Recently I read an interview with Gary Avis, a Principal Character Artist with The Royal Ballet, where he talked about his experiences as a boy doing ballet and what that has lead to. But he briefly mentioned something that really hit home for me so I wanted to share my thoughts on that topic with you all while sending out my special thanks to a special someone.
“There’s an impact on your personal life, too – but not for the dancer himself. Whoever partners with a dancer has to be a saint. Ballet takes a lot out of you and the hours are crazy. Dancers are committed to this life 110 per cent and so your partner has to be too. There is no other way.”- Gary Avis
Mr Avis was talking about the men and women who are not dancers themselves but choose to enter the world of dance when in a relationship with a dancer, and that is what I wanted to write about today.
❝Dancers are lucky that their jobs are a big love in their lives❞
The partners of dancers. Our better halves. The ones we come home to after a day in the ‘office’ and they will listen to our absurd ballet world problems, trying to understand what we have been doing all day while learning more about the arts than they ever thought they would.
When I first met my husband he had never seen a ballet in his life and now he has not only been in the theatre far too many times to count but he understands so much about my work and what it involves. For him to have a peek inside the arts, an environment that is in some ways so different to what he encounters each day has been really interesting and enjoyable. So I think bringing someone into the dance bubble can be a lovely thing and especially introducing them to the people and friends that fill it. I for one am so glad I can share that with him.
But it is not always that simple. Nothing ever is.
Dancers are lucky that their jobs are a big love in their lives but this can make it a difficult balancing act between the one you love and the work you love. The dedication that dancers give to their job can be extreme. The hours and energy put into it can take a lot from a person – time and energy they can’t give to their relationship. Therefore, our ‘right hand’ person has to be so understanding and patient. I am not saying dancers are more dedicated to our jobs than other professionals but just from my experiences alone, dance has asked a lot of my husband and me over the last nine years.
❝I want to thank him for being patient and dedicated enough to make it work❞
We have had to deal with years of long-distance, resulting in early Monday morning and late Friday evening travelling to achieve only one or even half-day weekends. My job causing me to work late nights, weekends, holidays, birthdays, family occasions and all those other times you should be at home or with family. Not to mention having to wait all year to get a summer holiday together due to the theatre timetable. There is a long list of times we have wanted my job to be different, times when we would really appreciate a simple weekend together, something that you would think is not too much to ask for but seems an impossible achievement for us.
Now, we know it is not just my job that has put distance between us but also the importance of my husband’s career has an input into the situation we are in (as it should). However, having the job I have, with the unusual timetables and demands that come with it, puts that extra strain on it all. We have both had to make hard decisions and at times of difficulty, when this lifestyle becomes a little too much we have really had to remind ourselves, and each other, to not give up.
I am sure other couples like us find their own problems and difficulties when it comes to dating a dancer; and actually, a lot of dancers I know are in long-distance relationships, whether they are with dancers or non-dancers, so I am not alone in this unusual situation. And in fact, I am happy to say now that my situation has changed drastically since I made a move for my job, and it is truly for the better.
What my husband and I have been able to do throughout the majority of the time we have known each other is pretty amazing. And he is the main reason I wanted to write this post. I want to thank him for being patient and dedicated enough to make it work.
Dance can take us away from a lot of things, it is not only our job but our passion, and for these people who choose us and let us have it all, at the price of not living together as a married couple, or whatever other odd situation they find themselves in due to dating, loving or marrying a dancer is very admirable. So don’t forget that dancers. And don’t forget to thank them for still being there when you get home from the ‘office’, complaining about something they can only pretend to understand. Stop complaining and bask in how lucky you are to have it all.