Updated: Sep 21
The Best Decision of My Career
After years of hesitating and enduring the judgement from peers (not to mention my inner critic!), I made the best decisions of my career: the switch from fine art dance companies into entertainment.
"Oh, you are going to be walking coat hanger for a costume."
This comment from a peer just one the more chilling remarks I received. This dancer held a Master Degree in Dance Performance yet never held a full time performing career. Blinking back my shock I tried to correct her ignorance.
I replied, "The Director of Cedar Lake Dance Company is choreographing Franco Dragon's premier show in Paris with a budget of 22 million. Costumes are by a notable John Paul Gautier assistant, music production by Yvonne Czar..."
I could go on but I lost her at the word "showgirl".
I was going to Paris to be a showgirl. It didn't matter if it was a world famous cultural icon of Paris, with numerous top industry professionals. Unfortunately, in the eyes of an American fine art educated dancer or professor - accepting a job in entertainment means you are low-talent and are selling your soul and artistic integrity.
They are Wrong
Many dancers who stay isolated in the University bubbles lack perspective into the dance industry. More-so, universities and dance schools poo-pooing the entertainment industry has become worryingly pervasive. Perhaps existing within the fine-art bubble blinds them to their own ignorance to the fact there are amazing artistic opportunities in the entertainment side of the dance industry.
The unfortunate result of this limited mindset is that their students’ chances of achieving fulfilling dance careers becomes limited.
Obviously, I am a proponent of schools and universities hiring instructors with fully fledged professional careers in addition to their pedagogy degree and therefore advocate that life experience cannot be taught at universities.
My personal story is that of small town girl with a classical education in modern dance, ballet, and musical theater. Armed with a Bachelor in Fine Art Dance, who found her niche on one of the worlds largest stages in entertainment.
My transition from bun-head to Parisian Showgirl has moulded me into the dancer I am today.
If you want to talk numbers: I have performed for over 1 million live audiences and over 100 million TV audiences within 6 years of breaking into entertainment. Not to mention performing 3,000 live shows. I work with creators of integrity, artists of great caliber, and develope myself as a performer.
If I had listened to the negative comments from my peers in the fine arts, I would have never found my career success as a dancer.
Goes to show you - never listen to the naysayers. Do your own research and find your success. To the former colleague who criticized my choice to become a showgirl, I hope you are encouraging your students to soar into careers that give them wings of success, whether that be commercial dance in LA, TV shows, music videos, variety shows on cruise ships or in concert dance companies. I hope you reach out to me if you or your students are curious about dance careers in entertainment. Education is key.
Art or Money
There is often the myth that money robs art of its soul. There is often the myth that to entertain means to be devoid of real truth. Thus, one can say the entertainment side of the dance industry is in the business of selling souls for SYTYCD ratings. However, they key to good entertainment and good shows is developing an authentic connection with the audience by taking them on an emotional journey.
Simply, great art and great entertainment often overlap.
High art and high entertainment have a lot more in common than some may care to admit. What sells is the show that viewer a powerful journey of joy, sorrow, and human experience. Hence why SYTYCD has soared on season after season. There is a realness within the high production value. Shows without integrity rarely last or attract stable audiences.
Entertainment is not inherently evil. There was a time when I believed that mainstream dance cheapened the art of dance. I was wrong. Certainly, the fine arts and university settings serve a vital role in producing works of great import - but let us not discount the world of entertainment for creating important works of art.
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(Side topic for next article is the ongoing debate (in which I am obviously on the side of the school of hard knocks) is the topic of whether 18 year olds should give into pressure to fork out for a University Dance education that will likely NOT result in a dance career. Which of my readers has gotten job out of college? During college? Before college? TImes are changing quickly, and we hope for the better, but the debate is real. Read up on it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/arts/dance/practice-practice-practice-go-to-college-maybe.html )