1. Find an employer who will work with you and flexibility in your schedule! It is essential to have someone on your side who understands the artistic condition and will not only keep up with your constantly changing hours by allowing you to split shifts or leave early to get to rehearsal, but will encourage you to keep your dream alive. That’s the boss you want.
2. Do something that doesn’t drive you insane! Lots of people were surprised when I said I adored working for Starbucks, and everybody’s confused when I say I genuinely enjoy the office. Historically I happen to love my day jobs, but remember that they never define you. Do it for the dance! Or the benefits! Or the free coffee! I definitely recommend being a barista because shifts can be short and sweet (every day or twice a week), dancer coordination comes in handy for rush hour, and the performing arts perfectly arms us for excelling in customer service. The office is quieter, but my duties still have me running around and problem solving. I get to ditch the hobo-chic look we rock for morning class, indulge my fashion disposition and dress like a Real Adult, work at my own pace, talk to people, pay dem bills, and think about my next blog post or ballet piece. It’s a good situation for me. Know yourself, do what you like, and like what you do.
3. Get your fix! To stay professionally sharp, develop relationships with local studios or academies to get daily training, teaching, and guest artist gigs. This way you get to be a hero to baby ballerinas, a big sister by virtue of working on your own technique. You get to be the mentor you needed at that age. And besides, you can only call it your day job when you’ve got other jobs to go to, just as you’re only a starving artist only if you’re still making art. Hitting the gym keeps you fit, but nothing beats taking class. You have to dance to keep dancing because if you don’t use it, you lose it. How nervous are you putting on pointe shoes after just a couple weeks’ neglect? EXACTLY. Put ‘em on. Get in class.
4. Keep moving! Even if you do get tons of time in the studio, no one should be slouching in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day. Stretch often and take walks. Be okay with being the weirdo who works standing up doing degages under his/her desk. They can’t tell when you’re in cubicles anyway! Take advantage of health and wellness schemes your company provides, such as yoga or pilates OR ZUMBA.
5. Stay inspired! Complaining about work is sooo the-lame-phase-of-your-early-twenties. Drop the pout and flaunt that positive attitude. Be thankful that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Werk your work ethic! Nurturing all your interests only enhances your artistry, so keep your eyes open and an ear to the ground.
Fill your heart, and happy dancing!
San Diego Ballet, 3rd year Independent Contractor
Author of “Date a Girl Who Dances”