Bubble. Bubble. Pop.
It’s easy to get caught up in the bubble. Ask my parents and they will easily tell you that I have been caught up in the ‘job’ bubble more times than they can count!
Forget about the effort that it has taken to even get a ‘job’ in the first place, let’s talk about what can happen when you’re there…
The first thing I notice is people complain.
About the hours
About the lack of parking
About how much they aren’t being paid
About how hard it is
About how there’s no time to warm up
About how they have to warm up
About how that other person is on the job
About how they should have that part/role/understudy/centre front
About the costumes
About the lack of costumes
And so on and so forth...
I’ve seen it happen from first-timers to old-hands. I've seen girls on their first gig be so competitive that they don’t speak to any other dancer, or help them out with questions. I’ve seen people on gigs rock up hours late without an apology. I’ve seen people with their first Major Role whinge and complain that the show is taking up their whole life. And of course I’ve heard how everybody is moving to the USA or London after this ‘job' because Australia is not enough for them.
I’m not always exempt from the above either. Performers are sensitive people. That sensitivity allows us to be vulnerable and expressive and make people feel something. That’s what I love about us.
But it’s time to stop being UNGRATEFUL.
You have a career span of around 10-15 years…Are you going to whinge and complain for all that time?
Dancing is hard. Physically. Mentally. Financially.
But what did you expect?
You are always sacrificing something. Your body. Your wallet. Your personal life.
But here’s the catch...
You have a choice in being there. Nobody forces you into it. In fact you probably beat 100 people to be where you are. Every class, audition, success and failure has brought you to this point. Nobody is forcing you to be paid to learn a few lots of 8. Expectations kill experiences.
There is always an exception to the rule, but you won’t be the star/favourite/soloist/leading man/featured girl AND highest paid dancer on your first gig. You have to earn it. That’s the challenge. That’s the fun bit!
Don’t get me wrong, ask Sally Hare and she will tell you I am absolutely an advocate for dancers being respected whilst striving for greater conditions in our field. A bottle of water and a chair aren’t too much to ask for! I absolutely believe if you respect the dancers you’re working with then you will get the best out of them. And I hope by the time I retire, I have played a part in improving the conditions for all professional dancers.
If you like getting paid, then you are required to show up and check your ego at the door. Too often the dance industry can seem like a big high school, but it's not, it’s a workplace with OHS and Government regulations. And I don’t know about you, but high school was hard enough the first time.
So when the job gets hard, and it inevitably will, recognise how it’s affecting you and DO something about it. Keep your life going outside the job and around what you do so it doesn’t become everything about you. It’s too easy to complain and be negative. Our fear of not being good enough can manifest into a bad attitude.
It’s taken me years to figure out what I need to do outside job so I can turn up present and accounted for. I’ve almost quit numerous times. But I love it and I needed to fill myself up in other ways so I could enjoy everything I’d worked so hard and sacrificed for.
There will always be drama and strong personalities. You have to be a little bit crazy to do what we do. But you can choose how much the drama affects you. Most of the time it’s just not worth it, I promise.
It’s okay to have a few bad days, just not a few bad years.
And it’s a tough thing to acknowledge, but if it’s not making you happy anymore then you have to reconsider why you’re doing it.
Most of the time, you just have to acknowledge what’s going on and how you feel about. It almost always seems trivial after that. Once you booked the job. YOU booked the job. You did it. Now I dare you to enjoy it.
And I promise you it could always be worse. You haven’t had to dress as a dancing cow and sell milk in the supermarket…yet.
I think Taylor Swift put it best. Shake it Off. Shake It Off.