Haters Going to Hate Success
Transition from a Career in the Fine Arts to Entertainment
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.
It went something like this:
"Oh, you are going to be walking coat hanger for a costume." was just one the more chilling remarks I received from a colleague and university dance professor. Blinking back my shock I tried to correct her ignorance. "The Director of Ceder Lake Dance Company is choreographing Franco Dragones' premier show in Paris with a budget of 22 million. Costumes are by a notable John Paul Gautier assistant, music production by Yvonne Csar..." 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. It wouldn't matter that I would share the stage with A-list talent and celebrities. 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.
First, a brief back story about my dance journey: My first teachers danced with Debbie Reynolds ("Singing in the Rain" actress), performed on Broadway in "Cats" and toured internationally performing for American Troops at war. They supported a wide variety of careers in the dance industry. I left those teachers to focus on an elite ballet education. Reader, if you know anything about the insular ballet world, then you know there is a high propensity for snobbery. Within that culture of fine art elitism, I attended a Fine Art Dance Program which furthered notions that entertainment is low art.
But they are wrong. 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.
Mine is the success story of a small town girl with a classical education in modern dance, ballet, and musical theater. Armed with a Bachelor in Fine Art Dance, she bravely found her niche on one of the worlds largest stages in entertainment. My transition from bun-head to post modern dance, via a return journey to ballet with Russian technique, before finally landing in Parisian showbiz has moulded me into the dancer I am today. And if you want to talk numbers...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.
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 indeed in dance companies. I hope you reach out to me if you or your students are curious about dance careers in entertainment. Education is key - even if it is gained through another medium than an unfortunately insular university program.
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 and when I believed that mainstream dance cheapened the art of dance. I was wrong. Oh and SYTYCD will not sell your soul to the devil.
#Ballet #Choreography #Performance
There is oft the myth that money robs the soul from art. There is oft the myth that to entertain means to be devoid of real truth. Thus, entertainment side of the dance industry is into selling souls for SYTYCD ratings. I am not debating that compromising artistic integrity for what sells does or does not exist in the dance entertainment world. Because it does exists. However, they key to good entertainment and good shows is developing a authentic connection with 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. What sells is what gives the viewer a powerful journey of joy, sorrow, and human experience. Hence why SYTYCD has soared on season after season. There is realness within the high production value. Shows without integrity rarely last long or attract stable audiences. There is not inherit evil in entertainment. Yet, I believed that mainstream dance cheapened the dance. I was wrong.
About the author
Written and researched entertainment articles written by an insider based in Paris, France. Articles have been republished in France, the UK, Australia, the United States in tech, luxury, lifestyle, and entertainment journals.