Susanne Bently

Place: A.M. Sweet Tea House

Susanne Bentley left New Zealand for Europe. Brussels looked like a good option because she already knew some people there and thought of Brussels as “a good place for dance” where a lot was happening. Six years later, she still lives in Brussels and has built up her life there. It surprises her that collaborations between dancers are not as common as in New Zealand. While in New Zealand there exist a lot of collectives where every member has his own responsibility, in Belgium it is mostly one person who is in charge and asks others to join. She thinks this could be because of administrative reasons (subvention system) or because people of the Brussels dance community rather want to be known individually.

She had expected to have more work in Brussels in terms of performing in projects or within companies, but she finds herself leaving the country to perform. Her main occupation is teaching at the moment. Apart from that, she is busy with her own dance projects. Auditions do not seem to work for her. People engage her in projects because they saw her performing or because she was recommended by others. She has not been that active in the community recently, the reason being a lack of money and time. To establish yourself in the dance community, it is necessary to be visible. That means going to shows and bars and taking classes; meeting people and hanging out with them. A lack of money means therefore a lack of connecting with people. Networking is part of the professional life in Brussels. She is not good at it and thinks that might be the reason why a performance career in Brussels did not work for her. Another problem is that so much is going on in Brussels in terms of dance and performance that people are constantly competing with each other. When you are working your way up and do not have a certain standard yet, it is hard to get attention. When people do not know your name, they will not come to see your performance. She would like to be teaching less and performing more. Her ideal list of priorities in life is almost an inversion of her actual list. She used to plan ahead more before she was a dancer. Now she does not know what she will be doing after the next six months. Being able to plan ahead equals a certain status in the dance community. When you know what you will be doing during the next year, it means that you have shows and that you are doing well.

scholarship – Vienna – scouting – saving up – boyfriend – good laugh – French – floorwork – teaching – enriching experience – forced – second nature – re-establish yourself – uproot – influx – electronic music – collective – singular-minded – hobnobbing – foyer – lack of money and time – hang out – re-connect – running – regular money – mental preparation – circus – librarian – competition – bananas – sensors – inversion


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