Alexander Fadayiro is a dancer from Kingston-Upon-Thames. He has trained with Dance Direction UK, Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and Central School of Ballet. He became a student associate in 2018 for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake before joining the New Adventures Company as Lennox in Romeo and Juliet. In 2019, he joined Ballet Black as an apprentice artist. He speaks candidly about his experiences as a dancer in and out of lockdown, his hopes for the industry going forward, and his top tips for sustaining a career in dance.
In your experience, what is it like being a dancer during lockdown?
Training and dancing professionally in lockdown has been challenging, to say the least. Not training in some way or the other isn’t really an option so I have continued dancing (usually in the kitchen).
Most dancers don’t have access to the same classes and studio space required to keep up the level of stamina and strength needed for performances, which has probably been the biggest issue during the lockdown.
Aside from that, I think the lack of time on stage has hit particularly hard throughout this time as, without an end goal (training for the performance), it is extremely hard to keep consistently motivated.
How did you get into dancing?
I actually got into it because I wasn’t very active when I was younger, so it was either football or classes at my local dance studio.
In a job that is so physically demanding, is it possible to maintain a work-life balance?
It is possible, but it’s definitely something I continue to work on and develop. It’s hard to find the line between overworking and not prioritising what you know you should be doing to succeed as a dancer.
How I try to manage this is by optimising my time as much as possible. So when I’m at work, I’m really trying to push myself both physically and mentally (with improvement and development being my main goals). I do this so that when I am out of work, I can really focus on my rest and recovery as well as being a normal person.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
I would say the highlight of my career has been performing in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in my final year at college, as the film Billy Elliot definitely inspired me as a young male training to be a dancer.
How do you hope that the industry will emerge post-lockdown? Are there any changes you’d like to see implemented in the dance world?
I hope that performance-based companies and organisations come back with compassion and acceptance being at the forefront of their establishments. If this period has shown me anything, it’s that although we are trained and dedicated professionals, we are people first and foremost. We cannot be perfect and 100 per cent all the time.
I would like to see more care and support for dancers coping with mental health issues and less stigma around the issue as a whole.
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers?
I would advise them to take every opportunity available to them, even if it feels like it’s not helpful for their goals (because it will be). Focus on getting something out of every class; don’t think about being perfect. I would also remind them that they are individuals before being dancers. Most importantly, I would advise them to work smarter, not harder. Optimise work time as well as rest time (plus going out and socialising!)
What are the three things that you would tell your student self?
– You are more than just your colour as a dancer.
– You are more than good enough.
– You don’t need to be ON all the time (work smarter, not harder).