VOU dancer Ella Carling talks about how a career in the arts is just as important as any other career. Ella is one of the few students that has been chosen to study at drama school in New Zealand next year.
Being a late teen means one thing: finally having to chose what you want to do with the rest of your life. Dilemma right? Not for all, a lot of my friends knew right off the bat that they wanted to be a doctor, teacher or lawyer etc etc. Going through primary and secondary school in Fiji (Yat Sen represent!) I was always doing extra curricular activities and dodging the “what do you want to be when you grow up” questions. I was an ‘arts’ student which actually meant studying the social sciences and did not actually have anything to do with creative art much to my displeasure. So when I had finally completed my secondary level education I took a gap year and committed to being a full time dancer which has turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.
In my own opinion a gap year is something everyone should do, not only to take a well deserved break from the 14 or so years of education you just went through but also to get a taste of the real world outside the familiarity of a classroom before committing another 3 to 4 years to a degree that you may or may not want to do, or change your mind halfway through. Contrary to popular belief a gap year isn’t a year long holiday, it’s an opportunity to work, travel, and in my case, find out what it is you really want to do with your life. I’ve gained so much experience and personal growth from the work, people, travel and creativity I’ve been involved with here in VOU.
Dancing commercially and artistically has allowed me to work in and see how the tourism industry works, learn more about my culture and the culture of others, explore my creativity and push boundaries, work with amazing artists and overall learn my capabilities and the potential of the arts industry.
All this ultimately inspired and motivated me to pursue my passion of the arts and choose the arts industry as my career path.
This was no easy choice because I have never received any formal arts education from school and my learning was only of and towards the standard job paths in the general workforce. This also meant I had to look overseas for study which is how I came across Toi Whakaari, a drama School in New Zealand.
After the initial online application, I was invited to attend an applicants weekend at the school which involved an introduction to the school body and a taste of the learning there. There was also a personal interview with a panel from the school. Coming from a country with a developing arts industry to a country with a thriving one was an advantage rather than a disadvantage because of the knowledge of process and struggle that I have. My working experience was another plus over those fresh out of high school as I had an appreciation and drive to continue that work with a clear cut idea of what I needed to do so.
Before I had made up my mind about what I wanted to do I was dedicated to the idea of ‘Do what you love, and love what you do’. Dancing has taught me purpose and the value of art and artists. The arts go beyond extra curricular worth, many studies have shown the benefit of integrating art into academic learning. Not only that but if more was invested into the art sector, those who do not necessarily excel academically still have opportunity and there is so much untapped potential and talent in Fiji.