At RSB we approach training holistically to ensure that our students are fully equipped to pursue a career in dance. An important part of this training is mental preparation to overcome the obstacles that may face in pursuing career opportunities in dance industry.
We invited Natasha van der Merwe to share some of her insights. Natasha is a multi-talented actress, singer and dancer with extensive experience in the South African theatre, television and dance industry. Over the last six years, Natasha has performed lead roles in various stage productions, both English and Afrikaans, including Mamma Mia, Spamalot, Sister Act, Aspoestertjie, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Woods, Aladdin Jnr, Big Bad Musical & Pop Quiz, Die van Aardes van Grootoor.
Recently, Natasha received a role in Chicago the musical and is getting ready to tour across the world for this life changing opportunity. RSB asked Natasha to give our students a talk, that both inspired our young dancers and gave them a chance to get some insight into the dance industry and ask her questions about how it all works.
RSB students: What to expect from the working environment in theatre?
Natasha: The working environment is amazing. You feel incredible going on stage and performing in front of the people. It becomes quite addictive in a good way. The cast, crew and band become like family. Touring with the same people means living with them in hotels, sharing meals together as well as spending time with them during rehearsals. It’s not always the easiest environment and there are times when everyone is under a lot of pressure. It is very important to know who you are as person and be confident when working in the environment of the theatre. Confidence and a positive attitude really helps.
RSB students: How many times did you get turned down in auditions before you got the role that you liked?
Natasha: If I was paid for every single time I went to an audition and was turned down, I’d be a millionaire (chuckles). Even now I still get turned down. If you get turned down it doesn’t mean you aren’t talented, it just means that you are not the person producers are looking for this time around. Good training in ballet really helps to stand out amongst other dancers who audition. (Particularly in musical theatre)
RSB students: How do you deal with the situation where you are really good friends with someone and they get the role that you really wanted?
Natasha: There is always a reason why you wouldn’t get a certain role. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad performer, it just means that the producers were looking for something else. It is very important to stay humble in an industry that is so full of competition. You also have to remain confident in who you are and what you can do. One can’t let these situations bring you down or destroy your friendships.
RSB students: Do you get stressed before the auditions and shows? If so, how do you deal with that anxiety?
Natasha: Some people deal with auditions better than the others. If you get really stressed out, learn how to use the correct breathing technique, it might help a lot. MOST importantly DO NOT compare yourself with others. You are all beautiful in your own unique way, each with your own qualities.
RSB students: Many dancers are very self-conscious about their bodies and weight. Did you ever feel bad about your body? If so, how did you deal with it?
Natasha: It is very important to remember that you are all beautiful and your body is great in its own way. You need to tell yourself every day that you are beautiful and you are enough, because you all are. However, it is important to eat healthily. I stick to a no dairy, no gluten, no sugar diet and it helps to keep my body in good shape. You can eat pretty much everything, but in moderation. Unfortunately going through puberty will affect your body, just keep sticking to healthy choices and you will come out of this stage of life a winner! Balance is Key.
RSB students: Can you have a regular 9 to 5 job and be a dancer on the side?
Natasha: Yes, you can. It will be difficult, but possible. It would have to be your side job or a hobby but you can definitely continue with your dancing. For example, you can do your main job during the week and some dance gigs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Thank you Natasha for giving our students such a wonderful opportunity to learn from you!