By VOU dancer Ella Carling
When you think of a profession you probably picture a smartly dressed, uniformed person in an office and not a sweaty, spandex clad person throwing themselves around day in and day out in an equally sweaty studio. But such is my profession.
Hi, my name is Ella and I am a dancer with the VOU Dance Company. Let me start off by explaining what its like to be a professional dancer in Fiji. First of all it is almost a completely new concept and VOU is part of the pioneering movement that is changing that. However, because of this relative newness, a career in dancing is not something many take seriously and also why many people do not even consider it. This puts a whole lot of pressure on those of us who have chosen this unbeaten track to pave the way for the local arts industry, set the standard as high as we possibly can and show that we artists, are serious business. This means PROFESSIONALISM.
Professionalism in dance is not quite the same as the status quo because it’s obviously a different field of work but allow me to explain how we work here at VOU. We have rules, schedules, and uniforms just as any professional environments would but we also have unique aspects such as ‘dancer time’, which means always arriving half an hour early to prepare and warm up or stretch. Dancers also are/ have to be really adaptable. Firstly, work hours and days vary a lot depending on performances and the travel involved. Secondly, we expect last minute changes and have to be able to adapt to them.
We professional dancers must also be in our best physical condition because our bodies are our tools and according to this internet search I just did, dancers have one of the highest on-the-job injury reports (which I can testify to; hello broken bones, bad knees, back injuries etc, etc) so it’s important to keep the body healthy and strong in order to continue working.
I like to think of us as happy professionals because we love what we do and maybe that’s why some people are so skeptical when we say that this is our job. But at the end of the day we’re defining what it means to be a professional dancer here in Fiji and changing the mindset towards a career in the arts by literally creating it!