Let’s talk about performing arts

Now I feel there is more than enough content out there giving advice on performing arts and sharing experiences, however I often get asked why I decided to change course and not perform anymore.

For anyone that may not know, I’ve performed pretty much my whole life. I started dancing when I was 4 and took up musical theatre when I was 8, I didn’t stop performing until I started at BIMM. I didn’t consciously choose to completely stop, it simply didn’t fit in my timetable and I couldn’t afford classes down in Brighton. Before transferring to BIMM, I did a foundation year at Sussex university and wanted to do a drama degree, however during that year I soon realised that degree wasn’t for me and found myself searching for a new career path.

When I was growing up all I ever wanted to do was perform and I always had that goal set in mind. I worked so unbelievably hard to get that goal, I just loved to be on stage and to be in classes learning dances, songs or plays. It was what kept me so focused in school and determined to do well. There was never a time when I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always felt I wanted more than what Lincoln could offer me. Whilst growing up, I would do a standard day at school but then everyday I would come home have 1/2 hours to practice whatever I needed to and eat before I had to be out the door again to attend a class. During my GSCEs my only day off was a Saturday and that was usually taken up by revision.

Before I start getting into why I changed my mind, I just want to make it clear that I still adore performing and have absolutely no regrets that I dedicated so much time and money (thanks Mum and Dad) to it as I would never be where I am without it. There will always be a huge part of me that wishes I still performed, I can’t listen to a song without imagining dancing to it, I can’t cook dinner without singing along to a film soundtrack (mainly Mamma Mia) and I can’t help but recite lines along to tv shows with as much conviction as possible. I’ve always said if I won the lottery I’d set up my own dance company and just spend my days choreographing piece after piece. However when I went to university and reality set in I had a change of heart.

Now deciding to completely deviate from everything I’d worked for growing up was not a decision I came to easily. I remember sitting on the beach with my friend Ash hysterically crying as I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life and felt as if everything was spiralling out of control. I’d never been in a position where I had no direction but suddenly I was and to this day I still am, every time someone asks me what I want to do with my life I list about 5 things before just admitting I have no idea. When I found out about BIMM and the events management course it felt so right as I loved going to gigs, I loved music and I was still going to be in the midst of the performing industries. I remember being so fearful to tell my family, although I knew they would be so supportive, I couldn’t help but feel like I was letting them down, we’d all worked so hard to put me in the best position to do what I want.

I think the main reason I decided to not go into performing was the pressure, I found myself constantly wanting to be better and I was obsessed with body image, I couldn’t just enjoy an achievement because there was always a way to improve. I guess it just brought out the perfectionist in me. In light of everything that’s happened over the past year I think it was fate I took a different path, I can’t imagine suffering with CFS/ME and being as busy or active as I was. I would never say never to going back and picking it up again as it really is a love of mine, and as much as I miss it there are so many elements I’m glad to be away from. It is so hard judging friendships when you’re also competing for parts and I found a lot of people I encountered in musical theatre to be so two faced, obviously not everybody was, it just seemed to be those people who got parts or marched their parents in to demand parts.

I would be so surprised if I ended up working in a different industry to the arts, I’ve been so lucky to revolve my life around them I can’t imagine anything different. If I were to go back into performing I think I’d want to mainly act, it was always something that came naturally to me and I regret not focussing on it when I was younger rather than spreading myself too thinly. Although I love dancing, I always got lumped as just a dancer which was so frustrating as I felt I was never given an opportunity to improve on singing in public, I never wanted to just be a dancer and didn’t have the choice anyway after injuring myself so much.

I have such a love affair for performing it will never vanish from my life completely, but I have little regrets deciding not to train straight from sixth form. Maybe in a few years I’ll decide to go to drama school, I have no idea what the future holds, but for now I need a break.

See you next time pals x

Author: Ells Jayne

A 21 year old suffering from CFS/ME whilst studying at university in Brighton. Follow my story as I write about living with an invisible illness whilst studying and trying to launch a career.

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