My BEST advice...
The biggest question I get asked by young and upcoming dancers is “What's my best piece of advice when it comes to 'making it’?"
I think the first thing you have to consider is what you define as 'making it'. If that means basing your entire income on being a dancer and being booked on all the top jobs then all I can say is this..
To put it simply you have to be good. You have to great. You have to want it so badly you're prepared to work until you make it happen.
I can only speak from my own personal experience. No two dancers' careers are the same. And you should never judge your success based on other people's achievements. You have to know that you've got to give this career more than it will give you. It is not a 'fair' business. You have to not only have the skills, you have to be prepared at the right time and make the most of it when opportunity strikes. And hope that it does.
Nothing about being a dancer is easy. It's not all Instagram pics thanking the choreographers for the best week of your life.
There is more disappointment, anxiety and 'almost' moments than I can describe. There are times when you're not sure how you're going to pay the rent, buy a cup of coffee, have the money to take class let alone the money to pay for parking. There are weeks when I do nothing more than teach. Which for me I love, but it's not for everyone, and not everybody is a great teacher.
Then there are times when you're working and it's the greatest feeling. When you have multiple jobs booked and the opportunity to work on TV or film, overseas or in theatre and it's seemingly all happening. That's what you do it for. Sometimes you have too many things come your way and you can't take every opportunity and even though you're already working you have to say no to bigger opportunities and the disappointment cycle can start all over again.
Can you say thick skin?
And it's different for men and women. By sheer numbers alone there are more women trying to 'make it' in dance. So if you're a guy you have a head start, but if you're a talented guy, then this country is your oyster. I'm not saying that females aren't being employed, the truth is there are just more of us. The more talent, the more people fighting for that job. Of which they will only pick 4 girls and 4 boys, of different looks. So once again you have to be great.
Did I mention that sometimes your competing against some of your greatest friends? But that's a topic for another day :)
I’m not trying to discourage anyone at all. You can absolutely do this. But you need to know that it's not going to be easy. Or fair. You need to be educated in the field you're going into, know your peers, understand the overall industry and educate yourself. Keep your expectations in check and let your work and talent speak for themselves. Also being a nice person helps. I know I’d rather book a good dancer with a great attitude than a great dancer who is a pain in my arse. But that's just me.
There are lots of ‘dancers’ at 19, even less at 25, and I can count on 2 hands the elite commercial dancers still working in their 30’s and 40’s here in Australia.
So you haven’t got a lifetime to dance for JLO.
Dancers are artists and some of the hardest working people I know. I have had some of the best times of my life doing this as a job. But it hasn’t been all roses and social media. And I would love the next generation of dancers to give it their all, armed with knowledge and drive…..and patience.