‘Great teamwork is the only way we create the breakthroughs that define our careers’ – Pat Riley
Huddled on a busy London tube on the way to a rehearsal, with an office man’s armpit in my face and trying to grab on to anything to prevent me from stumbling and standing on someone’s foot, I managed to look at the above quote in an article in a local London newspaper. Since then it has stuck in my mind and I realise more and more every day how much this relates to everyone who pursues a career within this crazy world of dance.
Whether you are a performer, choreographer, teacher, writer, administrator, or a member of a funding team, to name but a few: we all rely on others in order to progress in the careers we wish to achieve.
Having the job title of ‘principal dancer’ is a dream many one day wish to achieve. The key word of ‘principal’ highlights you as a soloist. A dancer who will be in the spotlight with everyone’s eyes watching you, waiting for their minds to take a snapshot of something memorable which is why they paid so much to see you. However, if you look into a dance performer’s career path, they wouldn’t be anywhere without others helping them build a yellow brick road to their ultimate career goal. Teachers throughout a dancer’s training are relied upon to train their class in the correct techniques which are wanted and needed in the industry, which evolves and changes constantly. Without teachers’ criticism, performers would be stuck with nowhere to go.
A performer will then work for a choreographer whose work depends on their dancers attending all rehearsals and training independently in order to present the dance at its best. A choreographer therefore requires assistance when applying for funding in order to achieve the goal of their dance work being presented to the public in the appropriate venue, with correct aesthetics such as costumes and lighting. Funding incorporates a lot of help from dance administrators who are needed to provide health and safety documents when a work is being performed, pay slips for dancers and more importantly, advertising the choreographer’s work to the public and press teams in order for everyone to gain profit and for their work to continue. Without one of these essential individuals, the other would be useless.
Last week I was hired to be one of two hundred dancers in the filming of a television commercial in Covent Garden. There was one five-hour rehearsal which brought everyone together for the first time for the revelation of the costume; an all-in-one skin-coloured body suit which did everything but protect us all from the freezing cold morning air. With such simple choreography my mind questioned why dancers specifically had to be hired for the job, as any individual with some kind of co-ordination could raise both arms in the air and curl over. However, the filming was to take place at 7am the next morning and as soon as I arrived, I found my answer. The teamwork and enthusiasm we all seem to contain automatically raises morale to an ultimate high. It was essential for everyone to work together for the piece to work. To keep us all from catching a cold, constant hopping and huddling together brought conversation on where everyone had come from. There was such an array of answers the list would fill a page. From dancers still in training, graduates auditioning at every opportunity around shift work, dancers in companies, and even competitors from the popular TV show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ who have danced for the whole world to see. Without one of us turning up for the filming, the piece wouldn’t work and it was a great feeling when we achieved the right shot and all of us broke into applause and enthusiastic cheers.
That one job made me realize how without one another we cannot get to where we want to go. So let’s unite and be stronger together, rather than remaining weak on our own. Those who are out for themselves and not interested in helping others will realize this one day and regret being selfish. Those who get pushed out of the way in an audition by those who stride to the front prove to those on the panel that you don’t need to be at the front to stand out from a crowd. If your choreography is refused funding, get baking those cakes and organising events that will help until someone realises how amazing your work is and agrees to fund you. If you have dance students who don’t want to listen and make your life a lot harder by refusing to take their socks off in class, or want to do anything but actually listen, carry on; ignorance is bliss and see how long it takes them to realize that being part of a class is better than watching.
We can do it… together!
The TV commercial