Morsels of Wisdom on “Making it”

Have you “made it” as a dancer?


“I know for sure that there is no such thing as ‘having made it,’ past tense, and resting now on a luxurious platform of achieved success. I don’t care if you’re freelancing, choreographing, enjoying a life-long contract with cushy benefits. Whatever your vision of ‘making it’ is, the only two stages of achievement are ‘trying to make it’ and ‘making it happen,’ both present tense.”

Andrea Thompson, dancer at Hubbard Street 2 in Chicago



“The main problem with the notion of ‘making it’ is that it hinges on an external framework of approval and acceptance and depends a great deal on luck. True talent, heart, and commitment exist on their own, independent of a paycheck or the elusive and fickle attention of others.”

Kelvin Vu, dancer with Batsheva Ensemble in Tel Aviv, Israel

Kelvin Vu


“I don’t want to ever be told that I have made it. Only that I accomplished that particular solo or pas de deux. I think we arrive at certain pit stops, if you will, which may be a stop for ten years accomplishing part of your life in one company or as a certain rank of dancer but then we have to move on, somehow – you still haven’t finished making it.”

Sebastian Goffin, dancer at the Norwegian National Ballet



“Is there a way to find a formula to ‘make it’? Not one I have found. But here’s a thought: if you go out of your environment to seek – even if you’re not sure exactly what it is – the ‘what’ becomes clearer as you go.”

Wiebke Schuster, Los Angeles-based arts journalist



“The moment I think of ‘making it’ as a desire for success, I stop looking at the beauty in the mundane and start seeing the mundane in beauty.”

Elana Jacobs, Seattle-based choreographer and artistic director of Cabin Fever

Elana Jacobs making it


“Accomplishment is a moving target, but ‘making it’ is something that happens when you find yourself and your comrades and go out to make good art.”

Megan Kurashige, San Francisco-based dancer and co-founder of Sharp and Fine

The false and the true are one


“Have I ‘made it?’ Have I had a life full of dance and all of its manifestations? Absolutely! Have I contributed to communities and made dance more accessible to young people? Yes! At the end of each week, do I feel good about how I have spent my days? Yes!”

Jill Randall, Bay Area-based dancer, teacher and blogger



“I still want more. Life isn’t over.  We can talk about whether or not I ‘made it’ when I’m lying in my coffin.”

Luke Willis, former dancer at San Francisco Ballet and film student at University of Southern CA



“Making it is not an end point. It’s a pat on the back. It’s the nudge that I’m where I’m meant to be – for this moment. It’s also a reminder that the second I feel I’ve made it, ‘making it’ then shifts; it lets me know that it’s transient and ever changing in its definition. Because if all ‘making it’ is, is my deciding so – then hell yeah. I made it. I make it every damn day.”

Emily Sferra, Seattle-based dancer

Emily Sferra


“Sometimes I worry that I’m not dancing enough or not performing enough; I am not enough. Sometimes I have to say ‘no’ to a dance project I think I would enjoy because of my schedule. But working on an ambulance is not merely a means to support my dancing. Providing emergency medical care to my neighbors is a deeply fulfilling honor. When I have an incredible shift where I get to be the hero, I am as high on humanity as I am when I’m on the stage.”

Kaitlin Parks, San Francisco-based dancer and paramedic



“When you live by someone else’s standard of success you also have to live by their standard of defeat. I don’t want to think of myself in terms of such an extreme spectrum of success vs. failure anymore. I don’t think life operates so simply. The good mixes with the bad. Things unfold and reveal themselves. Laziness accompanies motivation. Breakdowns and breakthroughs often coincide. Sometimes a linear path turns circular and you end up where you started with less than you budgeted.”

Katie Gaydos, San Francisco-based dancer



“I have an exponentially growing laundry list of dance related experiments, experiences, and aspirations I’d like to have. And in the shadow of that list with the lack of security I feel, it’s hard for me to say that I’ve made. That said, I rarely think about it. I prefer to commit myself to the work and my interests.”

Shane Scopatz, dancer with Batsheva Ensemble in Tel Aviv, Israel

Shane Scopatz


“The moment the curtain closes, and you don’t know who it was, but you know you’ve just stopped and started someone’s heart and they are more alive because of what you shared… that’s when I know: I’ve made it.”

Stephanie Salts, dancer with Lustig Dance Theatre in New Jersey



“As I rapidly approach 40, I assume that I will change and that my priorities will also change. So, too, will my aesthetic, my directorial style, my pedagogical stance, my finances, my health, my body, and my creative desire. I have doubts all the time, but I am still most interested in the way dance enables me to experience and engage with the world. At any moment, I could make another choice, but, for now, this is the work that most delights and perplexes me. Incremental and surprising as it is, this dance is still being made.”

Katie Faulkner, Bay Area-based teacher and artistic director of Little Seismic Dance Company

Katie Faulkner - photo by Adam Shemper