Sunday, September 30, 2012

Funny Misconceptions About Dance

Having a dance career is a challenge to pursue. There's so much that goes into the life of a dancer: auditions, clothes for auditions, shoes for auditions, taking dance classes to keep the body active, paying for dance classes, traveling to dance classes, getting a variety of headshots, getting a variety of body shots, going to the gym, going to see performances, paying for pricey tickets to see the performances, getting good sleep, having fun, and of course, refraining from injury. The list can go on and on, but just from these few examples, one can agree it can get tiring and at times overwhelming. It's well worth it to pursue your dreams and what you love, so that's why I am in this challenging pursuit. But there are so many funny misconceptions from people who don't know much about the dance world.

1. I tell people I am a dancer.

What I think I do                                                                     What people think I do

Linda Celeste Sims
of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

2. I tell people I need to get tape.

What I get from the store                                             What people think I buy from the store

Office Tape!

Toe Tape!

3. I tell people I need tiger balm.

What I use on my aching muscles                              People simply ask "What is tiger balm?"

Huh?! Tiger What?

A dancer's best friend! Tiger Balm

Dance terminology and everyday factors of the dance world can easily be misunderstood by those who are not enveloped in dance or lack enough knowledge about dance in general. Bottom line: dance is more than what it may appear to be to the eye. Behind the scenes and before performing onstage, there's a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into great pointe work, effortless lifts in a contemporary piece, and perhaps flawless partnering in ballroom dance.   Just because someone says he or she is a dancer does not mean he or she can do a flip or do a head spin. Though I salute all different types of dance, from ballet, to Bollywood, to b-boying, one should not jump to conclusions and assume all dance genres are the same or have the same aesthetics! Also, there is a great span of body types that are accepted and displayed within the dance world. In other words, not every dancer is stick skinny and has 8-pack abs! There are beautiful dancers with great flexibility and talent that come in all shapes and sizes. We can laugh at these misconceptions, but we should also educate the public about what it means to be a dancer!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Equity: Am I NOT Adequate?

Everyone deserves benefits, right? In the professional dance world, or any means of professional work, we all want benefits and protection, because reality is, we live in a "dog eat, dog world". So how are dancers protected in the industry? With equity! And what exactly is equity?

Disney’s NEWSIES The Musical (Photo courtesy Disney)
Equity is a union for stage professionals, including actors, singers, and dancers, that has set regulations to protect such performers. For example, under an equity contract, rehearsals require a certain amount of time for breaks. Another example of protection is the amount of pay for each performer. And a great perk of equity is being guaranteed a chance to be seen by casting directors at auditions. In other words, equity is the bodyguard for stage professionals, who are often underappreciated by the public within the entertainment industry. There are a few ways to get an equity card: one of them is being in a Broadway production, because every Broadway production works under equity contracts. Sounds easy, but again, we live in a "dog eat, dog world", that happens to be very competitive and sometimes cut-throat when it comes to Broadway auditions. So it might not be the "easiest" thing to land a gig on Broadway, but you can also pay monthly fees for an equity card. But what if I cannot afford to pay for a card, and I haven't made my Broadway debut? What's so special about "equity-call" auditions?

In my eyes, equity-call auditions really mean "must have experience and must be better than any random dancer off the street". I feel that just because I have not yet landed a Broadway gig, does not mean I am a "bad" dancer or haven't had professional experience or haven't worked with recognizable dance figures. So, if I go to an equity-call audition, and I am not seen by casting directors because of my status as non-equity, I miss out on the opportunity to perform in that production. I was not adequate enough to audition because of the label "equity" rather than me proving myself through dance and performance skills. It gets pretty frustrating! I mean, you don't want to take away from those who have earned an equity card and have had grander experiences and absolutely deserve to have equity. However, what about those of us trying to get our name on the marquee? Any thoughts about equity auditions?