I am getting very tired at the moment of hearing horror stories from my dancer friends about how their choreographers treat them. And now one of these choreographers is after getting a job at my favourite dance company, I wonder what is the dance world coming to? Surely nasty doesn't win.
With all the cuts I know the pressure is on for all companies to keep their funding and keep creating successful works but why should you have to treat your dancers like absolute shite. We are 'puppets' I suppose, but we are not your objects that you can make feel like total rubbish just because you are who you are. Every artist has insecure moments, every human has insecure moments. Just because you are who you are does not make you more superior and give you the golden ticket to be villainous.
I know this kind of behaviour is not just dance industry specific as loads of bosses are bullys and power hungry but with artists I feel it is a bit different. We are constantly sharing our own personal experiences through our bodies. When we enter a studio we expect to be in a safe place. A place where we can give all physically, bare all emotionally and be guided.
I know I have had a few moments where I have watched a show and not been totally satisfied with certain dancers even though I may have told them the same note over and over again. It is frustrating and sometimes you feel like yelling/hitting a wall but there is a way of giving notes that doesn't crush that person so much that they want to give up dancing.
I hope I would never let someone I worked for ever get under my skin so much that it affected me in ways I have witnessed. Don't get me wrong I am very hard on myself. I love getting notes. It is the only way to get better and of course I want to know when I am not doing it right. I don't like getting things wrong. I am an upfront person and like people to be the same with me and not tiptoe around a subject.
But how dare these choreographers call their experienced talented dancers 'Amateurs' 'Children' 'Useless'. How dare these choreographers yell at their dancers when, after keeping them in for an extra 3 hours, (with out warning and of course unpaid because their contracts state in small print that hours may vary some weeks), they didnt jump to their beacon call by reading their mind and run and get another colleague who hasn't returned back after a 15minute break yet (first break since lunch and its now 9pm). How dare these choreographers come back half way through a show yelling at how bad they are doing (they should have come back with some suggestions of how they can turn the show around?). How dare choreographers play 'psychological experiments' on their dancers without letting them know, but yet during a press conference after opening night tell everyone!!!!
And then you decide not to renew your contract or want to leave early- how dare these choreographers say "I will ruin the rest of your career if you do this to me"...... narcissistic tyrants.
Yes people these are all big choreographers, big companies.
It took me a while to decide to write this blog as I don't want to upset anyone but young dancers out there are so desperate to work they will put up with anything. I have loads more stories. DISCLAIMER: these are all stories told to me, I didnt witness any of them, just the anger/upset afterwards.
I think the choreographer, I was talking about, who has just got that job will learn so much there, as they are the most nurturing company that I know. The team is so great and I think this choreographer, if open, will learn loads and will learn how to act in highly stressful situations.
There is hope though, because lets remember there are plenty of choreographers out there who are super talented and are lovely people. They know how to treat you and will nurture you in a great way. So lets celebrate these people. These people make the actions of the others seem so unnecessary.