|Martin Rubenstein and Kathleen Gorham; State Library of New South Wales|
They both want to be a professional dancer one day. Both want to have their own studio, or travel around the world teaching and performing. They both want to write off makeup and hair product on their taxes and both want closets full of costumes. So what's the difference?
The difference is that the pre-professional wants it. She dreams it, breathes it, eats it. She wants it so bad that she gives up other things that aren't as important to her in favor of dance class, practicing on her own, cross-training, workshops, and anything else that will help further her dance career.
She wants it so bad that she knows she is never done learning how to dance, that each teacher, each workshop instructor, each fellow dancer, can and will have something new to teach her. She wants it so bad that she knows even the beginner dancers, the ones who have been dancing for six weeks, or a year, or even a day less than she has, will still have something new and exciting to share with her.
He wants it so bad that he keeps his mind open to every possibility. He tries a different style of dance class for cross-training or to see if he can learn something new to add to his movement vocabulary. He studies with teachers outside his style, and dances with dancers of different styles to see what else there is. He refuses to dismiss dancers or performances because they're not 'real' bellydance.
She wants it so bad that she knows the work is never over. No one is going to hand her the perfect gig, or the perfect costume, or the perfect stage lighting. She has to work with the best she's got, no matter what, and make it look like she didn't have to get ready in a broom closet with a broken light and six other dancers. She knows that if she wants a slot in the show she has to be nice to people, and help them out when they need it, or even help them out when she doesn't need anything from them. She knows that she has to act like a professional, even if she isn't yet, because she's always training for the job she wants.
A pre-professional dancer will become a professional dancer. One day, after a lot of hard work, money, classes, and Tiger Balm, she'll get her first paying gig, or she'll receive the keys to her new studio. She will smile to herself, maybe share a toast with her dance sisters or lover or family, then get back to work.
The wannabe-professional dancer will keep fantasizing about that day, and wonder why no one's given it to her yet.