CriticalDance Forum

Transitions in Career
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Author:  BabsLights [ Fri Jan 12, 2001 3:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Transitions in Career

I am interested in career transitions. No - not that I'm planning a move right now....but I was at a big conference this week and I had lunch with a gentleman from a company at the top of the food chain. <P>I made some comment about being a lighting designer (this was a booking conference, and I do that for a company I work for) and he made fun of me. And the more I protested that I really was only doing the other part in the immediate present, the more amusing he found it. Turns out he was a lighting and tech person before being where he is now.<P>So, I wonder what stories exist here with our CD folks, about transitions. Who was a dancer that is now a designer, or stage manager? Who was a stage manager who is now a company manager? Etc.<P>What brought about the transition?

Author:  Basheva [ Fri Jan 12, 2001 4:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

Well, Babs - that is an interesting question. May I ask you does that mean that the transition is to or from a paid position? <P>My dance career was an avocation that became a vocation and I have made several transitions since.....but does your question mean full time, paid position?

Author:  BabsLights [ Fri Jan 12, 2001 6:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

I wasn't even thinking about money so much....just a life change, I guess.<P>I started in theatre wanting to be a director...but to get into the college of my choice (I only applied to one) I applied as a technician, since I had experience. I had planned to transfer, then ended up LOVING building things. In school fought like a maniac to avoid being a lighting designer. I kept getting assigned designs, and never TD jobs...and complained bitterly. Then one day, suddenly, it clicked I guess. And voila, lighting design. Then after college I started working with a dance company. And voila.

Author:  Basheva [ Fri Jan 12, 2001 7:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

The day I was injured three years ago - was the same day that a friend took me to an art class. The teacher was great and I decided that my medium should be oils. <P>I have enjoyed painting very much ever since. I find that quite a lot of my dance training helps my painting. I like to paint most anything, but also dance. The picture that is in my bio, I also painted. <P> Most painters don't paint ballet very well, in my opinion, (I am talking here about representational art as opposed to impressionistic like Degas) because they are not aware of where the weight placement of the dancer is. We hide it well LOL.<P>I also found that my "dancer's eye" came in handy very much to designing the placement of the subject on the canvas - and where I wanted the eye of the observer to go. Dance training also helped to give me an eye for detail, color, nuance and emphasis. And a feeling for negative space. <P>I am not trying to say that I came to art class with these assets fully developed - but dance training did give me a "leg up" in these areas. Like dance one never stops learning in this art form, too. Anyway it is fun for me, keeps me out of trouble (as my husband would say) and opened quite another door in my life.<P>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jan 13, 2001 4:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

Hope this doesn't sound like an ego-trip, but might be interesting as it's a bit unusual. I've had three careers - Maths teacher, specialised banking, dance nut.<P>Teaching was great, but after 9 years I became concerned that I was not keen to take on new courses (more work for the same money) and becoming bored with the courses I was teaching. <P>I became interested in applying Maths to business problems and after a 1-year Govt. funded MBA I joined a bank in an in-house consultancy and then went out into the bank doing analytical stuff, but seeing more and more customers as well.<P>After 16 years in the bank, my area of expertise had become main stream and the main thrust was hearty marketing - beer (or Vintage champagne) and dirty jokes. After a couple of pleasant but frustrating years trying to take my business area into Europe, I took early retirement.<P>Then I made a mistake. I took another job in finance, because i thought I should. It didn't work...big time. Within 2 months I was out. The mistake was that it was what I did what I thought I should do and my mind was elsewhere. <P>After giving myself several months to think, I decided that if I didn't want to holiday in the Seychelles 4 times a year and buy a $500,000 yacht, i didn't have to work FOR MONEY again. Yes, I'm aware that I'm a lucky b*****d.<P>So now I volunteer for Amnesty International Business Group where i look after financial insitutions, do a dance theory MA, write a bit for a dance magazine, help in a small way various dance projects to fly, see lots of dance, oh yes, and spend too much time on criticaldance. My existing interests expanded into my work and my job contracted. I flatter myself that at the end of my MA I would be able to get a job in dance admin. if I wanted.<P>I think changes are fine and can go in unexpected directions. When you have enough cash to see yourself out, my advice is do what you want. My 'Boss' in AI is 78 is an ex-Chief exec. and a worldwide figure in business ethics and says, 'I work very hard, it's just that nobody pays me.' It's a very attractive position to be in.<P> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited January 13, 2001).]

Author:  Basheva [ Sat Jan 13, 2001 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

I think that is very true, Grace - it is not at all unusual for people to have several transitions in adult life. <P>Some of this is because we are living longer. It is also more acceptable. In many societies and cultures now one is no longer stuck in any one occupation for life. There is more access to education and information. It is no longer true that if your parent is a carpenter then you will automatically be a carpenter. And, certainly need not be a carpenter for rest of your life. A carpenter could study to be an architect if he/she so desired. That is more and more within the reach of everyone - and hopefully will be even more so.<P>Also, a relatively new concept is retirement. People retire before they are totally unable to function any longer and therefore other fields of endeavor beckon. With retirement funds, government assisted or private, people also now have the means to pursue these other intersts.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited January 13, 2001).]

Author:  Marie [ Sun Jan 14, 2001 7:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

"When you have enough cash to see yourself out..." LOL, Stuart! Now that's funny!<P>I guess I am in a career transition right now, (although sometimes it seems to be moving at a turtle's pace).<P>I've done some arts admin and publicity, which was ok but bored me senseless. I was looking for something I could do part-time which had something to do with the arts but admin seemed to have more to do with budgets (ughh) and bookeeping (double ughh), although I have to say, it was better than waitressing. The main problem was the hours--"office hours" which was usually a conflict for taking any sort of professional dance class. <P>I started doing web design just over a year and a half ago, I sort of fell into it and that led me to working with dance and technology. I used to watch my partner working on web site designs and I just had to figure out how it worked. I liked the fact that it was organized but flexible, in an artistic sense, i.e., the work that goes into the "behind the scenes" is so different than what you see on the monitor screen.<BR>I also liked the flexibility in terms of time commitment since the commercial web design that I do is on a contract basis and a very small two person operation. That leaves me enough energy for choreography although not enough energy to dance for anyone else anymore which is ok because I've been over working for anyone else for awhile now. I just don't feel the drive to perform at the expense of my own artistic process, which is where I was in my 20's. Besides the fact that I'm getting OLD, lol!<P>In a perfect world I wouldn't do commercial design work at all, I would just concentrate on dance and technology. I think I'm pretty lucky though, most of what I do is what I would do whether anyone paid me or not.

Author:  Maggie [ Mon Jan 15, 2001 6:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

While dancing, I majored in art in college, never thinking it would become a career, just wanted to study something I had always enjoyed doing. Years later, it *did* become my career, but not before I began riding horses after injuries sidelined me from dance. I discovered dressage, which had a similar discipline and history similar to dance. And discovered pilates work to keep myself functioning well physically to pursue this demanding form of riding, then I started dancing again, if only for a while. I'm a nut for pedagogy, and all of this tied itself together. Meanwhile, I was continuing my art studies.<P>Now I'm a working artist who teaches sculpture and dressage. I also teach pilates to dancers and serious dressage riders. I serve on the panel our county's arts funding agency reviewing and awarding grants twice a year.<P>Coming off of dance, none of this was easy, or necessarily, as ideas, came to me easily. There were several "birth and death" processes that I went through, but were worth it. Deep in my soul the dancer still exists, but has metamorphosed into different forms to insure its ultimate survival and expression.

Author:  Christina [ Mon Jan 15, 2001 3:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

I come from a family that worships ACADEMIA. Both of my parents were also musicians. My father played accordian and the organ. My mother sang soprano and could shatter glass. She worshipped Maria Von Trapp and even corresponded with her. (Obviously, the first play I ever saw was "The Sound of Music.") My mother was possessed. She wanted to turn her 10 offspring into another Von Trapp family. Many instruments were bought and tried and abandoned. My brothers had no ear for music. <P>One day, my parents heard their 7-year-old daughter playing the organ. She had taught herself to read music. This was perhaps the most unfortunate thing the child could have done. The parents rejoiced, "We have a musician among us!" They sent her for music lessons. Every week the child traveled to a nearby college to be tortured by an elderly nun, who even though legally blind, had perfect aim with her pencil on the child's fingers at each mistake. The child had initially loved music. She was concurrently learning to play the flute with the rest of her class in the 4th grade by an inspired, progressive nun who thought all children could be musicians. The child also wanted to take piano from another nun at her grade school, a merry, laughing creature who made her students look forward to recitals.<P>But no, the child went, alone, forlorn, miserable, to the elderly finger-rapping nun at the college. Once the nun said, "Find the mistake you made. We'll sit here on this bench together until you find it." So the child, equally stubborn, sat on the bench for the next 30 minutes, then put on her coat, and went home. <P>Meanwhile, the child took trips to the little neighborhood library every Saturday, where she sat on the floor, mesmerized by the pictures of exquisite ballerinas. She wished and she asked. But her parents,like many, believed that music was academic. Dance was not. And they had INVESTED in this one musical child. Eventually, they tried to appease the child by giving her a certificate for 10 lessons to an expensive, prestigious but bull-s__t school in a high rent building. The teacher pawned the child off on an assistant the same age as the child because the class was learning their recital piece. <P>The child never forgot about dance. But there was little she could do because she was putting every penny she earned towards private school tuition and other expenses. When she was 18 years old, she saw a college dance department production and was TAKEN. She immediately enrolled, even though the school had a policy of requiring its incoming freshmen to already be proficient at dance. The girl worked hard. (She cried a lot and hurt a lot too.) Technique was tough, but she had a good mind for music and choreography and history (no accident -- the "academic" stuff). She also auditioned, by accident, for a national touring troupe that was looking for singer/dancers. She sang one song and was immediately asked to start rehearsing. She sang and hoofed and toured, and even became dance captain, because she had a patient way and an analytical mind that could break steps down and make them easy for both singer/dancers and dancer/singers. This job gave her plenty of stage experience and paid for college. <P>But she also suspected in her heart of hearts that was she was mostly doing on stage was SCHLOCK. Her teachers and most of her classmates felt this way too. And, of course, being on the road a great deal meant that she had to work that much harder when she got back to class from touring. And by the same token, when she was back in class, she sometimes had to forfeit certain trips and performances, getting a substitute, which eventually cost her her job along with a highly paid tv commercial. Sometimes she felt she couldn't win.<P>One summer, the girl got away. She went to a beautiful area of the state (she'd never been in anything but urban settings) where there was a lovely resort with a plush Chicago clientele. She was paid to wear gowns and play the piano four hours a night. When she wasn't doing this, she took it easy in a little cottage in the woods where she sometimes practiced her music, or she swam, or she laid out in the sun on the resort yacht. It was the most relaxing, gravy job she could wish for.<P>She was still very young, but not by a dancer's standards. And her performing experience thus far had been in rather commercial arenas that had never stretched her artistically or technically. The girl was reading the newspaper from the local town one day and saw an ad for a reporter. She had no experience or skill, but sensed that she needed a life change.<P>She applied by writing a piece for the publisher about her show biz experiences. At the bottom of her application were the words, "I'll work like a horse." Somehow, the girl was hired. She won a state award that year as the best columnist. Within a year, she became the first woman editor in the paper's 113-year history. She spent a number of years honing her journalistic skills.<P>But always, the voice of dance called, sometimes faintly. Sometimes loudly. If time and distance permitted, she would take class from the best schools she could find. But the days of ever considering herself a professional hoofer had long dwindled. <P>When she was 38, she saw Jimmy Connors (a year older than she) make it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon. She was moved to action. She began taking class again, this time in earnest, and against all odds. But this time she would do it for the joy of it. The school director liked her. She told her that she danced with serenity and intelligence. No one at college 20 years earlier had ever told her anything like that. And a funny thing happened -- without the pressure of having to prove herself in a highly critical environment, the girl improved quickly. Within a year, she auditioned for a troupe and was immediately accepted. At the same time, the girl knew that being a singer had been the edge she needed for this muli-talented troupe, and that she would have to work her butt off to keep up with these incredible dancers. These dancers were not particularly easy to win the approval of, either. The girl stuck with it, however, keeping her tears to herself in private. <P>After several years, her fellow dancers finally told her they admired her for sticking it out with them, particularly when she, unlike them, also worked at a full-time job. In her last of four years with them, she toured for a month with them in France. A mysterious virus overtook most members of the troupe, many of whom felt well enough to sight see and party, but who opted out of their work. The girl had a very strange feeling that this would be her swan song. She pushed through the virus and did not party or sight see, but instead fulfilled her performing obligation 100%, wanting her dancers and directors to have good memories of her. When, at tour's end, she announced this would be it, they said, "You can't go! You've worked so hard, and we finally like you." <P>But the girl held her ground. She wanted to leave performing while people still wanted her to stay -- that was the only way to go. She wanted to spend much more time teaching and nurturing in a way that she wished she could have received. "I want to be the teacher I never had," she avowed. <P>Two months after the girl arrived home, she learned she had cancer. She knew this was just another part of the life process. She received surgery and treatment and was out of class for a total of 10 days. What a pleasure it was to take class with no thought of rehearsal. To be able to take care of herself in a way she had forgotten how to do. <P>Dance helped her heal in profound ways. She knew she wanted to use this medium to help others heal. Although the girl had waited years to take her place in a profession at a time when most of her peers were bowing out, she knew she had just begun her relationship with dance, in all its incarnations. At this stage in her life, she is more philosophical than ever. She knows she cannot question why she didn't have a chance as a child to pursue this particular passion. She is just grateful that she will go to her grave with the peaceful satisfaction of having given it her all instead of saying "what if" or "poor me." And because she took that risk, she now allows herself one of those who can say they are "always a dancer."<P>Because it is more than sinew and muscle and arches and rotation. It is the very soul of a human being. <p>[This message has been edited by Christina (edited January 15, 2001).]

Author:  BabsLights [ Tue Jan 16, 2001 3:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transitions in Career

Christina, in a word:<P>wow<P>Thank you<P><BR>

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