I ostensibly moved to New York, like gazillions of other young adults, to perform. During my four years in that city, I performed in only five or six different productions. I did book a couple of other jobs that I was unable to accept due to my college schedule. (I couldn't bring myself to drop out mid-semester to tour the country as a dancing bear for $300 a week. Stay in school, kids. ) Still, five low or non-paying gigs in four years kind of sucks. Like most young dancers who move to the city with no job prospects, I was too busy trying to keep my head above water to actually, well, dance. At seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, I lacked the courage I needed to succeed in such a competitive industry.
When I left NYC, everyone acted like my dance career was over. I tried to keep my chin up, swearing up and down I was working on demo reels and had plans to come down to the city to audition all the time, but in my heart, I was scared this was it. I was twenty-one and washed up. In some ways, I was right. I'm no longer waking up at 4:00 am to line up in the freezing cold on w. 46th in the hopes of being allowed to double pirouette in front of a casting director. I spend more time teaching others how to dance than taking class in overcrowded studios with 43 other people. But I'm performing all the time. More than I ever did in New York. I dance at churches and chapels and outdoor festivals, participate in community theater and constantly brainstorm ways to bring dance to new audiences.
I would still like to perform on a professional stage again, sure. It's something I miss terribly, despite the stress and struggle of audition after audition. For now, though, I'm enjoying the opportunity to do something I love for people who seem to appreciate it.