A conversation with Vinson German, CTFD dancer-client and Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship recipient
By Dana Lutt
Career Transition For Dancers: What is your performance background?
Vinson German: I began my training as a scholarship student at the Dance Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey schools prior to receiving my Equity card for a dinner theater production of West Side Story. I immediately was hooked on musical theater and continued on that path, performing regionally in productions such as A Chorus Line, Dream Girls, Ragtime and the national tour of Carousel, directed by Nicholas Hytner. Somewhere in the interim, I completed a two-year acting program at the National Shakespeare Conservatory and sang opera at Lincoln Center.
VG: I always felt like I wanted more control over what I did as a dancer and I did not see myself making an entire career based on hoping someone would hire me to work on their project. Also, when my performance engagement was done, it was always back to square one; competing for a job that usually offered an all too brief contract that paid the same or less than the job I had just finished. I didn’t walk away from it because I stopped loving it. I just did not want my career to be made up of a series of lateral moves. That is when I turned to Career Transition For Dancers for guidance and spoke with Lauren Gordon about what I thought I would do next. She introduced me to a vast network of current and former dancers who wanted something similar to what I wanted: career empowerment.
Thanks to the valuable administrative skills that I had picked up at the Actors Fund Work Program, I took a job working in development for a non-profit, thinking that I was done with the arts. However, what wasn’t working for me was my attempt to silence my artistic voice and put it somewhere in the back of my mind, where it only called for more attention! I realized that I am, always was and always will be an artist. However, if I was going to remain one, I needed to feel more empowered and have as much control as possible. I had been talking about creating a theatre company for many years. This year I started building the foundation for Bridges Burned Theatre and I am about to apply for fiscal sponsorship (which I learned about by coming to a Career Transitions seminar!).
CTFD: What did you learn from the transition process and what information can you pass on to other dancers facing transition?
VG: At times, the lack of physical movement that suddenly was missing from my day was driving me crazy! However, the skill of how to put on a show easily transitioned with me to my current job and, on some level, I am learning what I need to know to move forward with my theatre company. Insofar as working in development, the discipline of showing up every day, taking direction and working independently are skills that we can take with us, wherever we go!