Is Being a “Professional Dancer” an Achieved Status or a Mindset?

Hello everybody!

Today I want to address something important. This is especially important for all of my fellow dancers who are just coming out of a college dance program, or those who are only one or two years removed from undergrad.

See, in undergraduate dance programs, the professors and dance directors warn students that finding professional work is hard (Most do, but if not, than THEY SHOULD). They say the performer life is hard because a lot of professional dance company work (especially in NYC) is unpaid, or a stipend is the only compensation for MONTHS of time and energy put into rehearsals. They warn students they will hear more “No’s” then “Yes’s”. They even warn students that most of the time, they will be paid more to teach dance than to perform dance.

When young dance graduates find a company or dance project to work with, how do they handle putting in a ton of effort for little or sometimes no pay? Does little or lack of pay make what they’re doing any less “professional”? If the company someone dances for doesn’t offer benefits or a steady income, is she not as “professional” as someone who dances for a company that does provide those benefits and income?

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I’ve discovered a lot in this past year removed from undergraduate school. What I’ve discovered is all of what my dance director and professors warned me about is true. I’ve discovered I will see the same 60 people at every small contemporary/modern dance company audition because we all want the same jobs. I discovered I will pay more money to commute in and out of NYC to audition for jobs and companies that are not even willing to pay me even if I was hired.

However, I also discovered that the small companies and dance projects I work on require just as much time and energy as projects within a “bigger” company would. If I am working on a contemporary dance piece for a private, small company that requires unpaid weekly company class/rehearsal, and weekend rehearsals/traveling/shows, what separates the professionalism of that situation from a company who does the same thing but has a more well-known name (ie: Paul Taylor Company, Alvin Ailey)?

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Is it because more well-known companies are established and have a historical legacy? Yes, that probably has something to do with it. And it makes sense to feel that way when people perform with a small dance company not many people have heard of. But, if I take myself and my work seriously, I will be viewed seriously. And if I am viewed seriously in my dance endeavors, why would I not be viewed as a professional? Even if I do not necessarily like the choreography I am dancing, if I keep my attitude towards it professional, I will act and be viewed as such.

The title “dancer” or “artist” in general is very unspecified. Just because someone doesn’t have a piece of their art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC doesn’t make them any less of an artist. If they are mentally and physically invested in what they are creating, they are a creator. They are an artist because they view themselves as one! Granted, if the opporunity arose to have art displayed in the MET or to dance with New York City Ballet for example, obviously those achievements are milestones in someone’s artistic career that should be celebrated. However, what I’m saying is not any one who makes artwork can call themselves an artist (although they did create something classified as artwork).

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A real artist or dancer (in my context) is someone who is investing most of their time and sometimes even most of their life to their craft. They are the people who are constantly in search of improvement and knowledge in their field, while simultaneously teaching others about their craft through sharing their craft with others and with their community. Their mindset is focused on consistently bettering their art.

Let me put it this way – the CEO of a Fortune 500 company doesn’t walk into work everyday thinking she or he cannot handle the day, and that their job responsibilities are outside of their skillset. No. The people who make it to CEO, CFO, principal dancer, company soloist, “professional”, etc. KNOW their worth and they KNOW their skillset. That is why they are in those positions. They believe they can handle whatever tasks are thrown their way because this is what their years of training, education, and experience has prepared them for. Even if someone is dancing for a small company and is not being paid as much as much as she would like to be or thinks she deserves to be, it is still an achievement and progress to have made it into a company after graduating a college dance program.

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In short, professionalism begins with the right mindset. The more someone believes they are a professional, the more they will begin to act like one. And once opportunities arise, even in small companies (or small art galleries!), the more it will reinforce the professional mindset. This mindset is what will bring someone to where they want to end up in their field (dance, art, business, whatever!).

Aim high, shoot higher. Don’t lose sight of who and where you want to be.

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Dancers, Fairies, and Road Trips!

Hello beautiful readers!

Holy apologies – I have been so absent lately for good reason, and I wanted to update you all on my life and tell you what is coming next for me!

Last week was my final week of teaching, and my final week of rehearsals for the company’s big show. On Saturday June 9, the Warwick Dance Collective presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream ballet, and I danced the roles of a lead fairy attendant and a maid of honor at the triple wedding in act II.  (See Related)

Related: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Fairy Makeup and Hair

I am not a ballerina, however, the company I dance with right now performs mostly ballet, and I am trying to teach myself how to dance gracefully in pointe shoes! This show was particularly challenging because I have never danced en pointe in a show for any longer than 5 min. I realized the brand of pointe shoes I’ve been rehearsing in are not the best shoe for my feet.

Anyway, there will be official video and pictures emailed to me, but below are images of my official fairy/bridesmaid makeup, and a picture my dad snapped of me from the audience.

In addition to having a fun time performing, I was accquainted with new dancers! My director brought in all of the male dancers from other companies, and they were all so fun and kind. I’ve never met a better bunch of dancers to work with on a project! Although hectic, overall Midsummers was a great experience!

The following day, Sunday June 10, I drove 10 hours south to the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC! The drive was not bad, and my mom came with me. I drove all 10 hours because I wanted to see if I would be able to do it when I was that tired – and I did! I was exhausted from my crazy week, but I knew it would be a push from show weekend until the end of ADF.

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Can’t stop won’t stop! Am I right?

I am officially here, and my first day of work was today. I am working in the performances office, and I am so excited I have the opportunity to meet a lot of the choreographers who come to dance, teach, and perform at the festival. Today, they literally put my ass to WERK. I did so much manual labor I feel like my arms are going to fall off. And tomorrow I have to pick up dancers of Shen Wei Dance Arts from the Raleigh/Durham airport. Crazy right? I might be picking up the ACTUAL Shen Wei – uhmm what?! So cool!

Thursday is the official start of this year’s festival, and I have a crazy weekend coming up as well. There will be a lot of auditions, classes, and work to do so I may not get around to posting until Sunday to let you all know about my week. I am going to do a summer series of ADF posts on my journey here, my work, progress, and the adventures I find myself on!

Also, I just want to quickly shout out my beautiful mother for being an ABSOLUTE ANGEL and driving with me, going food shopping for me, helping me move in, and providing more love and nurturing than I deserve! She helped me prepare and execute SO MUCH for this trip, and this trip would not have been as comfortable or smooth if she was not here to help me. So thank you momma! I love you!

Until next time, I hope you all have an amazing week!

Xoxo

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Fairy Makeup and Hair

Hello everyone!

This weekend has been so crazy because I have been preparing for my company’s production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is so funny because I never imagined myself dancing professionally (on pointe no less) with a ballet company as one of my first gigs, however, ballet is the reason I fell in love with dance. More specifically, my “Barbie in the Nutcracker” VHS is what made me want to start taking dancing lessons when I first saw it at the ripe age of 6 years old!

I didn’t actually take dance until I was 10 (and my first year of dance was not ballet, unfortunately). But anyway, it is so funny how life presents these moments where everything comes full-circle. I am dancing as a demi-soloist, and dancing the roles as one of the lead fairy attendants to Titania, and a lead bridesmaid for the wedding in Act II. The company had a fundraiser performance for our full-length production this weekend, and I wanted to show you all my makeup and costuming I had for the fairy dance!

I used the Morphe x Jaclyn Hill palette to create this eye look, and the Ciate London Fierce Flicks liquid eyeliner pen. I LOVE how it turned out. My lips are Colourpop Lippie Stix in the color Lumiere.

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I used M.F.E.O. and Pooter in the crease. Then I used Faint on the center of my lid, with Hustle blended toward the Outer V. I added the colors Buns and Chip to deepen the Outer V. Then I added Sissy (a pink with gold flecks) as a topper to the center of the lid, and lined my lower lash line with it. I added the color Beem to the inner corner!

I didn’t snap a good image of my eye makeup because the lighting in the venue was so yellow and dim. However, this is a closer look at it.

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In the next set of pictures, I’ll show you more of my costume with the other lead fairy attendant. These images were from a performance two weeks ago (where I accidentally didn’t bring my eyeliner, but used the same colors). The lighting in the hallway was perfect for pictures.

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I love being able to wear my hair down for the fairy scene, and wear a flower crown!

And another one!

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6 year old Julia would have DIED to dance in this costume, especially with wings!

I am excited for this performance. It is the first time I will be dancing in pointe shoes in front of an audience in a professional ballet performance. It is coming up in June, and I am hoping to write another post in my bridesmaid costume and hair!

This summer is going to be filled with dance, movement, and progress, and I cannot believe it is all coming up so quickly. Also, the first half of 2018 is almost over – WHERE IS TIME GOING!?!

Let me know what you all think of my makeup and costume! I hope you like it as much as I do!

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Dealing with Your Period as a Dancer – Auditions, Class, Rehearsal, & Performance

Hi everyone! Let’s talk about periods today – I’m not talking punctuation. I mean our monthly “gift” that reminds each of us every month that we are women and that we are not pregnant. From mood swings, to bloating, to nausea, fatigue and pain, periods can disrupt everyday life if the symptoms of PMS and your period are severe.

So how do we, as dancers, deal with our periods when we have important auditions, classes, rehearsals, or even shows coming up? How do you manage your flow when you’re required to wear only a leotard and tights, or are put in a skimpy costume and have to dance on stage? Here are some tips on how to deal with your monthly visitor and try to control her severity.

  1. Avoid caffeine the week leading up to your cyclegiphy

    This one is hard for us coffee-addicts, but caffeine actually makes your period cramps WORSE! My OBGYN recommended to me that I avoid (as much as I can) caffeine intake when I am expecting my cycle so I can avoid intense cramps. She also recommended to take TWO ibuprofen (or Advil) a day three days before your period is supposed to come to reduce inflammation and pain intensity!

  2. Take Midol or an anti-inflammatory before your class or audition to reduce bloating and other symptomsgiphy1Midol is great at reducing bloating, cramps, and the symptoms of PMS. If you don’t like Midol, try bringing Advil or an anti-inflammatory. I get bad migraines when I’m on my cycle, and anti-inflammatory medicines help reduce my nausea and headaches! If taking medicine is not up your alley at all, try eating foods that fight bloating the week you’re supposed to get your period. Cucumbers, watermelon, honey dew melon, bananas, egg whites, Greek yogurt, and grapes can all help fight your belly bloat.
  3. Wear an outfit that is appropriate for your class/rehearsal/audition, but also an outfit that makes you feel confidentgiphy4Okay when we are bloating and on our periods the last thing we want to do is be half-dressed in tight clothing with important people (teachers, casting directors, rehearsal directors, etc.) scrutinizing our bodies. Try to accomodate your outfit so you are the most confident you can be. Afraid your panty-liner may show in your penche? Try putting on a wrap skirt. Are your breasts swollen and you need more support or coverage? Add a wrap sweater or a sports bra to keep you suported and feeling confident.
  4. BRING ENOUGH TAMPONS, PADS, & LINERS TO LAST YOU THROUGH YOUR DAY. ALSO BRING EXTRA CLOTHING!giphy3I cannot stress this point enough – bring extra feminine products so you know you are prepared for a long day! During the heaviest flow days of your cycle, sometimes pads/tampons will need to be changed every 2 to 3 hours (depending on your body and your cycle that month). So come prepared with extra everything!! – Even bring an extra outfit in case there are accidental leaks or stains (sometimes you can’t help leaks when you’re doing petit allegro!)
  5. Do your best, and don’t let your period come in-between you and your training or performancesgiphy2Your period shouldn’t slow you down! Keep your head up, and don’t let the stress of your period disrupt your training or any of your dance endeavors.

xoxo

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Crochet Bun Cover Cozies

Hi everyone!

I am really excited to announce a new item on my Etsy shop: Julia’s Leaps of Faith Shop! For all of you bunheads out there – whether you are a dancer or a busy lady on the go – I am now selling homemade crochet bun cover cozies to keep your bun/hair in place!

For dancers, they are perfect for class, rehearsal, auditions, or as a costume accessory! For the everyday lady, they are a cozy accessory for the fall and winter! There are a lot of color options available, so you can have a color to match any outfit! Solid colored bun covers are $7.00 a piece!

Furthermore, I also have multi-colored yarn options available for .50 cents more, and they look super adorable! Multi-colored bun covers are $7.50. I personally love the way Rose Blush looks (pictured below)!

These bun covers are able to be finished with an elastic or with a satin ribbon! The satin ribbon can correspond to the color of the yarn, or you can mix and match colors!

I LOVE making these, and I hope if any of you decide to buy one and try it out you love it as much as I do.  Please feel free to comment any questions you may have, or let me know what you think of them! Be sure to check my Etsy to purchase!

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Until next time! Xoxo

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