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 Post subject: "Making It" in Dance
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 8:37 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 96
Location: new york city
Hi, y'all:
I'm a lurker, mostly, but I've been lurking for a while and reading all the forums and I've been thinking about this for a while now.

What constitutes "making it" in dance? I ask because so often there are posts that go something to the effect of "I just started dancing and I'm in my late teens/I don't have an ideal body but I think I'm still technically competent/similar question here leading to the ultimate, which is -> do I have any chance of making it as a dancer?" The answer tends to be "Well, very few people make it as a dancer even if they are physically 'perfect' and have been dancing since they were six."

I realize that, of course, this is a personal question. But the answer that I hear so often seems to be predicated on the notion that "making it" involves -- well, what exactly? Dancing for a ballet company or one of the big modern dance companies? Making all your money from performing?

I can't think of one person I know who gets to do this. A lot of people here, in Seattle, are "making it" -- meaning performing, showing work, known around town -- even if they are late starters, have flat feet, or big thighs, or have to work day jobs to pay the bills. What is this notion of "making it" doing to the idea and accessibility of dance as an art form?


(edited to clear up a brain misfire mid-sentence.)

<small>[ 20 October 2004, 10:39 AM: Message edited by: ari ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: "Making It" in Dance
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 2:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1949
Location: New England
Good question, Ari.

I think that many people asking questions about "making it" don't really have a very detailed understanding of what that means. They like to dance, they know about some big dance companies, and they want to be like that. In general, there's nothing wrong with having a goal or an idol.

It's only later that we learn about the large number of different possibilities, with their plusses and minuses --- as well as the hard realities.

Ultimately, I might define "making it" as:
1) Attaining some kind of professional experience, i.e. you are paid to dance.
2) Achieving whatever it is you wanted to get out of dance.

Item (1) is important because your outlook and behavior really does change with a certain degree of professionalism. Item (2) is important because we all go into dance for something --- and that something is definitely NOT the money. So I'd hope that we eventually find what it is we're looking for and achieve it.

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 Post subject: Re: "Making It" in Dance
PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 5:14 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:01 am
Posts: 24
Location: New York City
Yes, how to explain this to, I don't make my living from performing, and in fact have to raise money for my company to perform. (I do, however, teach dance for a living.) But when my company performs, we are often reviewed by the New York Times, so we are held to a high professional standard.

To me, at this point making it in dance means making work that I am happy with and that expresses what I have to say well, and having at least one person in the audience be totally moved by it.

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 Post subject: Re: "Making It" in Dance
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:35 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 688
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
I think it's very important to begin to think of ourselves as dancers and not wait for some anointing from on high from some unknown person or future event. You have to think of yourself as having made it in the here and now.

It's nice to be paid as dancers and other work-a-day professionals in the profession but first and foremost is how we view ourselves, our self-image and confidence. It's good to get outside feedback and validation from those we trust and admire but ultimately, it has to come from within. There is no magic moment. Yes, the check helps, yes, the signing of the contract helps. But as the saying goes, "Before enlightenment -- fetch and carry water. After enlightenment -- fetch and carry water."

I believe that if students and aspirant dancers think of themselves now as dancers, this will aid the process and I think the net effect of this will be seen. Don't give up. Keep listening to that inner voice that says, "I love dancing and moving" no matter how tough the going sometimes seems to get.

Find opportunities and they will find you. I often used to tell my students that opportunity knocks at the door all the time. The trick is to listen for the knock, and then take the courage to open and door and walk through it - or to invite the visitor in. Don't be afraid of success. Embrace change.

I hear of dozens of attorneys who quit each year. They had "made it" but became dissatisfied. Is having a certificate on your wall, "making it?"

Doesn't loving and supporting dance mean that we've already made it!? :cool:

<small>[ 02 November 2004, 05:36 PM: Message edited by: Dean Speer ]</small>

Dean Speer

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