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Why Do I Have to Choose?

A conversation with Isabel Wallace-Green of Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Photo by Xavier Mack

Background of Isabel Wallace-Green

Native to Houston, TX Isabel Green joined second company, Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore!, for the season of 2020-2021 after graduating from Fordham University/ The Ailey Program. She has performed works by choreographers Alvin Ailey, Ephrat Asherie, Adam Barruch, Earl Mosley, and Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish. During Isabel's time in New York, she was an ensemble member of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. After half a season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre: Encore!, Isabel was promoted to Dallas Black Dance Theatre as a main company dancer in 2021. Our paths crossed in a more social setting while we both danced for the same company at different times.

Glitz or Not so Glamour?

What becomes of great accomplishment, comes harder decisions. In a dancer's education there is ballet, jazz, modern, tap, and more. What happens when a dancer decides to do it all you may ask, we do not know just yet but, when we do, we will let you know. Dancers reach the ages of 12 or 13 and begin to hone in on one form of dance to stick with for their choice of career. Over the years it has become more and more normal for dancers with promise to decide to go to college for further education, rather than going straight into the industry and catching up on school later. Making this decision is one of two things: an eye opener or a waste of time and money. There are many ways of doing all that you want to accomplish in dance. The more traditional way is to go to your first choice for a number of years then venture out later. What happens to that interest in the meantime? When I get to the end of my education, how do I decide between the different alcoves of dance? What was the deciding factor in my decision? Is it as emotional of a decision for me? What advice would I extend to dancers making this decision?

Isabel's Point of View

Doing jazz like style of dance is something that is always in the back of my mind, I feel like being so far removed from New York hinders me from jumping in and out of that world so seamlessly. I am sure those outlets exist in Dallas but just in a different form. But my interest is ever present and I always have the thought of when I am ready to move on from where I am now, I know where I am headed.

Definitely what I learned is that what you plan out and decide is rarely what happens in your life when making decisions concerning your career. The reality of our career is that the world is constantly changing. Opportunities are forever being brought up and taken away and sometimes it is out of your control. For me, I thought I knew what I wanted to do which was being in the concert dance world, but then I got a jazz/ musical theatre opportunity that I could not pass up at the moment. I tried to remain level headed and remind myself that the companies and or organizations are not going anywhere. Being honest with directors and yourself is important because you can network during that time and the opportunities tend to be more available later on. It is all about timing and trusting the process because the opportunities seem very monumental in the moment but our careers are more flexible than we tend to believe. It is just the way it goes; you will have to make hard decisions.
The deciding factor about coming to Dallas Black Dance Theatre was knowing the different possibilities I could have a dancer artistically. Using the prior year to shape my goals, I decided that I wanted to progress artistically in a diverse repertoire environment. I recognized I had a lot of untapped potential and I knew coming to Dallas to join this company would help me explore that. The hardest part about that decision was moving past the glam and shine of what the opposing jobs offer. Performing on a stage like Radio City Music Hall seemed like the pinnacle of being a dancer in New York. The one question I had was, how would a concert company like this fulfill me even though it doesn't have the same financial benefits as musical theatre. Choosing one over the other wouldn't be wrong but my decision to come to Dallas Black is what I needed in that moment. It does not negate my love for musical theatre like dancing, it is just what I need right now.
Deciding choosing between the two was an emotional decision for me, for sure. In my experience when big opportunities come, they are not frequent but when they come, they all come at once. Some opportunities force you to make tough decisions in a small-time frame and once they are made for you are then available to process them. I considered what I gave up in order to be here and it was a hard emotional decision. Being hired to be in The Christmas Spectacular as an Ensemble member was a taste of being fully contracted. Every day I was pretty exhausted but I get to do four shows a day at the Radio City Music Hall where the lines for the shows were wrapped around the building. It really was the dream and not many people get to say they got to do that. So getting a taste of that and deciding not to return, was tricky. But, to say I had done it and experienced that world in some degree, was comforting.
I would advise any dancer in this scenario to listen to others' opinions (because they will have them) but, turn down the volume. In the end, only you know what is truly right for you and what you need in the moment.

Photographers Listed Below

Photo 1: Kent Barker

Photo 2: Isabel and Friend/Rockette Maya Addie

Photo 3: Ashkan Roayaee

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