I’ve been thinking a lot about this contract that I landed, and about the (overwhelmingly positive) language my new AD used when she called me up to make the offer.
I’ve been thinking about it because I walked into my last contract as a trainee—basically with the knowledge that I was the dancer in the company with the least experience and that I had the most to catch up on in terms of technique and skills.
In some ways, that was great! It meant I felt safe in the knowledge that I had a lot to learn and was gonna struggle sometimes, and overall being able to think about it that way helped me stay a little calmer about things when I did struggle.
However, I’m now doing this thing where I’m walking on in kind of the opposite position—a full company member beginning the season with a pretty big role in a pretty important show.
And it’s made me re-evaluate my feelings about myself as a dancer.
Like, at first, I was like, Holy heck, what if I’m not really as good as SP thinks I am?
And then I thought: No. She’s seen me in ballet class; she’s seen me in company class already . Also, she’s been doing this for THIRTY YEARS. I’m guessing she knows what she’s about.
- Once again, y’all: if you can ever take company class a time or two before you audition somewhere, DO IT! Also, should I ever actually get Antiphon off the ground, I think I’m going to do open company class for exactly this reason
And thinking that, knowing that I’ve been given a pretty intense brief, I’m like, Okay, in going to try to see myself as the dancer she sees.
And although giving myself the grace of being a trainee helped in the beginning of my career, I wonder if it didn’t also hold me back. There were definitely times that I felt like, Oh, I shouldn’t ask for x or y, or try this or that; I’m just a trainee.
Admittedly, some of this came down to the culture of the specific company: it was very traditional, and thus very top-down. In many ways, that was good for me, but it definitely made me more hesitant to speak up.
Anyway, that mindset stuck and even after I started to realize I was seriously growing as a dancer. I think maybe D is right and I under-valued my own ability and value as a dancer, possibly by quite a bit.
So now I’ve got this new role in my life as a dancer to step into. And that’s really cool, and really challenging, and it’s forcing me to regularly say to myself, No. You’ve got this. Stop thinking of yourself as “not really that good” and work on being the dancer SP saw in the audition
So there it is.
I guess this is a normal thing that happens when you make a big step forward in your career? But I never thought about it because honestly I never imagined having a career until I stumbled into my professional dance career.
I never imagined being able to do anything long enough to get promoted, really (even though I’d actually been promoted in two jobs by then; neither were jobs I could imagine doing for a decade or longer).
Anyway, here we are.
Oh, one last thing: our first show is in the first theater where I ever saw ballet. So this is really like coming full circle and coming home, and I am HERE FOR IT.