As a dancer you will find, that people have expectations and prejudgements of you. Dancers are stereotyped to be and act a certain way, and honestly, that’s OKAY! We don’t mind (most of the time)! Because yes, more often than not, we do play up to the stereotype (as we have already established, we love being stagey), but sometimes, JUST sometimes – we know, EXACTLY what is going to come out of the mouth of the non-dancers we socialise with. And it just gets a little bit boring! We are normal human beings too!
Here are a few stereotypical things that a dancer may hear from time to time, just setting our teeth on edge. Most of the time we will laugh nonchalantly and answer these aggravating statements with a well rehearsed reply – keeping our sarcastic responses to ourselves!
The following are the kind of questions you expect to hear when in a conversation with someone new, and they first discover you are a dancer:
“What type of dance do you do?”
Snooze. Most of us have trained across all the core dance techniques so, rather than boring them by listing them each individually we normally say ‘Oh you know, a bit of everything!’ to which, for some unknown reason, they will often reply with… ‘Salsa?’ – What?! No, everything EXCEPT salsa. I blame Strictly for everyone’s obsession with salsa.
“What things have you been in?”
Well now you just feel devalued – especially if you’re in your first or second year of graduation. Anything you say won’t be good enough unless they’ve heard of it (meaning a West End credit of some kind) – so instead you have to try and mumble some reply about how difficult the industry is. THESE PEOPLE JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND.
“What are you doing at the moment?”
The chances are, if you have the time to find yourself in this type of conversation anyway, the answer to this is most probably waitressing or promo. Again, the lack of understanding about dance contracts poses a problem and feel the need to justify yourself.
“I used to dance too…”
‘..did you? Oh yes, GCSE dance is so similar to my life right now so thanks for trivialising my career choice’
Other things you may hear in day to day life:
“Do the splits!!”
Um… Do I LOOK like a performing monkey? You’re an accountant, do I demand you whip your calculator out and show me your multiplication skills? No. I do not.
“I bet you have great abs!”
Dancing is more about the inner core muscles, you want to scream. But you don’t, you just titter and smile knowingly, giving the impression that you do. And silently pray that they wont ever find out.
(Girls) “Can you stand on your toes?”
Here’s where you have to totally change their world and explain the badly kept secret of ‘the block’ and reveal that it is actually, a magic shoe and ballet dancers aren’t just on their tippy toes on the bare floor – but at the same time you have to clarify that is it excruciatingly painful and not for the faint hearted (before they go thinking any old person could do it).
“You don’t eat like a dancer…”
You pause, giving them the look of death, as your second Krispy Kreme reaches your lips. Give me a break, you think, I eat well Monday through Thursday, the weekends are for stuffing my face with as much as possible. Now back off and let me order my French fries.
(When you’re in a club) “You don’t LOOK like a dancer…”
Jheeeez, give us a break – sometimes we don’t WANT to be on performance mode all the time. It’s a Friday night and I am sure as hell going to wave my hands in the air, like I just don’t care, if I want to!
If you want to read more – click here for Part 2!