“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen
You know when I want to laugh most? Every time someone says to me, “wow, you are so lucky you get to dance for a living.”
I don’t want to be snarky, or rude, or come off as if I don’t appreciate following my passion for a living, so I often say something along the lines of, “well, there’s a lot more to it than just dancing.” But what I really want to say falls along the lines of:
Is it lucky that I’m spending 8 hours on a Saturday updating my website, and I only got through 2/3 of my homepage? (And yes, every single page on a website has it’s own thing happening, and most of us don’t pay attention to the fact that there are around 15-20 pages if you DON’T also blog on there. )
Is it lucky that I have to spend hours upon hours each week making sure I send every single class, workshop, or offering I do to multiple outlets with the hopes that it will get to some people who will hopefully sign up so that I can pay my rent?
Is it lucky that if I don’t have people sign up, I still have to pay my studio rent on top of my own rent and other bills, plus figure out another way to drum up some money with which to survive?
Is it lucky that I constantly have to think of new ways to market, new places to market, without having a marketing budget?
Is it lucky that I have to be my own accountant, admin assistant, creative director, marketing coordinator, and CEO, often all in the same day?
Is it lucky that some students do their best to nickel and dime me, get upset if I don’t spend extra time with them outside of class giving them instruction they haven’t paid for, and often come at me from a “but you’re my friend” or “you owe me this” stance because “you love doing this work”?
Is it lucky when people demand video and/or photos from a show when it takes hours to cut and upload video, and to go through photos and upload them, which is again time I’m not getting paid for?
Is it lucky that for every show I put on, I have to not only create a multitude of dances (which sometimes comes easy, but many other times does not), go back and break my creation down into bite-sized pieces so that it can be taught (hours of which I am NOT getting paid for), teach it, re-teach it when people don’t remember it, and practice alongside my students, but I have to deal with a multitude of personalities that want and expect different things from me? I have to spend countless hours on correspondence with the person I’m booking with, guest acts, sending information about the show to a multitude of newspapers, magazines, creating FB invites, creating and printing marketing materials, hanging up flyers all over town often completely on my own (my Achilles heel), create a tech set-up list for lighting, transitions, music, create a stage set-up list for dancers transitions, write and develop notes for the MC, cut music, create videos, make sure the costumes are gonna work, pick the non-profit we’re donating to and be in touch with them, and then if we have a table at the show with guest information or stuff to sell, make sure that’s taken care of, dinner, food and drink for dress rehearsal and in the green room at the show, keeping track of ticket sales and money, making sure all the professionals get paid, cleaning up after the show all the stuff that people leave behind as they go to party. I also have to spend a lot of time keeping people positive, because there is always at least one person who goes into deep negative-land, and that seeps out quickly to the group.
Is it lucky that I get to hear the rumblings about the choreography I created, and be blamed for people not learning their dances?
Is it lucky that only a few people from each show really thank me for the work I’ve put in, much of which I have done for free?
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But luck does not get me through.
You know how I do it for a living? Because I work REALLY HARD AT IT. It’s not luck; it’s perseverance that leads to opportunities. And sometimes not…sometimes, I work really hard and get seemingly nothing in return. But that is the truth of following your passion – it is real and raw and glorious and painful and will make you grow like nothing else. You will carry the weight of the world on your shoulders and then you will shine like a beacon for the masses, often in the same week.
And trust me, God (or in my eyes, the Universe) definitely laughs when I tell it what’s up next.