Each month I will be talking to different dancers to look at how they deal with the everyday challenges of our industry . The dancers will be from a variety of different backgrounds in the hope that you can find a story you can relate to finding support and inspiration in your chosen field.
I will also be talking to dancers who are in the midst their training to look at the challenges they face and how they feel about going into the industry.
My first interview is with Denise Goff. I first met Denise while teaching her at Bucks New University (BNU). Denise came over from Ireland to train & completed three years at BNU, before embarking upon her professional dance career. She knew little about the training that was offered in the UK so when she came across BNU at a university fair she decided to go with them as she got a good feel from the member of staff that was representing the university that day.
It’s Saturday and I am sitting in Starbucks with my favourite flat white coffee. I haven't seen Denise in a few years so I was excited to meet up with her again. Having not trained at one of the more recognised Conservatories meant her access to agents was somewhat limited. However Denise feels she has not suffered nor has she ever felt this to be a set back as she, through determination and focus, has managed to be and is still as successful in the dance industry.
I have chosen Denise’s story because it is inspirational and demonstrates what can be achieved if you set your mind to it.
Can you tell me a bit about your training?
“I started with gymnastics when 3yrs old, my sister went to a stage school, I joined with her and absolutely loved it! I Did that for 3 years. I then trained with a lady called Leah Moran , we had guest teachers come to Ireland and this always confirmed my need to find a place in the industry.
The teachers that came to Ireland taught us a lot of different styles that were being taught in England which was very exciting! From then onwards I wanted to go to England. So at the time my Mum and Dad only let me audition for 1 place. I didn't really know about any of the recognised conservatories so my knowledge was very limited. There was no where to find this information.
I went to a careers day and saw a man from BNU who seemed full of life he had a lot of energy and charisma so I was immediately drawn to this establishment.
I auditioned for BNU and succeeded. I then trained there for 3 years. During my time there I also took part in cheerleading and gymnastics which I have found very beneficial.”
How did you find your way in to the industry?
“In my third year I started to go to London to take extra classes and kept my ears & eyes open about any casting’s or audition's that were taking place. I also started to make new connections with teachers and dancers in the industry.
I was put in contact with an agent by someone I knew. We met and went from there. I learnt a lot from being on the agency of how the industry worked.
I also started to understand what the right things to wear for auditions were by looking at others while in auditions and in class. There were a couple of online casting networks platforms with auditions on these were very popular at the time. The Hustle is a good source of information for dancers too. There is always a new surge of dancers coming into the industry, dance is constantly evolving so you need to stay on top of your game. There’s so much knowledge out there for dancers now.”
How do you stay Motivated ?
“This is a really good time to ask me. Last week my body was very tired having just finished a contract. In order for me to become motivated I need to take class. I get my inspiration from some of the fantastic teachers we have here. This is something I need from time to time if I feel like I am becoming disconnected from my goals. I find it important to do class it’s like an injection of energy, as there are always people to learn from, I would also recommend taking different styles not just the ones you feel comfortable with too. “
If you could give some advice to the industry what would it be ?
“To have more awareness about the mental aspects of dance. I have found that it is harder mentally than it is physically.”
How do you deal with rejection?
“It is different now but at the beginning, I used to worry and put myself down. Eventually by continuing to go to auditions I realised that much was out of my control, so I started to let go and grew kinder with myself.
I no longer let it affect me by looking forward to the next opportunity and I take classes. The classes I took last week has made a big impact on me although while on my way to those classes I felt I was to tired to go but so glad I did now as I felt amazing during and afterwards and it’s made all the difference.”
Have you found it hard not to compare yourself to everyone else in the industry?
“Yes I’ve found it very hard especially as a woman in the industry as there are a lot of us.
I have learnt to embrace my own uniqueness and stay true to who I am rather than trying to be someone else. I think this is good advice to give to any graduates.”
And finally what advice would you give to dancers who would like a career or who already have a career in the industry?
“As well as keeping focused on the industry make sure to keep balanced and embrace other areas of your life that bring you happiness.”
Denise’s credits include Jack & The Beanstalk Robert C.Kelly Productions, Sleeping Beauty (Belinda Murphy) Snow White (QDOS )
Dancer for West Ham , Celebrity soccer 6
‘HINGED’ Dance Co – The place
London Fashion week (Wayne Mcgregor )
Zoo Riot Hong Kong
‘The Tudors’ (BBC ), ‘Little Women’ (BBC)
‘Penny Dreadful’ (Showtime USA)
‘Happy Slapper ‘ (RTE) & the newly released’ Fantastic Beasts 2’.
Denise is looking forward to joining the cast of Jack & The Beanstalk this Christmas in Crewe ….