitted to saying those words long before he or the rest of the world ever knew he was!
Then, there was Dr. Martin Luther King. As a child, I got to speak to him on the telephone. I was so in awe of this Civil Rights hero; I hardly knew what to say to him. I even got his autograph! In light of how history turned out, I should have taken better care of it…children often forget the fact that life has an expiry date. We all remember, however, his famous words: “I have a Dream.” His dream led him to march for the rights of others, making the ultimate sacrifice for it – his life. But, he had that dream and he knew his purpose. Though he’s gone, his dream of equality for all men, lives on.
Beyoncé, Mohammad Ali and Dr. King all had clear dreams. Each will leave an awesome legacy as a result of following them.
In other instances, dreams are not quite as clear. In my case, it was a person who sowed the dream. Wanda’s comment was the seed – a Dream Seed. My eyes had been closed to travel possibilities, but she had seen them. Another’s words of encouragement can be invaluable. Wanda’s were. Once her Dream Seed was sown, it manifested into events that changed the course of my life forever. I began to see and act upon new opportunities, which gave me strongly desired goals, direction and a new sense of purpose. Hard work and discipline were essential. Those elements, along with perseverance, self-belief, passion and a healthy dose of humility, watered my Dreams Seeds to fruition.
I did go to Paris on vacation. In fact, I moved there later that year to pursue another dream: to sing professionally. While I loved to sing, I had never thought of actually making a career of it, what’s more, going abroad in search of one. But, doing so, has seen me perform on stages throughout the Francophone countries and around the world. Here, in my adopted country, Australia, another of my dreams has been achieved: that of becoming a Mentor and Performance Coach. I now have the privilege of teaching performers, planting and watering some Dream Seeds of my own. One of my most treasured experiences in this role has been working with Sydney Eisteddfod.
Sydney Eisteddfod, with its dedication to young performers, has been helping them to fulfill their performance goals for over eight decades. Their mission has always been to ensure opportunities continue to be available for aspiring, young dreamers to perform. In a day and age where the Arts are continually threatened, Sydney Eisteddfod continues their support of young artists, paving the way towards bright futures and, indeed, helping to ensure the future of Australia’s Show Business industry. Every year brings a new group of future Stars to the competition. Every year, respected Adjudicators and the Sydney Eisteddfod team come together, working tirelessly in support of future Stars, with a commitment rarely seen today.
Who’s watering your Dream Seeds? I can attest to the fact that Sydney Eisteddfod continues to excel at watering the Dream Seeds of tomorrow’s up and coming performers. The harvest? It’s the countless, successful careers created as a result of Sydney Eisteddfod’s enthusiastic efforts in promoting the pursuit of excellence. I’m certain that harvest will be bountiful!
International entertainer and Performance Coach, Francine Bell, has performed on stage, screen, radio and television, worldwide. She performed weekly on the French TV show Thé Dansant; was a regular on Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton and on Midday with Ray Martin.Francine has starred in major advertising campaigns in the US and Canada. A former Haute Couture fashion model, Francine’s drama credits include roles in the television series All Saints and in the blockbuster movies Matrix Revolutions, The Wilde Girls (opposite Olivia Newton-John), and Superman Returns. Francine is also an accomplished Voice-Over artist.