Feeling Stuck @ Home?
Don't overlook the good stuff.
By Grover Dale
LAUNCHING YOUR CAREER BEGINS AT HOME
Are you serious about going "pro"? Are major job centers like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Las Vegas beckoning to you from too many miles away? Are you feeling stuck in the "boonies" where nothing except your home studio is preparing you for a career in the big city? If "yes" is your answer to these three questions, I have encouraging news for you. There are a number of opportunities in your hometown that can help prepare you for the life you're seeking.
The following strategies, believe it or not, can be explored during your everyday life, inside or outside the dance studio. Read on.
STRATEGY #1: INVESTIGATE THE OPTIONS IN FRONT OF YOU.
If you live in or near a city that's home to a theatre, dance company, or cultural organization, find out if they accept volunteer help or interns. Volunteer a few hours of your time each week. Meet people who are working in the arts. Establish rapport wherever possible.
Use your local library for free access to theatre, film, TV, and trade publications. Devote some quality research time to the performing arts section. Ask library employees if they're aware of any local activities that fall in your range of interests. Run some searches on yellowpages.com for dance instruction, theatres, or arts organizations in your area.
STRATEGY #2: THINK ABOUT THE LIFE CHOICES YOU MAKE DAILY.
Everyday choices about relationships, TV viewing, reading habits, eating habits, finances, friendships, and leisure time impacts our professional goals. How? Because they contribute to the kind of person we're becoming. We owe it to ourselves to understand that no matter how well we sing, dance, or act, the kind of person we are plays a role in our employability. So. why not become the kind of person that a choreographer would love to spend 8 to 12 hours a day working with?
#3: FIND THE STRENGTH TO LOOK AT THE TOUGH QUESTIONS.
As professionals, we are subject to the rules of free-lance employment. Webster's Dictionary defines a free-lancer as "one who sells his or her services to employers without a long-term commitment." Okay. That means we're working at a profession that, by its very nature, cannot offer steady employment. Can you be comfortable not knowing where the next job is coming from? Is financial uncertainty acceptable to you? Generations of pros have found individual ways of dealing with finances. Some came into the profession prepared to take part-time jobs and some relied on loans or support from their families. The smartest ones acquired "financial management" skills before entering the business. The survival budget we create and live by today can make the journey a lot easier. Another toughie: once you see how much dance employment is out there, you may learn that the form of dance you're most committed to, offers fewer opportunities than you had hoped. Are you willing to explore other, more employable, forms of dance?
STRATEGY #4: ACCUMULATE THE INFO YOU NEED.
Workplace and business information has never been so available. How lucky we are to have access to the Internet! Use those websites. Subscribe to trade publications. Inform yourself! "Informed dancers are effective dancers!"
STRATEGY #5: BUILD YOUR OWN SUPPORT TEAM.
Sharing your hopes and concerns about your goals with friends, family members, and teachers is healthy. Weighing the pros and cons of college programs, scholarships, part time jobs, securing an agent, and survival budgets leads to more solutions when you engage others in the process. The advice and support you need may be closer to home than you think.
STRATEGY #6: NON-STOP PREPARATION!
Regardless of the time we invest in preparation, there's always another lesson to be learned and another technique to be mastered. The nature of the "biz" is that it shifts with public tastes, trends, and creative breakthroughs. The tools you need tomorrow may be different than the tools you use today. So, the bottomline is... training never stops. If the idea of non-stop education is a negative to you, consider other occupations that will demand less of you. If dance is the only career choice that will make you happy, get comfortable with being on the path to growth. You're going to be on it a long time!
STRATEGY #7: RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN POTENTIAL!
Accept that there's already a "complete professional" in you just waiting to surface. All it needs is attention, nourishment, and confidence. Most of us know who's responsible for supplying the attention and nourishment, but what about the confidence? How does a 15-year-old deal with that?
Whatever age you are, begin by hearing the praise you get from others, even if it's only about the new sweater you're wearing or how you've fixed your hair. If you're too shy to respond to a compliment, then silently agree with it. Agreeing with praise sends your mind a healthy message...you did something right. In time, you begin to think, "hey, I'm good at this." Simple things like acknowledging the progress you make in dance class, math class, computer operation, or family interactions qualify as confidence builders. A string of them can make a difference. Recognizing what you have to offer as a student, a person, a friend, or a family member leads to believing in yourself ... and there's nothing more valuable when you're facing the realities of competing for jobs. Self-confidence doesn't happen overnight. Address it and be patient about the arrival time. You'll get there.
STRATEGY #8: OBSERVE THE POTENTIAL OF OTHERS.
Observe successful people at work. (family members, teachers, salespeople, business owners, etc.) Do they seem happy with their jobs? Does their behavior attract others to them? Are they connecting with co-workers, customers and employers? Do their personalities have anything to do with their success? Would you enjoy working with them? Do you see qualities similar to your own? Or qualities you'd like to acquire? If "yes" is the answer to any of these questions, it sounds like you have a potential role model. Imitating the "potential" of others while identifying your own is a great step towards personal development.