” It is better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion”
Prima ballerina Tamara Rojo was invited to talk about her career at the Daily Dance Dialogue session of the Prix de Lausanne – Edition 2013.
She began by talking about how she started her first ballet classes during childhood. Then she described her passage by different companies between Spain and the UK, her experience as a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and her expectations as artistic director of the English National Ballet.
While talking about her career, Tamara offered valuable insights on how to choose the school and the ballet company to work for. And this has a lot to do with the personality and abilities of each individual dancer. In addition, the dancer explained that one of the advantages of being a director and also a dancer of the English National Ballet is that she will always be aware of the needs and requirements of the members of the company.
Then Tamara explained how she planned her post-performing career over the years; and how the development of a dance company can be hindered by undue political interventions, changes in government plans as well as patriotism.
“You see some companies where people joined at twenty-one and at thirty, they are leading the company. They are the principals. You see other companies where people joined at twenty-one and at forty they are still in the corps de ballet. And in the meantime, other people have come on top of them constantly. So is this a company who develops me, or is this a company who uses me?”
1) The advantage of working in a small dance company is that people have more time to learn the repertoire and have more opportunity to perform on stage. Thus the dancer gains more performing experience and the chances of promotion in a short amount of time are greater.
2) Only make the next career move when you are ready for it.
3) Know yourself well. Be aware of your skills and limitations.
4) Mirror yourself on dancers who inspire you, whom you can learn from.
5) The dancer’s job is a craft. and you need to learn your craft.
6) The people that last, are the people who work hard.
7) Be aware of what repertoire fits you; whether it is classical, contemporary, romantic or any other dance style.
8) Choose to work with ballet masters with a good reputation, as you need people who will give you the tools to progress.
9) Always question how the dancers progress within a company.
10) Be aware of the kind of exposure you want; how articulate you are and how you communicate with the external world.
11) Look for opportunities to develop yourself within the company.
12) Make sure you have choices at the end of your performing career.
13) Make sure you have a decent departure.
14) Be pragmatic, be clever, be strategic.
15) Be always ambitious.
16) Never put yourself down.
17) Do not make the call when you are injured or someone has fired you. Make the call on the opening night, when you are on the papers.
18) Never close doors behind you.
19) Use the social media to build your network.
20) You learn the most from your colleagues than anybody else.
21) Always have an inquiring mind. Ask what and how your colleagues are doing in places you might be interested in.