Today we have a guest post. Please join me in welcoming Stephanie Wolf to 4dancers. Stephanie and I met on Twitter when we were talking about a particular quote. I asked if she would expand on it a bit from her perspective, and she kindly agreed to make the time..
“Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.” – Irving Stone
At the age of 14, I knew I wanted to be a dancer. From that moment forward, my life changed forever.
Stone speaks of art as a calling, not as a choice in life. In his novel The Agony and the Ecstasy, he fictionalizes the trials and tribulations of the great sculptor and painter Michelangelo, using him as a vessel to convey this very sentiment. People possessing an artist’s soul and not simply an aptitude for art, will pour everything he or she has into it.
Passion is a beautiful thing, but be careful of its power. It can become all consuming. Driven by my own passion for dance, it was impossible to separate the professional from the personal. It was all intertwined, unclear where one ended and the other began.
For over twenty years, my dedication to ballet cost me many aspects of my life. Long rehearsals, runs of performances, and hours on the tour bus sometimes left me crabby and too tired to be social. Most often, those closest to me were also in the profession, and we could commiserate together about our aches and professional heartaches. I had many close and wonderful friends, but my romantic ventures were often tempered by my obsession with ballet.
I have zero regrets. However, that doesn’t mean I do not have remorse for the many sacrifices I made along the way. All of the high school dances and football games I missed; the number of times I turned down invitations to ‘hang out’ at the mall or movie theater; missing close friends’ weddings, baby showers, or a number of other major life events; saying good bye countless times; these were all done in the name of dance.
Looking back on my professional progression as a dancer, I can relate to the quest for artistic perfection Stone touches on. It has haunted me throughout my career and, even though I am no longer performing, it still plagues me, rearing its ugly head every time I sit down to write.
I am grateful for the many incredible experiences ballet gave me. They have shaped me into the person I am today. While that is far from perfect, I am starting to realize that people’s flaws and quirks are sometimes what make them the most interesting.
Recently, I was offered an amazing opportunity to advance my new professional endeavor, journalism. However, the position required a cross-country move. Despite my zeal to tackle new, uncharted territories, I was unable to accept the offer.
For the majority of my performing career, I had a sense of urgency when it came to professional opportunities. When I considered leaving Denver for a job, I looked beyond the immediate career advancement—I saw friends, family, the stunning Rocky Mountains, as well as a quirky city full of the things I love like yoga, skinny jeans, sunshine, and gluten-free, dairy-free fare.
As I move into a new decade of existence—the thirties is not so scary after all—I find myself re-evaluating what dedication looks like. This time, I choose family, friends, lifestyle, and familiarity over professional accolades. Does this mean I am less dedicated to my craft?
I say no. As I evolve as a writer, artist, and individual, so does my perception of dedication. Still committed to building my career, I no longer pay for this professional advancement with my life.
After following my passions all over the country, I was surprised by my inability to accept the offer. But I can now see how this balance of life, work, and play will make me a better artist.
Talent is certainly cheap; dedication is priceless…
Bio: An Atlanta, GA native, Stephanie has performed with the Minnesota Ballet, James Sewell Ballet, Ballet Montana, Ballets with a Twist, the Metropolitan Opera and Wonderbound, formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado. Expanding her artistic endeavors beyond the stage, Stephanie’s writing has been published in Dance Informa, Capezio Dance News, Confluence – Denver, New York Family, Indianapolis Star, Fox 31 Denver/KDVR.com and 303 Magazine, among others. She was also a copywriter with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Currently, she works as a freelance journalist and arts reporter in Denver, CO.