Almost all of us have encountered the redundant debate of science versus arts at some point in our lives – ridiculous questions like ‘Which one is better for personal and professional growth?’ are raised when discussing the comparative value of two different fields. As it goes, Art often faces fire, with more people preferring Science. Nearly every parent wants their child to become a doctor or an engineer. People seldom see painting, writing, dancing, etc., as worthwhile jobs, let alone proper careers.
Ballet dancer and mentor Brittany O’Connor is well aware of the secondary status of the arts. She had to fight tooth and nail to overcome the doctor-versus-artist clash in her home. This is her journey of accepting her passion and celebrating it unapologetically in the face of resistance and setbacks that came her way.
Enamored with the lively art of dance since a young age, Brittany also wanted to wear the energetic and graceful shoes of a dancer. However, her driven and hardworking parents envisioned a different future for her. Her father became wheelchair-bound during his military service. Instead of wallowing in his misery, he became a mentor for physically challenged people while also emerging as a top player in wheelchair rugby. He subverted the idea that his life was over. Brittany’s mother also acted as an inspirational figure with her exceptional Wall Street career as a woman in a male-dominated world. She taught Brittany how to fight for her due place as a woman.
Given such remarkable lives, both parents had high expectations from Brittany – they wanted the best traditional career in science for their daughter. Brittany recalls their practical advice and resistance when she shared her dream of becoming a dancer: “With both parents being fighters, they also feared like any other parent for their children. I remember being told about the slim chance there was to become a dancer and how very little money was in it. I was reminded that I was so smart, I should be a doctor. But my heart was with the arts. So, as my parents taught me, I fought against them.”
Following her parents’ example, Brittany stood up for her beliefs. She trusted her passion, abilities, and work ethic – “I didn’t wake up one day and say this is what I’m going to do. I had to pave a path that wasn’t there,” states Brittany.
She started her journey at 14, discovering her love for ballet. This was the start of an extraordinary career. Due to her talent, Brittany was offered to perform and choreograph as the lead principal dancer for Andrea Bocelli’s World Tour. She was also affiliated with the prestigious ballet company Dresden SemperOper Ballet, getting a chance to work in many classical, neoclassical, and modern ballet productions.
Recognizing the aversion to following arts as a career, Brittany now mentors other aspiring dancers. She not only helps them perfect their technique but also guides them to develop confidence and faith in their talent and career. Because of her struggles, she can empathize with other artists. Her successful career shows these budding artists that there is no one definition of success. She reassures them that it is okay to follow their dreams with dedication and resilience – Brittany elaborates, “What I am promoting is to fight for yourself and fight for your life.”
You can follow Brittany on her Instagram to get a front-row seat to her dancing adventures.