Back when you’re in dance school your teachers warn you about life in the real world.
Meetings are held. The words “parallel career” are thrown at you.
They tell you stories about the dancer who was also a doctor – he would run out of class when his pager called him in for an emergency. There was that girl who made brownies and made a lucrative cottage business. Or the dancer who started a successful dance clothes company.
These ridiculous examples were to be the elements of our survival.
Now how do you get the skills for this parallel career in a program where you have no time, really, to do anything outside dancing, eating and sleeping? Never mind becoming a doctor.
Dance jobs don’t pay, so in the real world you teach or wait tables. But you’ll be lucky to have enough time to make it to morning class. And if you don’t take class, are you a dancer any more?
As for grants (where all the dance money comes from), to be eligible:
- The BC Arts Council requires at least three post-school years of professional experience
- The Canada Council requires “that recent graduates…develop a professional portfolio prior to applying.”
…And only then are you even considered “emerging”.
It’s even harder for a choreographer. To be eligible:
- BC Arts requires two professionally produced works
- Canada Council requires three
…Which means you had to pay your dancers, somehow.
Better start making brownies.
However, some people are trying to fill the gap. Moving Space and Time points out that on Feb 8-9 the On The Move conference (aimed at new graduates) is taking place. I attended it in its first year, 2004, and it looks like it’s been getting better every year.