One thing is apparent after watching the various clips, dancers and their support are faced with an overwhelming amount of pressure. Not only do the dancers have it hard but the people that word in the shadows have it just as hard. As seen in “Dance Maker” and “Beyond the Steps,” production managers and technical directions are expected to make everything performance ready. They are expected to put together dances from deep within repertoires that were long since forgotten and reproduce it as if it never left the stage. People seem to forget the final product, a dance on a stage, does not happen overnight.
As said in “Dance Maker” and made obvious by competitions like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ hundreds of dancers will show up to an audition just for one space. They put their blood, sweat and tears on the floor just for a callback. The pressure to be perfect for that one audition can ruin a person’s life. All the insanity of long hours to get each phrase engraved into their minds and every solo perfect. No one sees the long rehearsals or the road trips to auditions that are thousands of miles away from home.
Some dancers like Joan Sebastian (First Position) have traveled to another country just in hopes of a prosperous career. Just as a singer moves to another city, like Memphis, Tennessee to sing a dancer will also move themselves to perhaps Salt Lake City, Utah all in desperation for a better chance to be seen by Ballet West.
In my opinion the person with the hardest job in the dance industry might actually be the choreographer. Everyone looks to them to come up with a new piece especially for some lavish event in the professional field. Without a new piece there is no production, with no production there’s no money being made, with no money being made, no money being made equals no paid dancers. Everyone just expects them to come up with something magnificent especially if they’ve become a household name. They’re constantly proving their worth just like the average dancer. No one expects Mandy Moore, Sonya Tayeh, or Travis Wall to produce a piece that’s horrendous. Each one of those choreographers has created beautiful, unique, and heart-wrenching pieces as expected of them time and time again.
The only people to rival choreographers for having the hardest job with the most pressure applied to them are the parents of a dancer. Society expects the parents to provide the best experience in life and for a dancer which can easily mean thousands of dollars spent. Rebecca’s parents in “First Position” remarked that the money they’d put into lessons, costumes, etc. could easily have been college tuition. Now not only is their pressure on her to do well as a dancer but as a parent they’re expected to produce a champion of sorts.
God forbid the parents child isn’t the ideal look for a dancer, not only will the dancer have it hard but the parents will too. There are many Michaela’s in the world, people who have something “wrong” with them and are scrutinized for it. When the Michaela’s of the world are feeling down on their luck, it becomes the parent’s job to take the pressure off their child. It becomes their job even more often than normal to show their child their worth. To remind them that they are as great as they think and no matter what to persevere.
For some the tremendous pressure applied to them helps them strive for greatness. The pressure allows them to put on the most glamorous productions. It allows them to come up with highly sought after award winning pieces. On one hand the pressure has been none to drive some people to insanity in pursuit of perfect. However on the other hand that same pressure fuels the fire to wake up everyday rain, sleet, or snow with the determination to be the best.
Broken and bruised bones, mangled body parts and flesh ripped away, back to back to back rehearsals, and overwhelming pressure on all fronts are enough to drive the average person insane and yet you can’t help but notice a dancer wouldn’t have it any other way.