Please enjoy BalletFleming Dancer, Alex Crozier Jackson and his last 2 months dancing in Europe.
Austria Does Not Have Kangaroos
Servus from Austria! I am currently abroad working in Pinkafeld, Austria a small town one hour outside of Vienna in the province of Burgenland. I am dancing with Austria’s first contemporary dance company D.ID Dance Identity. The director is Liz King a former Stuttgart, and Royal Ballet dancer. I have been here since September working on the show “Ikarus and Newton” and am now touring Austria with the production through December. You may ask why I am here when I am already dancing with BalletFleming. You see, it was a long term goal of mine that once I was accepted into University of the Arts I wanted to graduate with a job in a country in Europe. I have always been attracted to the contemporary dance style in many European countries and wanted to try my luck out here and see if it is for me or not. It turns out that it is and I’m extremely happy with my decision to come over here. I did not get here as easily as one might think. The dance world has gotten increasingly competitive in the past four years and things that use to be easy to obtain are now much harder to get. I spent extensive time auditioning last season and got a whole bunch of “No, thank you’s”. It was not that I had done something wrong it was simply that there are so many people vying for two spots in one company that it comes down to luck of the draw now. I had almost given up on my dream of dancing somewhere in Europe after graduation when I met a woman named Judith Stroux at UArts during a Kinesiology workshop. She took a liking to me and refereed me to Liz King. After submitting videos of my work and choreography through YouTube Liz offered me a contract to join her new project. I was quite shocked and had to laugh because I had heard of people receiving contract offers after people watched their YouTube videos but I did not think that it would happen to me. So now here I am in Austria living my dream and it is exactly what I have been looking for. This is not to say, however, that I have been lying in a bed of roses the past two and a half months. Everyday has its ups and downs. I still get tired, I still get homesick, and do not always get along with everyone in the cast. What I have been searching for is an authentic look into what it is like to be a freelance dancer in a European country. I have learned a considerable amount while being overseas. Lets start with some obvious misconceptions that many people make. One, Austria is its own country. Two, Austrians speak German not Austrian. Three, as I made reference to in the beginning of my blog, Austria is not to be confused with Australia. The forth misconception and probably the most important for all dancers looking to dance on this continent is that there is no such thing as “European dance”. Every country is different. Not all of them think about dance in the same way and not all of them even have an interest in dance. Austria in particular has little interest in dance. The interest has switched to performance art and absurdist pieces. When there is dancing it is usually post-modern. There is the occasional contemporary dance piece like the show that I am involved in now but it is rare. All of this is to say that it is very important to do your research prior to dancing over here. One should specify the countries they would like to dance in and then find out whether that country’s government is giving money to fund the arts and if the cultural view on dance in that country is favorable. What has been great is that I have gotten to experience everything that Austria has to offer not just with the arts but also culturally. I have spent time experiencing life as a local and experiencing life as a tourist. I have seen places of this country that a tourist would never see. I have sat in cafes in inner city Vienna, climbed the mountains of Tyrol, and walked through the forests of Pinkafeld and I still have so much more to explore. Touring is another experience. This the first time that I have toured with a show and it has also been a great learning tool. One must adapt quickly to their new setting and figure out where they’re staying, how close is the theater from the hotel, and where is the nearest place to eat. Time management is also a very important part of the process. There are times I arrive in a new city and I have the night to settle in and start working in the morning and I have times in which I get to a new city in the morning and am taken immediately to the theater, warm up, rehearse, and perform a show that night. All that I am learning here I have taken as infallible information and will use it to gain more knowledge to teach to others so that they can make more informed decisions. The tour is almost over now and I’ve got a few weeks left. Next time I write to you all I’ll be back in the US!