Monday, August 17, 2009


If I were just starting out, wanting to be a dancer more than anything in the world, what would I do, how would I go about it?

Would I take a couple of classes a day? (I checked around town -- dance classes cost $10 to $15 per class depending on how many you take in a month.) So 40 classes a month is $400? Whoa -- guess I'd take one a day and do workouts at home same as Em has been doing for years.

What would I study? Ballet, free style, acrobatics, tap, ballroom? Yep! ALL OF THEM! Anything I saw dancers do on TV -- tricky fast steps, wriggle-jiggling, tap dance applause-getters, spins on my head, spins on my butt, back flips, no handed cartwheels, and gorgeous wild splits! (Well ... I'm not that limber -- I don't really have that kind of body.)

Hey, stop thinking negatively, a Newbie has to try to do everything, including what she can't do naturally. Newbies have to get technique, get experience on their first few jobs, and earn money to support themselves the first year or so.

(Holy cow ... job hunting today with thousands of wanna-be dancers who are pouffed up, cosmetically fixed up, augmented ... how can I hope to be noticed? Am I going to compete?)

Yes! I'll be going to auditions. Every day I'll read the online sources and learn about casting calls. I took a look just now -- Disney Entertainment, Universal Studios, My Space has listings for commercials, exotic dancers, "freestyle" dancers to interact with customers, dancers for a one-night-stands tour, girl "bachlorettes" -- it says you just have to send your resume and pictures.

(Jeepy weepies ... this is ... exhausting ... why am I feeling so sleepy?)

Look! Right here -- open your big eyes -- "Dancer Nanny wanted;" ad for a Flamenco Dancer; two girls, salary plus room and board -- a group in Vermont called the "Naked Truth Dance Company" wants two girls who are willing to dance ... naked... ?

Okay, I can be a Nanny and do some typing, filing, like I did when I worked for Dance Magazine, (see my April 5 post, "Credentials"). And here's a list of salaries: $450 per week for a ballet company; $2000 for a three-day shoot on a commercial; exotic dancer, $2000 a week plus tips; Broadway Chorus, $1,509 a week, extra if you're a dance captain or an understudy. (The salaries-- aren't they just about what dancers used to be paid twenty years ago?)

STOP. Money is not the point. What's important is the dancing -- flying, spinning, leaping, running -- the lightness, the power, the athletic joys of moving to music! The whole point is the dream. So, what's the big, biggest BIG dream for Newbie young dancer?

Why not emulate someone who's famous right now?

I researched "names" -- looked at three lists -- the only "name" I recognized was Margot Fonteyn. But I'm not going to panic. I'll create a NEW DREAM based on current ballerinas, and young "featured" dancers in shows -- I'll learn the names, look at the pictures, and read the reviews. (I stopped reading them years ago because raves for other dancers made me lose my nerve.)

Maybe I'll strive to be ... a Michael Bennett, the guy who created "A Chorus Line?" If I were a Newbie, would I know who Martha Graham, Anthony Tudor, Agnes DeMille were, or Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey? (Am getting a sinking feeling that hardly anyone knows these names.)

STOP. I never did want to be like anyone else, and I, as a Newbie can have my own vision. (Fact: spur of the moment, EM cannot cook up a vision, because she's an ex dancer, looking at a dance world that she didn't grow up in. Fact: the time to dream is when you're young and you don't know all the reasons why a vision you have is impossible.)

BE PRACTICAL. Focus and work, and try to get on one of those TV shows. Head for "So You Think You Can Dance." The dancers all have hugely limber bodies and tons of technical skill. Or get on "Dancing with the Stars." Study the hit sitcoms, pick a TV star, and pull strings, and offer to dance with him. Or e-mail Randy Jackson, and get in a group on "America’s Best Dance Crew."

(Yikes ... what I love about dancing is doing whatever a movement makes me feel ... whooey, I hate trying to dance exactly the way a bunch of other dancers are dancing!)

STOP. No moaning. I don't want to be like the kids in the finals, on the homestretch of "America's Got Talent," who weep, telling the judges, "Please pick me, this means more than anything, I've prayed for this, worked night and day for this -- oh PLEASE, I need this more than anything in the world!"

Dammit. I've tried to think like a person starting out and I can't. I wouldn't want to be a dancer or a perf0rmer -- not anymore. If I were a Newbie I'd be a doctor!

On my desk, right here to my left, are my ballet slippers. It's 6 p.m. Okay ... so ... well ... Am I going to take my barre and do my dance tonight?

Of course I am. I am what I am, what I am. I'm the popeyed EX dancer..

CLICK "Popeye"

That's me, doing his dance,
doing his moves.

I love spinach!

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