It’s safe to say that that I started my career as a dancer. I started taking ballet lessons at age 7, which lead to lessons later in tap, jazz and modern/contemporary. It was through dance that I got involved in community theatre doing musicals, which lead to doing plays, and opera and eventually moving to the UK to pursue this on a larger scale.
I don’t dance that much anymore – being in my 40’s I’ve kind of moved past it – but I still have the utmost respect for dancers. They are the hardest-working, loveliest artists that I know.
One of my old teachers posted this link of Facebook from the Portland Ballet blog – 15 Truths About Being a Professional Dancer.
While I think this blog post has been written from a dancer’s point of view, read it through and see which points apply to your own creative pursuit, whatever that might be.
Personally, I feel that I can relate to each and every point made. But some particularly leap out.
1. Dance is hard. – No dancer ever became successful riding on their natural born talents only.
Yup. Dance is hard. But so is acting, so is singing, so is writing, so is making art. Creating something from nothing is always hard. Putting yourself out there is hard. Talent is only part of the equation. After that there is a whole lot of hard graft and big risk taking.
2. You won’t always get what you want. – We don’t always get the role we wanted, go on pointe when we want, get the job we want, hear the compliments we want, make the money we want, see companies run the way we want, etc, etc. This teaches us humility and respect for the process, the art form and the masters we have chosen to teach us. The faster we accept this, the faster we can get on with being brilliant. We’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but we can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.
Yup. My career has been filled with disappointments. Yours? But sucking it up, learning what can be learned from it, shrugging off what can’t and moving on to the next thing is the only way to continue to grow, develop and prosper.
14. Repetition is good. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insane. – If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. If you keep doing the bare minimum of required classes, don’t complain to your teacher when you don’t move up to the next level. If you only give the bare minimum in your company, be happy staying in the corps. If you want to grow beyond your comfort zone, you must push yourself beyond your self-imposed limitations.
This one touches upon the thrust of creative entrepreneurship. Doing nothing, or doing what you’ve always done and expecting different results just doesn’t work. If you want more customers, better jobs, or to actually earn a living from your art form, you are going to have to start doing some different things. Like advertising you and your work. Like marketing yourself to the people who can buy from you. This involves learning new skills, taking risks and moving outside of your comfort zone – but it’s the only way to get different results than what you are getting now.
This directly leads on to:
15. You will never feel 100% ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Dancers have to be willing to take risks. From letting go of the ballet barre to balance, to moving around the world to dance with a new company, from trusting a new partner to trying a new form of dance, dancers must have a flexible mind and attitude as well as body. The greatest opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means you won’t feel totally comfortable or ready for it.
Sooner or later you have to jump into the pool. Now is the time. Figure out one way you can begin to market your work. Figure out one person you can contact who might be able to give you your next opportunity. Go for it! See what happens. Then learn from it and repeat. It’s the only way forward.
I urge you to go read the whole article – it’s short and really hits home. 15 Truths About Being A Professional Dancer.