What makes a dancer into a professional?
Updated: Sep 21
When I performed with the chant E Laka E and danced Hula to Aloha No O Waitapu at a local “open stage” event at the Stockholm Ballet Academy, it struck me how far I have come in learning how to perform solo.
Just like with practicing, we also need to practice the art of performing which has to do with nerves, presence, lighting, choice of music, preparation and wearing appropriate attire (according to Hawaiian protocol when it comes to Hula and Duncan for Duncan style).
The mandatory butterflies in my stomach were there but not more than I could handle, so that was an improvement. When it comes to how the light should be set on stage, this is something I have to become more aware of. The actual performance went fairly well (first time I chanted on stage and solo too!) with no mishaps but for the need to adjust an arm-motion in the moment, but that is also how we become professional, according to my opinion.
It reminds me of how incredibly much space there is in a song; where you in the midst of it all still become present enough to steer your thoughts, hold the right count, remember the choreography, smile at the audience, listen to the music, be 100% aware of all your motions and still get back on track if you do miss a detail, like bending your knees more, or perfecting an angle. Then it is also of course a matter of presenting a specific emotion or expression of Aloha, alongside with the dance, based on finding and being in the right energy.
In Hula one should wear certain type of dresses (specific patterns, fabrics, cuts etc matter), tops, skirts, hair-do’s, flower-leis, make-up appropriate with the venue, type of music, chosen song and its content, besides the smile. In Hawaii most Hula-dancers get sponsors to help out with the expenses, which unfortunately isn’t so common in Sweden, where just one Lily for my hair cost 10 USD. Nevertheless, I tried my best with what I have right now and also becoming more inspired to practice more songs and continue to work on my own choreographies as well.
I told one of the other students today of the fact that 25 years ago, I wished to be one who danced professionally at this very same school for a career in Ballet, but even if my life took another path with only attending their night-classes for a while in the 90's, I am grateful, happy and proud that I danced there anyhow and can perform professionally.