by michaela de bruce, September 28, 2014

I found so much more bias in performing arts than in science, personally and towards my peers.

But I also came out of it knowing  that one really honest but positive experience can carry you through a very long period of negativity. There were two specific tutors I have to thank for keeping me sane in my second year. One was our movement tutor Maggie B., I have her to thank for being able to fool people in to thinking I’m a dancer and capable of more than I am physically and for saying that even if others at the school thought I was foolish for staying in such a wrong environment that I was brave for doing everything asked and more. Because I did. I even had a therapist session and you know something is up when a therapist tells you you don’t need to see them. That maybe a sucky situation is worth getting through as a means to an end.

The other was Elric Hooper who did not assume he knew us and was genuine in believing a challenge was to be tested; not to cut people out of an experience but break through limitations that weren’t real. He was the only person to hear my voice, it was he who suggested I sing Glitter and Be Gay because I’d be “rather good at it.” O. M. G. If you don’t know he was enthusiastic without being heavy handed on compliments. He had a particular nod and hmm that would tell you you did well, and you respected his opinion because he thought about it from all angles and from years of experience.


So yes, I am in that same mold. Enthusiastic about potential, but knowing it will take work to realise it. In some people it is got to faster than in others, and sometimes it is the teacher who needs to say “I can’t help you, but someone else can. I want you to succeed.” I want everyone to succeed because I know how soul crushing it is to be surrounded by people telling you no.I had no family or friends to fall back on for emotional support because I was living at the other end of the country from my family. And that was only two years. I know people have more difficult for much longer.


So when people just starting out in a field I have experience in ask me what they can do to be better, I can’t answer. At least not any more than to both reach out to stretch their own expectations but also to do regular practice to get very familiar with technique. Get inspiration from a range of peers and masters of their art. Explore all their options.

I know though that when it comes to work and a career that sometimes specialisation will be preferred. Feedback on my costume portfolio was that it was too diverse. Yet in the same year I almost got a gig where it would have paid off (care and maintenance of a diverse collection.) So again, I can’t say to do one or the other. Find your strengths and build on your weaknesses. Be confident while being open to learn.

It’s not a guarantee of success as marked by others but I have found the most personally satisfying way.

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