Starting out in the industry? Read Helen's story of her first experiences.
Helen Victoria Living Liberté Blog Writer & Performer helenvictoriadance.com
5 years ago I had just stepped out of dance college, ready to jeté into the performing industry. I had a clear vision in mind of the work I'd like to do, and how I would like to go about doing it - without a huge idea of what I was leaping into. Every day of the last few years of my training had been building to this moment, and despite my raw naivety, I was excited to start work after years and months of hours of training. Fortunately, I managed to get a show contract in Morocco days after graduating and I was whisked off into a different world. I exchanged days of commuting to college and back on the train for camels and taxi rides, and rainy scenes of Slough for sunlit mornings and desert land! Altogether it was one of the best culture shocks I could have asked for. But after stepping off the plane 7 months later with a head full of Arabic memories and a suitcase full of jasmine scented gifts for family, I realised that my next steps might not quite be so dreamy. After unpacking all the beautiful materials and trinkets I'd brought back from those hazy, colourful corridors of Moroccan souks I was left with an empty calendar and a growing feeling ofuncertainty. I rejoined the masses flowing in and out of audition rooms looking for the next big opportunity, hopefully looking to each and every casting panel for the next potential job. Soon enough my evenings became filled with training classes; mornings were equally filled with eternal scrolling through of online castings. Personally, I love the process of auditioning and training. But my bank account isn't quite such a keen fan of it. I knew I needed work to support myself while I developed my career - but what? So after speaking to some other performers after a particularly tough audition one day, I was told all about the world of promotions. I'd never really come across this kind of work, as I had bartended my way through college. But after hearing it would fit around my schedule and that I wouldn't let anyone down by not being available (the eternal issue as a self employed performer) I filled out a few online applications for some of the companies they'd mentioned. By the following Monday I was dressed in a sash and baseball cap standing in the doorway of a train station handing out samples of porridge to grateful (if slightly perplexed) commuters! So began my steady journey into the world of promotions. A side story to my main work, promotions has actually become a fun area of my life all in all. Ive had some amazing experiences, stayed in a few lovely hotels on event tours, and had my fair share of lovely samples to try. I've also gathered some pretty interesting anecdotes; anyone who works within promotions will have a ream of daft stories of the things that can only happen on a promo job! Over the last 5 years I've flown in and out of the country, as well as the length of it, with my performing work. But like a trusted old friend, promotions work has stepped in each time upon my return with an offer of support. There have been occasions I've stepped off a plane and within hours found myself in a team of brand ambassadors meeting and greeting the public as they pour into the latest shopping centre! It can be a fast track way of acclimatising, I can assure you.
This isn't to say that promotions is easy work. It's not a smile themed free ticket to a pay check - despite misconceptions from outside view on occasion. There are fiercely upheld targets to be met, the same as any other line of work. You're expected to turn up early, leave when you're told to regardless of the weather, and absolutely do your utmost to promote the event you're assigned to. It doesn't matter whether it's tipping down with the rain or if you personally dislike the brand -you still need to show up and sing the praises of whatever the product is. I feel that sifting through the pros and cons could be something we could all do for any job for any given length of time. There is one singular reason I've maintained my work in promotions, now working as a team leader and event manager in many cases - and it has nothing to do with the pay or the fancy event life. But what is it that brings me back smiling each time to each campaign? What’s at the heart of what we do? The reason, above all else, is the people. Intrinsically (if not vitally) I enjoy being around new people every time I work. I enjoy doing something that uses my skills but that has little to do with the work I mainly do. I like that I can arrive on a job and within hours I'm sharing time with a group of people I've never met before and may never meet again. I like meeting the public, and making the odd persons day with something as small as a conversation.
Where else can you arrive at work and be working alongside an aspiring singer, a student who has ambitions in politics, and a mum with four children who does reiki healing in her spare time? The job attracts all sorts, but it largely attracts people who are open with communication. And in this way I've met some of the most interesting people I've ever met. Of course, every job has is pros and it's inevitable cons. But for me, nothing replaces the opportunity of experience. I've built my life upon the belief that personal freedom can be found within kindness and creativity - I have a successfully running blog page that promotes this concept. And it's a concept I believe in whole heartedly. We all need to earn our money. Rent calls for payment, train tickets need purchasing, and so the list goes on. But just sometimes, it's rather nice to know that the money for those things can be found in a place that expands your heart, rather than just your bank account. So the next time you're handed a sample from a grinning brand ambassador as you make your way to work, just remember - some of us have been looking forward to meeting you.
Have a beautiful day now, won’t you?
Helen Victoria Living Liberté Blog Writer & Performer
Founded upon the belief that creativity combined with kindness can free us to live our best daily life, the #liberté movement was happily born in 2012. The 'Living Liberté' movement stands proudly today as a developed concept with an international following. The 'Living Liberté' blog is written by professional dancer and globally travelling circus artist Helen Victoria as she journeys forwards on her own journey of freedom. Join the journey! #liberté