Posted 07 November 2013 - 12:24 PM
The slowness of most careers is why the obsessiveness rings true in the context of many dancers' stories, especially the ones who weren't recognized very early, like Tallchief and Kent, or talented men like d'Amboise, who fulfilled the need for partners, too. Merrill Ashley's book sounds like a long saga of the same: always looking over her shoulder, always wondering what every glance meant, always comparing herself to Colleen Neary and Redpath when they were all soloists, always trying to read into where she stood. It was exhausting to read.
Then you have Martins and Sklute talking about always being under the microsocope, no complacency, constant judgement, not to mention the judgement of outside choreographers and stagers. In very few professions are people that much under the microscope; even in the most competitive ones is there so little room for error, at least in the minds of perfectionist doers. In most competitive profssions, there's a second chance or another firm, and especially in service industries, there's enough outside contact and relationships that employers think twice about removing a well-thought-of contact, because that indicates instability, which does not seem to be an issue with ballet companies. Also, in many businesses, the head doesn't even know who most people are, let alone make day-5o-day direct decisions about their future. And work isn't allocated on the constant basis as in a ballet company: the dancers are aware every time a cast list comes up or a rehearsal schedule goes up where they stand, not to mention yearly contract renewals.
Ballet is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.