2) How old are you?
3) What is your job title?
Professional Dancer (in training)
4) How has the transition been from backpack to briefcase (college to adulthood)?
It’s been rough for sure. There are a lot of things such as finances and money-management, decision-making, and networking that are not taught in college. Despite that fact, I’ve loved life after college. I feel free to choose my path. College felt like a cage for me. Perhaps I would’ve felt differently had I gone to an arts school or if I hadn’t gotten tunnel-vision with Biochemistry, but I didn’t know what I truly wanted until my junior year, and that’s okay.
5) When you were in school, did you imagine your life the way that it is?
That depends on the time-frame. For over half of my college career, I was sold on this idea that I’d be a researcher during the day, and simply dance in the evenings and on weekends. About halfway through my junior year, I experienced what I like to refer to as a mid-college crisis. I did a complete 180 and decided I had to go for the professional dance career. Since then it’s been difficult to envision the exact path I’d walk, but I have a clear picture of my end goal.
6) What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced during these transitional years?
All the backlash I received from well-intentioned people. Going from something practical like a biochemistry degree to something completely different like dance had a lot of people questioning my choices, both directly and indirectly. The hardest resistance that I faced was from people that were very close to me. There were many times I had to believe in myself more than anyone else.
7) What is the best advice you have received from a mentor about adulthood and/or careers?
The most successful people have simply failed more times than everyone else. This was a very difficult lesson for me to internalize having grown up to chase perfection. I’ve grown to accept mistakes as part of the process. Without mistakes, there is no real growth. If you figure out the wrong way to do something, you’ll be able to figure out the right way and correct yourself.
8) What advice would you give a young professional?
Know without any doubt that you are on a career path you love. Ultimately, you will be the one spending time on that path, and your time is your most valuable possession. Once spent, you can’t get it back. Don’t spend it building someone else’s dream, and don’t wait for a near-death experience to realize that.
9) What is next for you and the next 12 months? Do you have any goals you would like to accomplish? How are you going to accomplish them?
By next January, I plan to be living in Los Angeles. If you’re going to do dance industry work, you need to be in LA or New York. I’m have some loose ends I want to tie up before head down there—fixing my cash flow mainly. In the meantime, I am focusing mainly on fitness and marketing this year. I need to get my body prepped for Hollywood. I’ve been working with several personal trainers to help boost my strength, flexibility, and overall athleticism. I want to be able to drop into the splits, and handle a lot of acrobatics. I’ve also been taking a lot of foundational dance classes like ballet and popping. On the marketing end, I’ve been researching social media marketing and working to boost my online visibility. When you work in the arts, marketing is half the battle.tian xiao cheng de bo ke
10) What makes you special?
I’m insanely stubborn. I push forward regardless of obstacles, even if that means taking a different path to my goals than originally planned. I’m constantly learning something new. I embrace uniqueness over conformity. I look for ways every situation can be a win-win for everyone involved, rather than a competition.
To follow Ijay’s journey, please visit his instagram!