This is such a funny question to me and I absolutely love answering it. I sometimes wonder, just for fun, how other people in different fields would answer this question. When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a regional manager for a large corporation, a chef, a video game designer, or a construction worker?
The answers would be wildly different not just from each other, for obvious reasons, but even from one another within the same field. The same is true for dancers, which goes back to why I love this question. I never had a moment where I “knew” I wanted to be a professional dancer. I did, however, have a moment where I fell in love with dance in a way I hadn’t before.
As a senior in high school, I had the opportunity to take a master dance class from a guest artist who would later become my future professor in college. I still remember the class to this day. Though I didn’t know it at the time, now I can verify that it was a release-based modern class. I remember struggling to keep up, being challenged in a way I hadn’t before, it was exciting and frustrating, and it was only an hour and a half. I wanted more. At that moment, I knew I wanted to pursue dance, whether it was simply as a hobby or an interest, I didn’t know or care. It was a fascination that I had to know more about.
Fast forward to the end of the school year, like many of my peers, I had been applying to colleges because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do, except that I already knew where I wanted to attend. Not because I knew what I wanted to major in, simply because I wanted to learn how to dance just like the guest artist that one day. I never knew it would become a career. Luckily, my dance teachers in high school recommended me giving a dance major a shot. I had nothing to lose since students switch their majors all of the time, and most of the freshman credits can be applied to any major. In many ways, I think of this as the prologue to my dance story.
After that, it really wasn’t until about half way through college, near the end of my sophomore year, where I had a faculty meeting that really helped me realize that a professional career in dance was what I actually and truly was going for. So there you have it. Maybe “that” was my moment? Just kidding. What I think it was, was that I simply followed something I was passionate about. Even more than followed, I pushed for it because I wanted it. And “it” not being a professional career in dance, but just dance.
It’s gonna be okay.
Tyler Orcutt was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. He earned his BFA in Modern Dance at the University of South Florida in 2012. Currently, Tyler is in his eighth season with Repertory Dance Theatre.