A Dancer’s Life For Me, Part 2
In a dancer’s life, anyone who is fortunate enough to have landed their first professional gig in the arts knows that feeling, the elation you feel when you receive the call and the job is yours.
Suddenly it’s hard to hear above the deafening pounding of the blood pumping around your body, your stomach feels as though you are on an amusement park ride – the kind that suddenly propels you upwards without any warning and leaves you dangling high above the earth, taking in the view, then there is the moment of sheer panic when you suddenly wonder if you heard correctly – they did say I got the job, right?
And when you have confirmed that yes, you did, in fact, hear correctly, it’s ON! You text everyone you can think of, quit your day job and you think, FINALLY, I’m going somewhere. You can’t wipe the smug smile off your face when you think of all the naysayers who looked down their noses and said you’d never make a living doing what you love.
Anyone who is fortunate enough to have felt that feeling is more likely than not, also unfortunate enough to have felt the crushing pain of disappointment when a gig falls through.
I learnt very early on that nothing is a sure bet and you should never count your chickens before they hatch. There are plenty of reasons why a job can fall through – lack of funding, disagreements among the creative team or maybe the client just changed their mind?
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter; you’re now out of a job and have gone from cloud nine to ground zero faster than you can say ‘chookas!’ It can be devastating especially if you passed up other opportunities for a job that falls through but however cliché it may sound, it’s important to remember that when one door closes, another one opens (cue eye roll).
I know, I know! It’s what everyone says to try and make you feel better when your dreams are crashing down around you but seriously, for every gig that falls through, you have to trust that there is something better and more suited to you, just around the corner.
It may take a while for you to find that corner, but it’s out there and it’s this belief that you will need to hold onto with every ounce of strength you have because this is what will get you through those dark days and let me tell you, there will be plenty.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. If you are lucky enough to land a job, I am not saying you shouldn’t celebrate. You earned it and you deserve to jump up and down with excitement and be proud of your achievement. And I’m not saying you should go into every job thinking that it will fall through because that pessimistic view will get you nowhere.
All I’m saying is, when you get the call, pause, take a breath and think before you go posting on Facebook & sending out tweets the second you hang up the phone. Just remember, if for whatever reason the plug is pulled, you don’t want to spend the next few months awkwardly explaining to everyone on the World Wide Web why the gig fell through and you’re still waiting tables. It will do nothing for your self-esteem and it’s hard to remain positive about the future when you are constantly re-living the past.
Perhaps it would be wise to keep the celebrations to close friends & family at the beginning and go crazy with the social media posts when you are actually slapping the show make up on your face.
To put things into perspective, one of the first auditions I did was for an agent who was hiring for a show performing in a resort in Thailand. The contract was for two months. I was still studying full time performing arts at the time and took the afternoon off to attend the audition. As luck would have it, I got the part and was hired as the vocalist for the show. I was ecstatic.
I couldn’t believe that I landed my first job so quickly. I would be performing by night and lying by the pool by day. 2 weeks before rehearsals were due to start, I received a phone call. The gig was off. The resort had managed to source some Russian performers at a cheaper rate and had canceled our contract.
Just like that, my first job was over before it even began.
I was heartbroken but I listened when people told me something better would come along because the thought of the alternative was too terrible to entertain. The agent promised me that whatever work came up next, she would put me forward for. It was a while before I heard from her, maybe a couple of months, but nevertheless the call came one sunny morning while I was lying on Coogee Beach after a refreshing dip in the ocean.
She had a job for me and this time it was a 9-month contract on board a cruise ship. That 9-month contract turned into a career that spanned over 10 years at sea and is now continuing on land back in Australia. I met life-long friends and my other half while on board and I’ve been around the world twice (literally – I’ve done 2 world cruises!).
The Thailand job getting canned was the best thing that could have happened and I’m so grateful for the doors it opened and the experiences it afforded me. So if a job is canceled on you, don’t despair as you never know what’s waiting around the corner….
Also by Natalie Davids: