Hello! My name is Jon-Mykul. I have been dancing since 2014 and still going.I’m currently doing my third year of training with “Operation Triple Threat: Sing, Dance, Act!” (OTT), and I am also preparing for auditions for conservatory programs in Musical Theatre, to become a Musical Theatre performer.
It was never my forte, but dance has taught me about perseverance. No matter how difficult the step was, or how exhausted I got, there was always a way to improve and do more. Every failure was stepping stone. When it did all come together, I felt empowered that I could do anything with enough practice. That’s an attitude I carried into all things I do now.
Barbados Dance Project has shown me this and more. Even when the exercises got difficult and I didn’t meet the standard, I kept trying and I wanted to keep trying. Looking back, I would love to do it all over again. BDP helped to make the impossible feel less impossible, and I might even say, doable! Eventually I want to call dance one of my fortes, thanks to BDP.
My hope is that the arts get more support. Barbados always had a good amount of people who have potential, but we don’t do our best for those that want to do it professionally. Many young people want to leave this country, because everything looks so grim. Schools are pushing STEM courses and shutting down creative outlets for students. As someone who did sciences in school, not having performing arts available as a subject is not a wise move. The arts teach discipline, time management, improves self confidence, and can enrich your life. All of which are essential.
So to people who believe that there isn’t much work involved in the arts,
Newsflash, there’s ‘nuff’ work. We train for hours and hours. See those live shows you all like to watch by Louise Woodvine, BDP, Praise Academy, OTT, other performance groups, and performances at NIFCA, all of that takes dedication. We are rehearsing those pieces probably 2-5 days a week for weeks on end. That excludes any physical conditioning or general class we take to get ourselves ready. And the really professional performers actively practice even when they aren’t in rehearsal.
Point is, like any professional, we aren’t just liming. We take our craft seriously. Please support that. Support us by coming to our shows, giving money to the sponsor sheets. If they are reading a book on performing, or they are practicing, or they say they want to be a performer, encourage them to do it. We as a community need to start supporting each other instead of crying each other down.
Speaking of support, there needs to be a union for artists. A functional one. Overseas countries have unions for artists, other professions in Barbados have unions for them, why not one for the arts? One that can support us when we do not get paid for paid work, one that guarantees we get paid for productions that are union sanctioned. We are underpaid or not often paid for we do in Barbados in 2016. You can’t walk into a restaurant, eat their food, tell the waiter “I’ll pay you sometime.” and then walk out.
Now I’m not saying that every employer does this. But if you are one of those employers or know someone that is, just know that you are playing with people’s lives and income. Create outlets and opportunities that can pay artists.
To the people that don’t use their craft, thinking are only for people who ‘have talent’ or ‘from overseas’, and that they ‘can’t do that’,
I don’t understand why this is a sentiment, especially teens and young adults. I wish the youth would use their creative energies more and not be ashamed to do so. Performing Arts are for everyone, and Barbados is filled with so much talented people! If you want to be an great athlete, you have to train. If you want to be a great doctor, you have to learn. If you want to be a great something, you have to actively learn and be motivated. No one is born a great something. They grow into it.
On the other hand, don’t settle for ‘just enough’. People will take you seriously if you take yourself seriously. Famous performers take themselves seriously, you should too. Learn about international techniques and standards for practice. Watch interviews, go to workshops, be active in your growth. Expand your mind. Let’s raise the standards and stand out.
If you do performing arts for a hobby and have other career goals, fair enough. Nothing wrong with that, be you. But if you have a dream to have a professional career in the arts, even just a little bit, then don’t be afraid to say, “I’m going to be a dancer/singer/performer!” and start preparing like anyone else for their career field. And this isn’t just for the arts. This is for whatever you plan to do in life. Enjoy your work and strive for excellence.
If you are already doing this, you are amazing and I hope you keep growing.
All said and done, I love my island. I want nothing but the best for the Barbadian society moving forward. My hope is that Barbados’ 50th anniversary is used for celebration and critical reflection. Right now, the country is plagued with fundamental problems, not just concerning performing arts. We can celebrate our growth, but we need think about ways to make a better Barbados for the youth of today to inherit and actually want. And not just think to do better, DO BETTER.
Thank you Jamal for highlighting me, and I wish Bim, and all the other Bajans here and away, all the best for the big 50. Here’s to another 50 years.