How do we make it happen?
Nicole Decsey on how to make your dreams happen without a fairy godmother.
In my fourth year at Ryerson, one very wise instructor told me that I had to make it happen on my own. No one is going to wave a magic wand and make your dreams come true like in the movies...even though that would be nice. We create our own futures.
The first thing to remember when you are trying to make a career for yourself, is letting people in the industry know you are there. This includes taking dance classes, watching shows, and getting in touch. Many choreographers pay attention to who shows up at their performances and to who stays afterwards to talk and mingle. These small post show gatherings are where the important stuff happens. Granted, life gets in the way and it’s important to take care of your mental and physical health first – especially during these difficult times. But when you have the opportunity, don’t miss your chance to put yourself out there. You never know where it could lead.
No one is going to know you want to work with them until you tell them. It may be scary to talk to your favourite choreographer or director, but in the end, it will be worth it and it’s up to you to make it happen. They won’t notice you standing in the back corner praying that they will look your way. At the very least, going up to talk to them will make you stick in their mind a little better the next time you are at an audition. Networking is key. Because as many of us in the industry have come to learn: it is all about who you know. Auditions are great, however many opportunities come from people you met outside of that world. Put your best foot forward in every project you work on, whether they are small or large. Because people will remember that, and when they are looking for someone in their upcoming project you want them to remember your dedication, loyalty, and hard work. Everyone wants to work with someone they know and someone who they believe they can count on.
It’s the same thing when you have your own company, you want to make people know you are here. So, you have to go out and start creating and putting your work out there. New companies are sprouting all the time and making the effort to create their own work. A Dance Way of Life’s editor and my co-writer Rachel Levitt has been creating work for her company Dance : Corps for almost two years now, and she has created some fantastic work.
Let’s here from Rachel…
Building a reputation and following for a company is hard work. You have to be open to trying something, that not working out, and then trying something else over and over. You will see progress if you keep motoring on, but if you mope over the first failure and the second and the third, then you’ll never see success. It takes tenacity, it takes bravery and it takes a willingness to try new things. I applied for every opportunity under the sun when I first started this company, and sometimes I got it and sometimes I didn’t. However, regardless of feeling discouraged, I kept going.
Putting myself out there, contacting people I knew and people I didn’t, took me on all sorts of adventures. For Dance : Corps’ first online show, I emailed some of my favourite Toronto choreographers and managed to secure two to be presented on the bill. Those were Kylie Thompson (New Blue Festival, Dance : Made in Canada Festival) and Alysa Pires (National Ballet of Canada Choreographic Associate). Plus, I got in touch with TheDancePlug and partnered with them to use the show as a way to raise money for their COVID-19 Toronto Dancer's Relief Fund. For Dance : Corps’ first commission, I emailed the Martha Graham Dance Company for a quote to feature as part of the video we were making for Convergence Theatre’s COVID Commissions. Again, we got it! First soloist Anne Souder provided it, and I’m still in awe saying it. Even our first live gig was for a performance I wasn’t sure we’d land. That was the Window of Opportunity Festival for The Assembly Theatre. Good things happen when you stay true to what you want. You won’t always get it, but if you’re mature enough to keep your eyes on the prize you will get closer.
Last year, I had to put Dance : Corps on hiatus due to the toll COVID-19 had on my finances (a company is a big investment as you probably know). However, someday we'll be back. And because of the above, I have confidence that we'll do well.
It’s hard to make a name for yourself and it takes time. Don’t get discouraged, this business is full of rejections. But it’s not about how many rejections you get, it’s about how you get back up after those rejections. Life may not turn out how you expect, but everything happens for a reason. Don’t let go of your dreams, enjoy the ride, and see where life takes you.
Nicole will be chatting with some of her artist friends who are “making it happen” very soon! Tune into our Instagram @adancewayoflife next month for the most comprehensive updates via posts and stories. We will also publish the highlights on here as a blog post following the Instagram features.
Interviewees will be:
· Haley Dimeck
· Melanie Old
· Danielle Deangelis
· Kendra Mio