It occurred to us, here in TheLab™, while watching the dancers of Verve do their thing with the current touring material of the 2008 programme, that these particular individuals, along with all serious dance students, are extraordinary individuals in our time.
When you think about it, far too many people today are consumed with the desire to either be famous and rich via one of a dozen or so television "talent" contests, follow, in excruciating detail, the lives of those that are already famous, or acquire as many trinkets of a, so-called, "normal life" as humanly possible before it's time to retire and play golf or yell at small children for being nothing more than small children.
Choosing a life as a professional dancer in this particular sector, contemporary dance, will deliver none of the above. If you're in this slightly odd world it's not because you want to be famous, it's certainly not for the money and achieving any kind of normal goal, like owning a house for example, is the exception rather than the rule.
So why do they do it? We would guess that each dancer would give a different answer but at the root of it is probably the desire to do something unique, to take the less traveled road because the alternative is probably too frighteningly mundane to contemplate.
The dancers we know tend to be more free spirited than your average citizen. Unafraid to take off at the drop of a hat to secure the next piece of work and experience a new workshop or group of people, bereft of personal or financial security.
Of course, the lack of financial security is not something to be championed but this particular mode of life would almost certainly scare the silent majority into early retirement and the peaceful calm of their golf course.
It's a well worn cliché, probably first said by someone with a beard, that it's the journey that matters, not the final destination. How many people could say, that in their life time, they accomplished something as challenging, creative and professional as the performers of Verve or any one of the hundreds of professional dance companies, large and small, from around the world?
That young people in their late teens, perhaps one of the most derided social groups by the "village elders", would willingly choose three or four years of extremely difficult training followed by nothing more than perpetual uncertainty is something to be championed.
When you strip away all of the bureaucracy, the funding, the festivals, the eduction programmes and the politics what you have, at the very core of this profession, are some of the most laudable individuals in our society. A group of people who choose to do something not for personal financial gain or for the glory but for a gloriously unquantifiable reason.
Saints they are not, but professional dancers are commendable in our time, that much is certain!
[ Verve 08 Video Feature ]
photo by Chris Nash