Today we’re joined by Sandie. Sandie is an incredibly exciting first for Asexual Artists: she’s a professional dancer. Words cannot describe how excited I was to be contacted by a dancer (dance is one of my absolute favorite arts). Sandie has an amazing love for her art, as you’ll see from the interview. She definitely has a dancer’s soul and an incredible love for her art. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a professional dancer. I feel as though I come alive when I’m on the stage and using only movements and dance to portray stories and emotions. Dancing helps me express myself so much better than I ever can with words. I’ve trained for years in ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, commercial, pilates, as well as acting, singing, and the clarsach (Scottish harp). My main focus is jazz or contemporary dance though. I’ve done a few dance jobs since graduating last year, everything from emotional contemporary duets to ensemble and featured dancer in a pitched musical to street performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Every job I do is completely different, some last an evening, others last weeks. It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to be a dancer; but it is all worth it when I step on stage.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by lots of different things. I love to watch other dancers to see how the move and interpret the music, I have learn so much from watching others. When I choreograph I try to take inspiration from many sources; music, emotions, other art, stories. Although it may sound a bit self-centred but I do find I’m inspired by just how far I’ve come, and what I’ve been through to get to this point in my life.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to dance. I went to my first ballet class when I was about 2 ½ years old because I kept walking around on my tip toes and I haven’t stopped dancing since. I started doing more and more classes and performances as I got older but it was only when I got to high school that I realised there was nothing else I would rather do, and I could actually make a career out of dancing. I had a lot of people (teachers and family member mostly) tell me that I should focus on getting a “real job”. Instead of listening to them I spent 2 years in full time training with a semiprofessional ballet company touring ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Swan Lake’ around Scotland and China. I realised I was never going to be a ballerina so I moved to London to study dance and musical theatre. I have no idea what I would be doing if I wasn’t dancing, it’s all I know and it’s what I love.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
A lot of the time dancers don’t get much (any) say in what you perform, you get told what movements to do and how to perform them. It does mean that every dance that I get to do is completely different so every job is a new experience, and also get to bring other people’s ideas to life.
However the few times I have been able to choreograph my own dances they end up either very cute and cheesy, or strangely dark. I became slightly infamous in my time at college for creating contemporary dance solos about dark and creepy ideas. My favourite solo was a dance based on the personification of Death, it was so much fun to go to complete extremes with both movement and performance (as well as getting to scare the audience). I will always have a soft spot for Charleston-esque jazz dances though!
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Just go for it! My parents always told me “if you do a job you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” I think it’s better to try your best. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end you’ll be able to look back and say that you gave it your all and have no regrets and no ‘what ifs’. Don’t let opportunities pass you by, the worst that can happen is they say no.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve found not many people in the performance industry have even heard of asexuality, let alone know what it is. So most people just react by saying “that’s not a thing” and “how can you not want sex?!” It is difficult sometimes being an ace in such a hyper-sexualised field. Because so much of the dance industry does revolve around sex, it can be quite tedious. Quite a lot of them time the only direction you are given as a dancer is to “be sexy”, you are expected to wear skimpy and revealing outfits, so it’s not exactly the easiest environment for an ace. It was quite liberating once I had figured out that I was asexual, and that was the reason why I always found directions like that to be awkward and pointless. I tend to just ignore most of the sexualised comments and try to do my own thing; fake it until you make it. So far I’ve never met any other asexual dancers (or not any who were open to talk about it) but I hope I’ve been able to at least raise awareness of asexuality and show that we are all individual.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The idea that just because I don’t feel the need to sleep with a partner means that I don’t love/care for them. This response came from a close friend when I was confiding my feelings in her about the possibility of my asexuality. She made it sounds like I was being extremely selfish and it hurt because she was one of the first people I came out to. Also I’ve had a few people seem to think that I have a problem with people touching me in general, which is not the case. I had one person aggressively tell a guy that he should never touch me after he gave me a hug goodbye, which embarrassed both me and the poor guy; I have no problem with personal contact.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You are the only person who can define you. It is no one else’s business but yours. If right now, you feel like your orientation is different from a few months/years before, that’s okay. You are constantly changing and learning about yourself.
You and all your feelings are valid. You are not broken and you aren’t alone. You are you, and you are wonderful!
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I don’t have an official website but I do have my personal Tumblr account (I occasionally post stuff about work).
So feel free to message me on there if you have questions or anything.
Thank you, Sandie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.