A few weeks after getting my rejection letter from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, I received a mail from the admissions officer. These people probably wanted to break my heart even more…
The subject line read “Keep Dancing”. Of course, that’s easy to say after you people rejected me. I opened the email and it read:
“Hi Ijeme, I am not on the audition panel, however I wanted to send you a message to say that I really appreciate the effort you have made to learn and prepare for this path you have chosen. I am very impressed by the research you did. Your training is still very basic, but you are a dancer and I hope you will keep working on this”.
Right…My training is still very basic. Well, that’s why I’m coming to you guys! Urghh!!
I needed to move on with my life so I buried every form hurt I felt from this rejection and immediately started looking for other schools.
It’s 2019, Ijay, you need to figure out what you want out of this life you chose. How do you plan on becoming a professional if you’re not even good enough to be trained?
So I resumed my search and I didn’t just find one school, I found five! Yup, five! Each one having their own unique training structure that made me fall in love. I wanted to be trained so bad that I decided to go for all five. Where the money was going to come from to audition? I wasn’t sure, but I, sure as hell, was going to try to get in. The amount of money that these dance schools tagged as ‘audition fee’ was crazy, and it was in dollars. This meant that my pitiful Nigerian Naira was going to suffer. I was already burning the little money I made on my trips to the studio getting ready for whatever audition was coming but I didn’t care. If it paid off, then good. If it didn’t, well, I just hoped it would.
For the first school, in London, I didn’t even make it past the application stage when I saw that I needed to have an undergrad degree in Dance to proceed. Lmao! No shaking, on to the next one, Ijay!
The next school was in Copenhagen. As I looked through the school’s website, I immediately liked what I saw. Definitely applying here! Filling in my details and getting ready to pay for the audition and pick a date, the site refreshed itself and a notification popped up:
“We would like to apologize in advance for any inconveniences caused but the Professional Training Program for 2019/2020 has been cancelled, see you next year…”
Lmao! These Edo village people have come again… I’ll apply again next year, if I don’t get any schools this year…
I took a deep breath and closed my laptop. I knew I needed a break, some time off, but I didn’t give myself one. I didn’t apply to other schools immediately, I just never gave myself a break from thinking about my life, my future and my path. I wanted to show that I wasn’t wasting my time. All the days, weeks, months and years of dedicating myself to this craft. Watching myself trip, fall, have muscle cramps, almost injuries; I needed to have something come out of this. Where was I going with my life?
Okay, Ijeme! Next school!
This one was in Leeds. I clicked on their website and browsed through their trained programs. Bachelors, Masters, Foundational programs…
Omo! This place is for me… I need to be here!
I had found the perfect school! It warmed my heart. I started to allow myself feel hopeful again as I continued to browse and check out their website when I suddenly clicked on ‘Fees and Funding’ and my heart sank. I couldn’t afford it. I then checked to see whether there would be some form of funding provided even though I knew that I probably wouldn’t be qualified for it. And just as I thought, there was no funding. In fact, it was clearly stated, “No funding would be provided for international students. If they are financially challenged, they should look for scholarships opportunities within their home country”.
There goes Leeds… Sigh!
Depression was starting to kick in and I wasn’t exactly loving my job. Seeing my kids receive the training I wanted got me devastated. There was no joy in what I was doing anymore. I wanted out. I needed out.
The schools that were left were in Berlin and Israel. I auditioned for both of them and got rejected almost the same time.
Am I so terrible that I can’t even secure one school to train me?
I couldn’t tell what was going on but I knew that I was tired and I was done fighting.
I called my mom and said to her, “I’m ready to go for my Master’s. I’m not pursuing dance abroad anymore. Whatever happens, happens. If I get to dance while I’m doing my master’s abroad, I will. But if not, no problem”.
My mum was excited because she had been trying to convince me to leave the country by every means necessary. I was hellbent on the fact that if I needed to leave the country, it would be dance that’d take me out where a chunk of my time would be dedicated to training because truth be told, I wasn’t getting any younger. The narrative of ‘dance on the side while you do something meaningful with your life’ wasn’t going to work if I was chasing a professional career. I didn’t want to treat it like a hobby. It was my life and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. So I caved.
I was tired. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to dance anymore. 2019 was kicking me in the gut and I was giving in. I could no longer put up a brave face online and say I would chase my dreams no matter what because I didn’t believe that anymore. I was just tired…
I didn’t feel like a dancer, I felt like some wannabe who believed she could actually be a professional dancer starting at 19. Who was I kidding? I wasn’t even good enough to be trained. I couldn’t even make it to the very first stage of training! I mean, professionals are called professionals for a reason. They dedicate years and years to their craft. When did I start? When will I start? How long would I train to be deemed a professional? It seemed like a long impossible shot. What was the point?