I work for a major investment bank in NYC but what I really want to do is dance. I know it might sound silly, but in college I was on the dance team and I loved it (AND i was pretty good!). I also use a style of dance that is very unique to my Indian culture. I’d like to find out about becoming a backup dancer. Am I crazy?
Coo coo in Connecticut
Dear Coo coo,
You might be crazy… but that has nothing to do with your desire to be a dancer. Why would it be crazy to want such a career? Especially since you seem to be good at it! Who (or what) is sending you the message that you can’t have the career you want? My first thought to you, if you truly have the talent and desire for dance: How dare you not do it! How dare you go through life not sharing your joy and talent. How dare you not follow your passion. Life is short. What are you waiting for? The truth is, there ARE people who dance for their career – so we know that the career path does exist. That is a good start. We know that you are good at it – so that only helps your case. So with those facts stated, where do we go from here?
Are you still friendly with the people you used to dance with in college? Are any of them still involved in dance? Are you doing anything related to dance now? Are you taking dance classes? Connected to the dance scene in NYC? Have you ever met someone who does backup dancing? Your best bet would be to get yourself involved in the world of dance in any way you can – on weekends and in the evening – after your workday is done (i.e. don’t quit your day job just yet). I also suggest you make it your mission to meet someone who is a backup dancer and grill them with questions about the lifestyle of a dancer so you can learn everything there is to know about the profession from someone who is already in it. Also, start talking to people about this passion wherever you go (Starbucks, bars, dance class) and you will begin to meet people who are professional dancers or who know someone who is.
If you feel ready, you might go out on auditions (pick up a copy of Backstage Magazine for listings), try to secure an agent, enroll in dance school in the evenings – all while keeping your day job.
Essentially, what you want to do create a net to leap onto so that when you are ready to leave the world of finance, you already have another career waiting in the wings.
Backup dancers do exist. With talent, the right connections and dedication, there’s nothing saying you couldn’t be the next one in line for that great gig. It could be a great journey for you. You could end up dancing professionally. You could end up back where you started in finance. You could end up somewhere completely different – nobody knows where you might be in 5 years. But don’t you owe it to yourself to find out? In my opinion, you are only crazy if you don’t give it a shot!
Wishing you all the best,