I caught up with dance professional Stuart Barrett for a bit of career advice.
What led you to explore a career in dance?
I’d always danced, from the age of nine. I spent my year out of university teaching and dancing in Hong Kong. After finishing my degree and working in marketing, I decided it wasn’t for me and moved to London to explore my dance career and search out same-sex dancing, which I’d seen online.
Is dance something that you need to undertake training or qualifications for, or is it something you can learn on the job?
I undertook my professional exams while working at Studio LaDanza in London. The directors – Heather Gladding and Hadass Armon – specialised in same-sex dancing. I was working in the public sector while dancing at night.
I also volunteered at Kilburn Festival, which gave me experience that led me to produce the Big Dance Bus in 2010, and Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival in 2012.
How did you land your first job in the dance world?
I took part in a TV program called Strictly Dance Fever, picking up dance jobs from there. One to note was Crockford’s Casino Mayfair which had advertised for a ‘Ballroom & Latin Couple’ but didn’t specify which gender – myself and my dance partner at the time, who was male, auditioned and we got the job.
Was the reality of a career in dance like what you had expected?
It’s not been an easy journey for sure, with gaps in work and income, but I feel lucky to be involved in something I love.
What are some of the skills or attributes that you need in order to build a successful career in the dance world?
Determination, commitment, and dedication.
If someone was interested in pursuing a career in the dance world, what advice or guidance would you give them?
Work hard, and when the times are tough remember how far you’ve come and that tomorrow may bring another opportunity.