Briana Stuart: “I dance to keep the joy of moving alive”
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Briana Stuart: You may know her as a choreographer, a dancer, or a teacher. Across these different roles, she makes movement accessible and relevant to anyone. This passion drove her to Belgium, where she is on a mission to give, take and let people around her keep the joy of dancing alive!
Where did your passion for dancing come from?
I’ve loved dancing from a very young age. It just always made sense to me so I continued cultivating this passion throughout the years.
Even though I trained throughout my childhood, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue dance as a career. So when I applied to the University of Michigan, I actually applied to their business school which is a highly competitive program, and I listed the School of Music, Theater and Dance as my second choice.
Life sometimes has its’ own plan as I did not get into the business school but, I ended up in the dance program. After the first week class and dancing 8 hours a day I fell even deeper into the art form and just knew this career path was for me! So I decided to continue with my passion as a career.
What led you from the University of Michigan to Belgium?
Typically dancers move to New York City directly after graduation but I wanted to explore my field and see things from a slightly different angle. So instead, I moved to Washington DC for an internship in Arts Administration then transitioned into a full-time position as a professional dancer. After two seasons with the company, I resigned and sold everything I had to take a 6 month trip around Europe and Asia. I was curious to learn about dance and the way people lived around the world and I took tons of dance classes along the way while gaining new skills and experiences in movement. I also gained a greater appreciation for art and people around the world.
During my trip, I discovered Belgium and saw great opportunity and potential here. For some reason, I kept traveling back to Belgium for the people and various art events. I ended up staying!
What do you do as a job today in Belgium?
My work is focused on dance and movement in many different capacities: I perform with various companies and theaters, work as a choreographer, lead weekly classes and specialized dance workshops as well as other roles. People often tell me, “I wish I could dance. I always wanted to as a child” and I encourage them to just go for it because It is never too late to try! In my weekly adult dance classes titled Everyone Can Dance, I encourage adults to join us no matter their age, level or experience and have a good time.
What does that imply for you to be self-employed?
As a freelancer, sometimes you don’t know what comes next but I often have to remind myself that the unknown is good too!
On a more practical note, you need to keep up with your field: you cannot afford not to be up to date and you should also nurture your social presence. Networking is key and it’s important to be well-connected in your own field. This is how I always have new opportunities coming my way.
I would say that I need a balance in creating my own work/projects and working under someone else and diving into their work/project. It can be overwhelming to be creative and handle all the logistics such as advertising, communicating, etc.
Do you like putting your passion at the center of your profession?
You could say that it is a bit risky to pursue my passion as a career because it puts pressure on something I enjoy but… I love it so much! Throughout my life, I have been a full-time dancer, a part-time dancer, a choreographer, a teacher, an arts administrator, and other amazing hats. My creativity flows not only in my field but in everyday life as well, so I express my passion in many different ways.
To maintain my passion I keep my goal at the forefront of all the work I do, and my goal is to make my art more accessible and relevant to the world. I am here to make movement relevant to anyone, to keep the joy of moving alive.
Do you want to discover what Briana is creating? Take a look at Stu Arts Dance, happening near you in Belgium!
At Accountable, we love to help passionated self-employed professionals, like Briana, focus fully on their art, not on their paperwork. This is our way of keeping enthusiasm alive for self-employed professionals and the ones who enjoy their work!