Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson
I love performances. I think I love performing more than anything else. I love being on stage. I feel like that’s where I have freedom. You are being put on the spotlight. I mean, you can be in the background and someone may not see you but, you’re putting yourself on a painting. You know, you’re putting yourself on stage to be seen by a huge audience and you know that you’re a part of something. You’re a part of a production that is being presented to people that want to either escape, you know, from their day to day lives, or they want to see something beautiful. I know I’m serving people because I am giving them something. So, that’s why I like being on stage and it’s the feeling..It’s like you and lights and the costumes and, everything about it…just makes me feel great.
I’m in a union because once I was hired into the San Francisco Ballet, every dancer that’s employed has to be part of the union. I was so shocked. I did not know much about unions… when I got hired into the Company, they were like, “You have to pay this much money to become a member of the union.” I was like, “What? Really?” You know, I guess I wasn’t that aware, [but] I understood it after it was explained to me. I’m one to ask questions so…What they told me right from the start was pretty much the union protects us and protects our rights and all those things so, that was good to hear; I was fine with it. Essentially because I was part of the negotiating committee for the union, because they were renegotiating our contract and I was just an apprentice and I was like, “Yeah! I’ll be a part of that” and, I learned quickly.
I have friends that are dancers, in companies that aren’t a part of the union and those dancers have to go through a lot of hell with their bodies, so, I’m completely grateful. I think with our union they created a contract with a lot of…I mean, a lot of ballet companies have A.G.M.A. but I guess for us, our contracts were really negotiated well. The San Francisco Ballet Company is a well known company so they have more financial ability to negotiate with the dancers but we have things in our contract that limits how many hours we can work. Like, if we override those hours we get paid extra. We get breaks every hour. There’s a whole list of benefits that we get and (physical) therapy and things that will keep our bodies intact. That’s the most important thing for me. I just see it as a huge benefit because our bodies are taken care of, which insures us for a longer dance career. We’re putting our bodies at risk and our bodies are our career.