Whether it be said in jest, or not, we as performers have heard the lot!
1. There’s no actual pay, but the exposure will be great!
Look. Every performer starts off willing to accept most job opportunities just to get their name out there. But that doesn’t suddenly make it okay to not pay somebody who’s effectively providing a service at your event. Would you leave your hairdressers without paying? Absolutely not! So why treat us any differently?
2. So what’s your real job?
Performers have a real job; it’s called PERFORMING. Being a part of the arts is as real a job as going to work at the bank or any other 9-5 out there. Some performers are lucky enough to make a living out of their passion, and others may have separate careers; however, it’s a personal choice and should remain that way.
3. Can’t you just skip rehearsal this one time?
Asking a performer to miss rehearsal to attend a social event is disrespectful and insensitive. Rehearsal time is serious work and should be regarded as such by all. Imagine telling your boss that you can’t come in that day because your friends are complaining that they haven’t seen you in a while. Our boss is the director. And nobody says that to a director.
4. Oh, you’re a performer? Do something for me performance-related right now.
Oh, you mean without warming up and not in a performance space? Sure I’ll just whip out my ever-ready act.
5. It must be so easy to have a job that you love and never have to take work home.
As much as we love dancing, singing, and acting, we might not necessarily enjoy every second of rehearsal. We feel frustrated, impatient, nervous, and an array of other unpleasant emotions. That’s just a part of the process. An incorrect assumption, however, is that we don’t come home and rehearse during every free moment. That, we definitely do.
6. Wow, you sure do eat a lot for a dancer! Don’t you all have eating disorders?
Carbohydrates for life! After ten hour rehearsals who wants a salad? Our bodies demand a lot from us simply because we demand a lot from them, constantly. And that means a high-calorie intake before show runs.
7. My niece, who’s six years old, can do exactly what you’ve spent years training to do…I guess that she’s a natural!
It’s all fun and games until a video of said niece is shown to you, and suddenly you have to cough up some sort of compliment about how they are truly gifted. I beg of you, please, don’t put us on the spot, I cannot compare a child to dancers with 10+ years of experience.
8. Dance isn’t an actual sport.
This normally comes from other athletes who don’t realise that we spend as much time training on our strength, agility, and technique as they do. If anything, sport is a performance.
9. Can I get in for free at your performance?
Complimentary tickets do not go to people who are only willing to support artists if they can do so, for free. Pay to see your friend's hard work; it’ll mean a whole lot more to them to know that you actually wanted to be there, rather than just got in for free.
10. Can you teach me a few moves?
This question always throws me because I have no idea what it means. A few moves for what? In what? To do with what? There are multiple styles of dancing, all varying degrees of complexity and moods. Without knowing whether you wish to use this piece in a club or at a work function, it’s awfully hard to help out!
If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, it’s okay! As performers, we’ve gotten used to hearing them. But the next time you’re tempted to ask us something, just ask yourself, “would I feel comfortable saying this to any of my other service providers or working friends?”; if the answer is a resounding NO then maybe don’t ask it.