For some reason, our dance industry has determined we are only a successful dancer if we are getting all the gigs, appeared on So You Think You Can Dance, landed a musical. But what about just dancing? What if for one moment we remove the focused ‘professionalisation’ of this industry and simply danced for our own pleasure, for the pleasure of family and friends, for our artistic expression and exploration. What if the money didn’t matter?
Ten years ago I flew to NZ the very day the auditions were held for the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. All my colleagues/friends landed the role of paid dancer with Kylie Minogue. Knowing that I just had to be a part of the Olympics somehow, I convinced William Forsythe to let me partake as a dancer in the volunteer section. To this day, it has to be my most enjoyable, memorable gig. And my most unpaid gig! I ran into that stadium with a surfboard balanced on my head, with a bunch of mates from all walks of life that I had come to know over the rehearsal weeks, to an audience of 110,000 people banging their eski lids and I was overwhelmed. I had no nerves just pure adrenalin. I wasn’t stressed about making an impression – who on earth would see me? And wouldn’t you know it, internationally I got screen time. Proudly holding my surf board, filled with joy and emotion, punching out the massed chorey moves, and completely unpaid!
Sure, we need to pay rent. But I often ask the full timers I train, what would you do if money was not an issue? Imagine the creativity abound in our community if money did not determine the value of our work. There are some great avenues for choreographers and dancers to show off their talents at industry nights. I applaud those who not only facilitate these events, but also believe in their worth.
Some gigs are for the money, but may I suggest that not all gigs need to be about the money. When did you last dance just for you? Remember when you were a kid and danced all Saturday afternoon long in the back yard? Maybe that’s a kiwi thing?! I’m just throwing it out there for those who may love dance but find that sometimes it’s all about getting a gig, any gig just to say your dancing. You can still dance – and I personally believe the overall value you will receive from dancing to nourish yourself is more than any client could ever pay.
Go on, turn out the lights, put on the music and create!
By Dale Pope

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