I’ve been thinking about all of the summer dance events that have happened this year: the usual Jacob’s Pillow, ADF, Bates, Vail, to name a few. It’s a hard thing to follow on the screen of my Galaxy because I know many dancers who just graduated, fresh BFA performance and choreography students, and they are stuck here in the heat of Texas.
Don’t get me wrong, I know a handful of dancers who have made it to these festivals and thrive in the summer days, performing and creating with even the small chance at being paid. But I know an even larger amount of college graduates who aren’t a part of these summer festivals when they should absolutely be there. They wilt in the summer heat as they research and connect and audition perpetually with little to no results. Their discouragement begins to snowball, their student loans start to kick in, and, behold, the dancer has quickly become entirely reliant on their second job which has nothing to do with the dance world.
I’ve heard some people say how easy we have it these days with our technology, connecting all of us at a lighting speed, but postgraduates also face the disconnection from the dance world with even more severity than the past generations. They can see the changes, the creations, the excitement happen right before their eyes. Everyday reminders that they did not make it to one coast or the other due to travel expenses or a kind rejection from a company; they must remain where they are and watch from afar. Online updates can easily be turned off or ignored, but then that would mean an entire detachment from the dance world! And that is the most dangerous road to go down for recent graduates.
I wish I could see more opportunities for post graduates instead of expecting these students to automatically become professionals. I’m not suggesting another few years of hand-holding. But the market is tough for students looking to become professionals in the arts. Where I live, Texas is pretty sparse in that transitional ground that could potentially help nurture and guide great artists. We have Houston, Austin, and Dallas as the main providers for major dance companies (while San Antonino and other surrounding areas keep smaller companies afloat). But again the issue these dancers face is the lack of transitional resources that will point them to their desired dance company.
A gap exists for some- but not all- college dancers who aren’t stationed in major dance hubs, and when they graduate with nerves and fears that their parents have helped fuel, they face an atmosphere which is less welcoming than it was a few years ago. Lack of funding? Lack of outreach? Lack of regional events? Whatever it is, it is a borderline epidemic for postgraduates looking to become professional dancers. The summer is the worse time for recent graduates, even for those that received their diplomas in December, because it boils and festers. The festivals continue to happen, and we are all happy that these dance events do thrive, but they are missing a key demographic to dance expansion; the student eager to become the professional.