Taking the Leap

Ashwini Raghupathy

(This post is for anyone considering taking up dance as a full time career, after going through a significant period of practice in a style of dance.)


One of my students wrote to me yesterday stating her confusion in choosing a path for herself after her imminent graduation from college. She is torn between taking up a regular job or choosing to dance full time.I copy my reply to her here, thinking that it could probably help one other such person who finds themselves at cross roads too.

I have met a lot of people who have worked for several years and bitterly regret not taking the leap of faith into dance. Equally so I have met people who get so carried away by the romance of the dance that they immediately drop everything and take up dance as a career, and are rudely woken up to the fact that they don’t have what it takes to take up this discipline.

So here is an extract from my e-mail, it is written conversationally, and is an extract so it may not read very well.  :

“Dear S

I’m really happy to hear that you have been practising and that you want to pursure dancing . :)

About taking it up full time- I can only tell you how I made the decision to do so.

I started learning Odissi when I was 18. I was then also dancing professionally with a contemporary dance company and earning enough to pay my college fees and save up a bit too. After I finished college- I left the dance company and I took up a job at an NGO (I used to teach dance there as a volunteer throughout my degree) and then I worked in different organizations for five years. throughout these five years I was learning Odissi on and off (I had a job where I had to travel a lot and was not around to learn systematically- also I faced the challenge of not finding good teachers)

From the age of 18 to 25 I was all over the place emotionally/mentally. I tried a million things. If I look back- I feel I was scattered all over the place. When I was 25 I started practising Odissi again. Immediately it made such a big difference in my life (I don’t just say it for publicity when I say Odissi has the power to change you from within- I mean it because I have exprienced it myself). It brought me into a focused state of being, and a lot of things changed in my life since then. The simple act of dancing Odissi has been the most spiritual experience for me.

So at the age of 25, I restarted practice while I was working simultaneously in a super fun job. But at the end of that one year of dedicated practice and seeing how it helped me- it was a very simple choice for me to make to quit my job and only do dance.
You do have the talent to pursue dance full time, and more importanly- you have the right mind set which you need to survive as a dancer. But I would suggest that you work for sometime and see.
So the best way to make the choice is when there is no choice. I would suggest that you wait for the day when it is not an either/or situation, when there is no doubt. When you know that you must only dance. Until then there are many fun jobs out there too!
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