7 Signs It Might Be Time to Change Jobs
Is it time to break away? PC Thinkstock
Every dancer's career comes with disappointments. Maybe you're not getting cast in the roles you crave. Maybe you realize the promotion you're dreaming of will never come. Maybe you simply don't feel like you're living up to your potential.
But there has to be some balance to our labor of love. How can you know if you're just in a slump, or if it's time to change companies? How do you know if the negatives are outweighing the positives? Here are seven signs that you should possibly consider looking for a new dance job.
1. You're no longer receiving corrections or feedback on your performances. Every artist—in every field—needs feedback to progress. If you're not being pushed, or the artistic staff isn't responding to questions about your personal performance, there might be a bigger problem.
2. Your rank is ruining your relationship with dance. Are all your peers soaring ahead of you? If you know you are truly working your hardest and still feel like you're getting left behind, you might not be in the right environment. A different company could be a better fit for your strengths.
An outside project might be all it takes to feel fulfilled again. PC StockSnap
3. Extracurricular projects no longer fill the casting void. Sometimes when our dance career is in a slow phase, we can fill our time with outside projects like guestings, choreography, workshops, teaching, taking extra classes, etc. But if these activities aren't enough to satisfy you artistically or help you grow, you might need a bigger change than just another new side gig.
4. You can't talk to artistic staff. There are communication failings in every industry, but you shouldn't feel like you are constantly at odds with an "us verses them" mentality. Dancers need to be able to raise concerns about their needs, physical pains and career goals in a safe and empathetic environment.
Find a company that offers you tools to be your healthiest self. PC StockSnap
5. You can't be your healthiest physical self. Every company has its own dynamic when it comes to unspoken expectations for physical health and well-being. You know your body better than anyone—it's your instrument. If your current company is demanding more than you can physically offer, find one that will provide you with the tools you need to create your longest, healthiest career possible.
6. You no longer believe in the artistic direction of the company. Every company goes through changes in artistic vision, whether it's due to finances, artistic leadership or societal influences. Find out the planned repertoire for next season and figure out how your dancing fits into that vision. If you feel like it's no longer a good match for you, don't stay just out of complacency.
7. You realize there is no clear path forward. Artistic leaders are not mind readers. Carve out appropriate opportunities to share your career goals with your director. Assess whether or not your vision for yourself aligns with theirs. Your director should be able to articulate their plan for your career's trajectory. Ask what you can work on to improve and never turn down an opportunity to learn a role that will stretch you artistically. But if your director doesn't see your career headed in the direction you want, take the reins into your own hands.
With her fearless demeanor onstage, it's easy to see how Washington Ballet apprentice Sarah Steele attracted the keen eye of former American Ballet Theatre stars Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel. Promoted mid-season from the studio company by artistic director Kent, Steele was cast by Stiefel as the lead in Frontier, his world premiere for The Washington Ballet, this past spring. For the space-themed piece, Steele donned a black-and-white "space suit" onstage, exhibiting dual qualities of strength and grace. Most evocative about Steele's dancing might be her innate intelligence—she was accepted to Harvard on early admission, and plans to resume her studies there in the future. But first, she'll dance.
Lots of college groups do stepping—a form of body percussion based on slapping, tapping and stomping—but Step Afrika! is the first professional dance company to do it. They are currently at New York City's New Victory Theater, presenting The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, a show based on the painting series by Harlem Renaissance artist Jacob Lawrence about The Great Migration of the 1900s, when millions of African Americans fled the Jim Crow South and traveled by train to the North for a better life. The Great Migration transformed the demographics of the country, and Jacob Lawrence's paintings became famous for their bold color and evocative power.
As we approach Thanksgiving, there's much to be grateful for. Perhaps one of the most important things on your list is dance. Whether you're a full-time company member, an aspiring professional, an audience member, or you simply delight in dancing in your daydreams, this art form is a creative escape.
That's not to say that being a dancer is easy: Pursuing such a competitive career can be heartbreaking, especially when you're faced with rejection.
La Folía, a short dance film by director Adam Grannick that was recently released online, echoes these sentiments in under 12 minutes.
It took two years of intense nutrition counseling and psychotherapy to pull me out of being anorexic. My problem now is that I've gained too much weight from eating normally. Is there no middle ground? I can't fit into my clothes, but I don't want to go back to being sick.
—Former Anorexic, Weston, CT
We always figured that stretching made us more flexible by loosening up our muscles and joints. Some of us, ahem, might have even tried to fall asleep in our middle splits to get our stubbornly stiff inner thighs to let go.
But it turns out that might not actually be how stretching works.
A new review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports suggests that increased flexibility actually comes from your brain growing more used to the tension.
Efficient movement is easy to recognize—we all know when we see a dancer whose every action seems essential and unmannered. Understanding how to create this effect, however, is far more elusive. From a practical perspective, dancing with efficiency helps you to conserve your energy and minimize wear and tear on the body; from an artistic point of view, it allows you to make big impressions out of little moments, and lasting memories for those watching.
So much struggle and determination goes into your training that it can be difficult for early-career dancers to recalibrate their priorities toward simplicity and ease, says Laurel Jenkins, freelance performer and Trisha Brown Dance Company staging artist. "Your aesthetic might shift, and you might have to find new things beautiful." Mastering the art of effortless movement requires a new perspective and a smart strategy—on- and offstage.
Whatever your feelings about Wayne McGregor's heady, hyper-physical choreography, we can all probably agree on one thing: We'd really, really love to pick his brain. And tomorrow, Dance Umbrella, a UK-based dance festival, is giving everyone the chance to do exactly that.
"Women are often presented as soft, fragile little creatures in ballet," says Léonore Baulac. "We're not." The Paris Opéra Ballet's newest female étoile is discussing her unease at some of the 19th-century narratives she portrays. "It was real acting," she says with a laugh of La Sylphide. "James kills her by taking away her wings, yet she tells him not to worry and goes to die elsewhere onstage!"
Sitting in the canteen of the Palais Garnier, Baulac embodies some of ballet's contradictions in the 21st century. With her fair curls and dainty features, she could easily pass for a little girl's fantasy princess. As Juliet, she exuded a girlish ardor that felt entirely natural; her reservations notwithstanding, her Sylphide was committed and carefully Romantic in style.
Yet the 27-year-old is no ingénue. At Garnier that day, her sweater reads "I can't believe I still have to protest this s**t," a feminist slogan; last winter, Baulac proudly wore it over a Kitri tutu on Instagram. And her repertoire is as thoroughly modern as she is offstage. A versatile performer even by Parisian standards, she is equally at home in Nutcracker as she is in the works of Pina Bausch and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
You know Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo as the men who parody your favorite ballet variations—and make it look good. But there's more to the iconic troupe than meets the eye.
A new documentary, Rebels on Pointe, goes behind the scenes of the company, and it's full of juicy tidbits about what it's like to be a Trock. These were some of our favorite moments:
After 30 years of pioneering work in physically integrated dance, AXIS Dance Company co-founder Judith Smith has announced plans to retire from the Oakland, California, company. Throughout her tenure, she strived to get equal recognition for integrated dance and disabled dancers, commissioning work from high-profile choreographers like Bill T. Jones. Her efforts generated huge momentum for expanded training, choreography, education and advocacy for dancers with disabilities.
By phone from her home in Oakland, Smith reflected on how far the field has evolved since the early days of AXIS, and what's yet to be done.