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Maintaining A Relationship As A Professional Performer

Relationship As A Professional Performer
By Laetitia Bouffard Roupe

Every artist knows how difficult and challenging it can be to be in a relationship as a professional performer.

When you are a teenager, you train up to eight hours a day. Meeting or socializing with anyone other than your classmates is mission impossible. At the end of the day, you are so tired that the only thing you dream of is a warm bath and bed!

As a girl in the ballet world, it can be even harder to find a boyfriend. Many ballet guys are gay! The rare time you find a straight ballet boy, all the girls in the class just jump on him. In ballet, competition never ends, even when it comes to dating!

When you finally get out of school and start performing and touring with various companies and shows, you meet a lot more people from different countries and with different training, which is really interesting.  However, touring brings another challenge; the length of contracts vary, you work contracts ranging from one-day gala events to commitments scheduled for a year or more. You then have no idea if you will ever meet your new friends again. Everyone continues their own performing life and dreams.

Travel can be one of the best parts of an artist’s life. You often get flown all over the world to perform in front of different audiences.

But travelling frequently without a solid base in one place or city makes it hard to build a long-term relationship.

I’ve watched my artist friends navigate this issue and as a result, I don’t believe in long distance relationships. I will say 90% of them don’t last.

I have to admit that I am an extremely lucky person, or perhaps my soulmate and I were destined to meet. I accomplished mission impossible and found my boyfriend in the ballet world right after school. We are still together now, performing and travelling the world! A few months ago we celebrated 15 years together.

We are a couple both on and off stage, so we spend 24 hours a day together! You might think, wow that’s amazing and perfect but you have no idea how much pressure directors have put on us because we were trying to stay together.

The first time I met Artur, we were both at an audition for Jeune Ballet de France in Paris. I was 16 and he was 19. We admired each other’s talent in the studio from the first day we met. He came to talk to me and told me at the end of the conversation that he really liked me but I was too young! Luckily, we met again a few months later in Paris on a one month tour and by then I was 17…woohoo! Artur is Polish and I am French so the only way we could communicate was in broken English!

At the end of the tour we went our separate ways and continued our lives individually.  A few weeks later he came to visit me in Nancy, France where I was working a nine month contract with a ballet company.

We wanted to stay together, so Artur waited for me to finish my contract and we devised a “how to stay together” plan.

We realized we needed to apply for ballet companies as a couple. We rented a studio and recorded a video of us dancing various “Pas de Deux” and sent this videotape all over the world. There was no YouTube then!

We also attended dozens of live auditions all over Europe – this is when the complications started. Ballet directors are very specific when they are looking for dancers. At the end of each audition, it would be the same result over and over, either I would get the job or Artur would. It was so difficult to find work together. At that point, I think many couples would have given up and said: “I really love you but….” Luckily we didn’t! Our love was strong! It was together or nothing! You can’t give up on someone because the situation is not ideal. Great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems. They are great because both people care enough about the other person to find a way to make it work.

Relationship As A Professional Performer

We thought we got lucky when we auditioned for the famous Bejart Ballet in Lausanne, Switzerland. Miraculously they kept us both to the end of the audition but when we were resting during our waiting time they realized that we were a couple. Once we were discovered, Bejart told us “only Vasiliev and Makarova can be a couple in ballet, sorry.” Another disappointment…but we didn’t give up!

We finally were offered the dream contract we were waiting for. We were able to work together for a company with a great repertoire.  Some close friends of ours got the job too. We moved our entire life from France to Austria and a new adventure began. Everything was perfect. We had great living conditions, a beautiful brand new modern theater, great choreography and friends around us – what more could you ask for? After a month of working there, everything was turned upside down. The artistic director took me to his office and said that he really liked me as a person and dancer and wanted to end Artur’s contract and keep me in the company. Long story short, he wanted me to become his girlfriend. Another director that tried to break our relationship!

We obviously didn’t let it happen. We packed our bags, said our goodbyes and drove around 600 miles to Poland where the director of Gdansk Ballet had agreed to let us finish the season. I think that was the only theater that let us dance and stay together. The only downside was that I had to meet a few of Artur’s ex-girlfriends!

The ballet world can be such a nasty place to live and work when it comes to relationships. We were so disgusted by our experiences in this world that we lost the joy of dancing. Directors had no feelings, things always had to be the way they wanted them. We chose not to let the directors have what they wanted. We decided to do our own thing and became a specialty acrobatic team.  This gave us the freedom to choreograph our own act, design our costumes, choose our music and make our own schedule. There is so much more creativity involved than just dancing how you are told.

After all the years we have spent together, I am convinced that the most fundamental principle for a lasting relationship is communication. We keep no secrets from each other; we speak about anything and everything.

Another crucial virtue – never lie to each other!

As a couple who performs together, trust is also extremely important – especially because we execute dangerous tricks on stage. I truly believe that trust is the best proof of love. Without it, you can never have a joyful relationship.

Relationship As A Professional Performer

Relationships are usually complicated, doesn’t matter where you are from or which industry or business you are involved in. When you find someone that you truly believe is your soulmate, it’s worth everything to protect it.  Having someone by your side loving and caring about you is just priceless.

 

 

Also by Laetitia:

Morning Ritual: 10 Reasons To Drink Lemon Water

Personal Development: Embracing Your Uniqueness

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