“You are good enough to do whatever you aspire to”; Advice from a young dance professional
Following our event in collaboration with Kingston University, we had the chance to talk to Kingston graduate Kia, who is carving a path within the dance industry. As a freelance Dancer and Learner Progression Coordinator at Aimhigher London, Kia shares her advice on how she got to where she is and what it takes to make it in dance…
Describe your career journey to where you are now.
I worked for the Kingston University Careers and Employability service whilst studying my degree. I graduated this summer and interviewed for my current role. I auditioned for a dance agency who provide me different contracts of dance work, which I do on the side of my current full time role.
What did your family think of your occupation choice?
My parents didn’t give me much guidance and just wanted me to choose something that made me happy. They knew dance would be a tough industry and prepared me for the criticisms and knock-downs I may face, but ultimately supported whatever career choice I wanted to make and believed that there would be doors and opportunities awaiting for me if I opened myself to them.
What does your current role involve?
I plan and run events for school learners from widening participation backgrounds to help them to aspire and realise what path they want to take in a career. We run workshops with different Universities to get the learners on campus and exploring the idea of University but also apprenticeships and other alternative routes that may suit them. We work with KS3, KS4 and KS5 learners, I work with learners with SEND to help them prepare to progress into University comfortably.
What kinds of people do you get to interact with in the dance industry?
Within dance, I may have to work with a producer or music composers, choreographers, camera and film, lighting and stage tech crew but a lot of the time I have to work with clients who hire dancers that actually know little about dance such as managers of venues or event managers who hire dancers for an aesthetic or to help advertise/promote something.
What skills would you say are essential for someone wanting to get into dance?
For dance you need to be well organised, polite, really responsive to instructions/direction, resilient and reliable.
For my role at Aimhigher I need to be again well organised and good at managing my workload, able to priorities tasks appropriately, creative (we are always creating new workshops and games to engage young learners), using own initiative and working to deadlines.
What is some advice you’d give to those wanting to forge a career in the creative industries?
You must be confident in your own abilities and start believing that you are good enough to do whatever you aspire to do and see value in yourself. You need to learn how to get out of the habit of negative self-talk and worrying about the ‘what ifs’. Worrying about the future doesn’t help and slows down your progress, all you can do is your best every day and take tiny positive steps towards what you want even if its small goals you set yourself such as improving fitness, creating a new piece of work in your spare time, sharing work on social platforms, doing an audition, applying for a job. You have to remember that you’re probably not going to get every job or role that you go for, but if you stick with it there will be a place for you and it normally ends up being the right place at the right time. If you work hard every day, try your best and are proactive (with some down time to relax as well) then you will get there and once your foot is in the door you will meet more people in the industry that will potentially want to work with you and will open up new opportunities. Being easy to work with and reliable will get you really far!