As a backup dancer for artists as diverse as Beyonce and Elvis Costello, a performer in Cirque de Solei and a high-kicker in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Trisha Kelly knows a bit about adapting in the dance world. Listed under "Special Skills," her resume highlights the traditional: Pointe, Jazz, Ballroom and Tap. But also lists swimming, roller skating and jump roping. Hey, you knew know when your mad double-dutch moves are going to get you an audition. "It is essential to be versatile in as many genres of dance and activities as possible," says Kelly. "Your ability to work expands, giving you more choices and more opportunities. This makes you much more valuable and in demand over a dancer with limited skills."
Although she's probably strongest in contemporary dance, Kelly loves the freedom of expression in hip hop and the elegance of ballroom. The time and commitment it takes to master so many dance forms is an easy tradeoff, says Kelly. "Because dance brings so much joy to life." But the lack of balance and consistency in a dancer's life, well, those sacrifices cut a little deeper. "Finances, relationships and emotions suffer," she says. "It's common to feel anxiety when you are working gig to gig—and a lot of the time that's the only choice available. I wish it were easier to find consistent jobs in this profession and I wish all my friends weren't so spread across the globe. But that's what happens when dancers move around constantly following the job or tour."
The only thing worse than chasing the job, is auditioning for it. "Who likes being in a room of other competitors and being judged? Not me," says Kelly. But having been through the process so many times, she's acquired a nerve-allaying trick: "When I'm super anxious I tell myself, 'I don't need this job. They need me.' I shift the focus. So instead of giving the judges all the power, I feel empowered and I my nerves calm down immediately."