Until recently, I saw dance as a luxury, a passion, an indulgence, a pasttime, and, sometimes, an annoyance.  I took a look at the choreographers who I feel are successful, and realized that they treat dance as their profession.  Regardless of their "jobs", dance is their work.

Even though football is a game, society places value on the work that goes into playing that game well.  Hence, there are men who get paid millions of dollars to sit on the bench, and trillions of dollars to throw a football into the endzone.  Trillions of dollars to play a game.

Part of the work, and the frustration, in dance is convincing society that what we do is not a luxury, a passion, an indulgence, a pasttime or, sometimes, an annoyance.  That work includes writing grants, raising money, managing personnel, and forging professional relationships.  That's a full-time job in and of itself, but the other part of the job is steeped in the creative process: a consuming, wonderful, convoluted, infuriating beast that is arguably more work than all the other stuff.

I recognize that there probably won't come the day that dancers don't have to wait tables, or become secretaries and pilates instructors.  But take a moment and imagine a world in which our work IS OUR WORK.

The day that I started treating dance like a job was the day that things started to happen.  A great mentor of mine told me that I was standing on the edge of a cliff, waiting for someone to give me a net to jump into.  But sometimes you have to jump and build the net while you are on the way down.

I jumped.

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter for NPR affiliate station WGLT and freelance arts and culture critic, primarily reviewing dance for the Chicago Tribune. Lauren enjoys cooking, cycling and attempting to grow things in her backyard. She lives in central Illinois.