A series of essays by Mark Gibbs
I was recently privileged to witness an audition for one of Australia’s foremost dance companies. It was held in Amsterdam while the company was on tour.
The job on offer featured lousy pay, to the point of being a disgrace, and the role mostly required arduous hours every day of the week with less than a dozen other dancers participating in the process of making new work. (The purely physical demands in this world are extraordinary, these participants are elite athletes, no less).
The turnout of hopefuls vying for the opportunity was extraordinary. I estimated around 100 physically gorgeous young men and women crammed into a small hall to escape the biting wind outside. The attraction was an opportunity to immerse themselves into their chosen craft with the prospect of actually being paid for it. A highlight would be a few weeks of touring and performing each year, sometimes in places like Dubbo, Lismore or Toowoomba, others in Stuttgart, Saville or Rouen.
Each of the beautiful hopefuls no doubt had a story to tell. Of childhood memories of dance classes and impromptu performances in front of their doting families. Of years of study and countless hours of dedicated practice honing their skills, admiring the small details of performances captured on You Tube or sacrificing limited budgets to attend performances in local theatres.
The outcome was that not a single person was deemed good enough to be invited to join the company, a result entirely expected by the people tasked with judging the audition.
So what became of all those very fit and rather beautiful young people? Would some of them work harder on their skills for the next audition? Presumably most would go back to working in bars and restaurants because their dreams would take years to die.
Seems to me that visual artists have it easy in comparison, especially in Australia. I doubt that many visual artists would apply a fraction of the time and discipline required of a dancer, especially in their youth. The odds of ‘making it’ are probably just as low, but who’s to say what a few splodges of paint or assemblages of found objects could lead to should the stars align and lady luck smiles your way?