Whew! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I have been away because I have had to deal with some emotional and mental setbacks. All because of dance, by the way. I’m not sure if it was a necessary experience, I’m just glad that it’s over. Now, the story…
It was 2018, I was stuck at a job that I thought I loved but really, I hated it. Being a ballet teacher in Lagos, away from home trying to prove to my parents that I chose the right path for myself was not the life I saw myself living. Desperately trying to make ends meet, I endured everything single shitty moment in Lagos.
There had to be an end to all of that. My life couldn’t just be about me waking up every morning teaching kids to be what I wanted to be. When I saw them improve, I craved that. Each time my student would land a pirouette or execute a perfect jeté, I would crave it for myself even more.
The longing to be professional became insatiable. The idea to look for something better, something bigger became more and more real to me.
In my free time, I would search for dance schools around the world that suited me. Ballet was definitely out of the question because I never wanted to be a ballerina and even if I did, the bitter truth was that I wouldn’t be qualified. So, grateful for my love of contemporary dance, I filtered my search to contemporary dance schools.
I found a couple and they were perfect. Some a little pricey but my parents were extremely supportive and were ready to support me financially. A scholarship was out of the question though because, like I said earlier, I wasn’t qualified. I was seeking out dance schools to be trained and only protégés got scholarships.
Out of all the schools I saw, one stood out; The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in Canada; contemporary dance focused, Martha Graham technique, everything I wanted in training.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t apply that instant because it was way past the deadline so I had to wait another year to audition. Another year of getting older. Great…
Towards the end of the year, I left Lagos because I couldn’t bear the working conditions anymore and I moved back home to Kaduna to prepare for my audition and search for other suitable dance teaching jobs.
Fast forward to 2019, I auditioned: spent a lot of money in the process. The audition fee was not something that I could easily pay. I struggled to raise it because in the end, it was supposed to be worth it. I rehearsed night and day to get myself ready.
It was a prerecorded video audition. They had laid out instructions for me to carry out. All I needed to do was execute them. I was ready. I went to an old studio where I used to dance and I asked that they help me film my audition. I ticked off everything on the list easily. I had come a long way. From someone who could score a contemporary phrase on YouTube, I was now creating phrases on my own for my audition. When I was done, I put everything together and I sent it to them on the 3rd of February.
Then the worse part came along, the waiting...
The wait was killing me. My future was being decided and all I could do was wait. It was agony. I cannot remember doing anything else but waiting in agony and hoping for a positive response. Two weeks later, I received an email from them with the subject “February 3rd Auditions”.
I probably stared at that email for 10 minutes before summoning the courage to open it. In it, the admission officer said, “Dear Ijeme, please find the your audition results attached…”
My heart beating even faster, I immediately clicked on the PDF document attached to the email. this. It read:
Dear Ijeme, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre would like to thank you for auditioning for our Professional Training Program. Unfortunately…”
My eyes became blurry, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t make it. After all my effort, I wasn’t good enough. I’d always known I wasn’t good enough and getting this feedback hurt like a knife.
I’D ALWAYS FELT I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH, BUT NOW I WAS CERTAIN…