Why being unemployed is worse for a dancer than it is for you
As I keep telling you nowadays, I have just recently joined the Győr Ballet after a period of being unemployed. The reason I keep repeating myself is simply because I am so happy, just writing down the sentence makes my day! Because people, dear readers, dear friends: to use an expression suitable for the situation:
Being unemployed sucks ass!
When your work is your passion, not having one is a terrible and demoralizing experience.
“Boo hoo”, you might think, like I’m the only one who was ever unemployed. And partially, you are right. There are people out there, dancers and others alike, that are struggling finding a job in a hard pressed market every day. And I feel with all of them. Both financially and morally, being unemployed is a hard experience I don’t wish upon anyone.
What do you mean, worse for a dancer?
Being a dancer, there is another aspect unemployment you don’t see with office-workers. Dancing professionally is a hard physical activity. It requires you to be on your best shape, something we achieve by training hours every day. Once you don’t have a job, you don’t have a place to do that training, either. No ballet class. And for a professional dancer, no class equals disaster. Yes, you might train at home to a certain degree, and you might be able to find open classes in private studios if you live in the right area. But those classes are not meant for professionals (not to mention expensive), and just simply don’t provide you with the exercises you need to keep in shape. And if you’re not in shape, no one is going to hire you either. The excuse “I’m better than this, but I’ve been unemployed, and couldn’t find a normal place to take class” just doesn’t work in a dance audition. It’s a vicious circle.
Not to mention, as a dancer, you get your job by traveling to the theatre in question, and doing an audition there. While you might get lucky and get a job in the city you are based in, for most people, that means traveling to several different cities, countries, maybe even continents, in search of that contract with your name on the bottom of it. Go unemployed for a while, and those journeys starts to become real expensive. Even on a super-budget (I think dancers around the world has perfected the ‘travel on a budget’ to the finest degree), traveling is expensive. And without an income…
I don’t want to bagatelle-ize anyones problems, neither to upset anyone. I know being unemployed is hard for all people in the position, regardless of their profession. But as I just went through the long and windy road that is unemployment for a ballet dancer, I thought I’d share with you what unemployment means to a professional dancer – unfortunately, in these times, a more and more relevant story.
For more on this subject, and why being unemployed unfortunately is a more and more common position a dancer finds himself at, see the post I wrote on What the recession means to dance professionals. Also, see ‘A Chorus Line’ – the musical that forever immortalized the line: “I need this job. I really need this job”
The dancers in ‘A Chorus Line’ really needs that job!
See you soon, for a more up-beat post on Tights and Tiaras