An Artist's Path to success

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Five

An Artist’s path to success

An Artist's Path to success

We’ve talked at great length about the struggles in the performing arts industry – today, we talk about what performing artists can do to make their lives easier! There are solutions, and we’re here to present them.

  • Never stop assessing:

    Take time for yourself and step away from your art periodically. Ask yourself – do you feel good about your work? Do you feel fulfilled? Identify the areas that aren’t helping you progress in this field, and get rid of them!

  • Know yourself:

    Get to know your strengths and weaknesses as an artist. Leverage your strengths – build your artistic foundation on top of a solid structure. Don’t shy away from your weaknesses just because they present a challenge – there’s room for both in your life!

  • Create distinct buckets of work:

    Understand what your comfort areas and your challenges are. Respect your work and understand each opportunity for what it is. Not every job will be the most fulfilling task – but make room for this work regardless! That being said, don’t forget to polish the other side of the coin. Make sure your schedule has room for that gritty, meaningful, difficult work – this is where true growth lies, and you owe it to yourself to cultivate it! In short – understand what sells, but don’t be a sellout!

  • Know your worth:

    This is a super important note – know your worth! If you find yourself constantly in the position of breaking even or losing money on gigs, something is wrong. We can’t expect a society to value us if we ourselves can’t be confident of our own worth!

  • Pay attention to your attitude:

    We know that artists are constantly on the grind – a spontaneous work schedule combined with vulnerability and a fear of rejection can turn even the most optimistic individuals into jaded, worn-out humans. That being said, keep your chin up and channel a positive and productive attitude – when it comes to succeeding against all odds, failure is your friend.

  • Pay it forward:

    Make it easier for the next generation – the industry can only grow if we all push it forward together. Mentor, teach, and create frameworks for those struggling to enter the field. The performing arts deserve respect – and it’s up to performing artists to create that respect!

  • Collaborate and build your network:

    Alienating people in the industry is never a good idea – after all, artists are in this crazy struggle called life together! Almost everyone we spoke to mentioned the importance of community in their day to day lives as an artist. So, create a community of genuine respect and help each other out. Seek out people who are interested in your vision and your message – and vice versa!

  • Find a mentor and be a mentor!

    Building a network of supportive mentors is critical when it comes to life in the performing arts industry. A lack of encouragement can dwindle the fire in even the most voracious artists. Mentors and mentees both stand to learn quite a bit from each other, especially as a blend of skills across different generations come together. When it comes to mentoring, it’s a two-way street!

As we always say at WINGS – Inspire. Enable. Empower! Although the performing arts industry comes with its own set of unique struggles, we believe in providing artists with the tools they need – not only to succeed, but to lead the next generation into the limelight.

Have you read remaining post in this series. Click here for  Part OnePart TwoPart Three, and Part Four of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist

Achieve Balance in Success

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Four

Artists – Developing A Support System

Achieve Balance in Success

As we continue thinking about the performing arts industry, we decided to dig a little deeper. After all, there are successful artists out there who no doubt have found a way to create structure and cultivate collaboration, camaraderie, and mentorship within their network. There are artists who have succeeded against all odds – and if they can do, so can you!

We’ll note just a few remarkable examples here to highlight the success stories of artists who have faced their struggles head on!

On emotional and mental health…

  • Charlie Chaplin struggled with not one, but several issues throughout his life – such as poverty, emotional instability, and lack of familial support. Once he made his way to Hollywood, it took him quite a while to be taken seriously – but we’re glad he didn’t give up, because he is now the greatest silent-film actor to have ever lived!

On staying true to message…

  • On authenticity and keeping it real, who better to look to than Lady Gaga? This famous singer was continuously ridiculed for her style of music and sense of fashion prior to making it in the industry. She was repeatedly asked to drop her provocative, eccentric ways – however, she stuck her ground and didn’t budge. Lady Gaga knew that she had to do what felt good – her gut instincts proved to be right!

On mentorship

  • Did you know that the renowned author and poet Maya Angelou served as guidance for Oprah Winfrey throughout many crucial years of her life? It goes without saying that these are two hugely recognizable names within the industry – and although Oprah is no doubt talented, guidance from Maya Angelou must have been inspirational and humbling on many levels.
  • Musician Ray Charles provided his wisdom and guidance to the legendary Quincy Jones. He has said that it made him extremely happy to pay It forward and help someone – and in turn, Quincy Jones has mentored a number of budding young musicians himself!

These heartwarming stories are a great example of artists who have overcome all odds and made a mark in their respective fields.

Want to read more? Read the Part OnePart Two, and Part Three of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.

An artist and their expressions

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Three

An artist’s expression of self

An artist and their expressions

“The life of an artist leads to two things – one is success and the other is a beautiful failure.” – Gautam Gurnani, Jokerface Entertainment

Today we turn the conversation outwards and hear from the performers themselves! What do they have to say? Let’s find out!

On income…

“Having been on both sides of the table, as an artist and as a producer, I believe the issue is largely how the arts are placed in our society. What we believe the artists should be paid versus what an artist actually invests in themselves is severely off key.” – Shubhra Prakash, Hypokrit Theatre Company

“My favorite is when folks ask me for free services because it would be a great “promotional opportunity” for my company. This is frustrating! Of course I care about promoting my company, but I still have professional dancers to pay for their time and efforts! It’s a shame how often this is overlooked.” – Kruti Shah, Sanskruti Dance

On continued growth and learning…

“I feel simultaneously supported and lost on my journey.” – Jasmine Broads, Bollydancers
“An artist will find a way, because they have to. I have been fortunate to work with those who also have a similar hunger which is motivating and lack of resources makes us creative and gets us to find more ways to do our work. In this process we keep learning a lot.” – Shubhra Prakash, Hypokrit Theatre Company

“I wish I knew more about dance education – where was the best place to study dance, best instructors in their respective disciplines, what are the best options as a growing dancer.” – Kruti Shah, Sanskruti Dance

On regrets, sacrifices, and the grass being greener on the other side…

“When you choose a career in what is your passion, it completely changes your relationship with that passion. You have to find the little pockets of beauty in what you are doing.” – Shivani Badgi, Gurukul

“I would say I am happy where I am and hungry to get to a place.” – Gautam Gurnani, Jokerface Entertainment

On a lighter, happier note…

“I wouldn’t have it any other way! When I truly sit down to think about it – I am so thankful to wake up every day and do what I love to do! Most importantly, I have the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives. Seeing my students come to class with a big smile on is the most rewarding feeling ever!” – Kruti Shah, Sanskruti Dance

“Overall I am scared. I try to surround myself with positive people. Being an artist is difficult. But I would be depressed if I didn’t pursue it. And the only thing I have learned so far is – believe in yourself and fight your own battle.” – Gautam Gurnani, Jokerface Entertainment

Well, there you have it – the candid, expressive thoughts from performers themselves on the ups and downs of their artistic endeavors! We loved hearing from these talented individuals who are determined on pursuing their passions. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below – we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this hot topic!

Want to read more? Read the Part One and Part Two of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.

Performing Arts Day Two - Challenges in the life of a performing artist

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Two

Challenges in the life of a performing artist

So what are the things performing artists struggle with the most? Let’s find out!

  • Time management: Performing artists multitask by nature. Due to the fact that their schedules don’t follow a typical 9-5 workday and one may be juggling multiple freelance jobs, mastering time is a key part of a performing artists’ life. An artist is often an entrepreneur paving the way for themselves rather than following a predetermined path. Because of this, an artist has to think about self-promotion and marketing, teaching their craft to others, creating meaningful work, seeking out opportunities, and continued training in his/her field; while tying all of the above into income creation and a sustainable career.
  • Sustainable income: Artists following their hearts are faced with the never-ending stress of money-making and money management. Many in society are not willing to pay fair wages to an artist. Many expect an artist to work for free. Artists may have to take on work that does not necessarily align with their morals and values.
  • Respecting the competition: A catty artist is perhaps not an artist at all – after all, artists are supposed to support one another! However, increased competition, increased visibility due to social media, and limited income prospects can foster a sense of jealousy and hostility rather than mutual collaboration, respect, and support.
  • Emotional and mental health: Since the very nature of their lives is so volatile, it’s no wonder that artists need to pay attention to and prioritize their mental health. People with creative minds are perceived as being highly sensitive and tuned in to their emotions – add in the constant uncertainty and worries about career, fatigue, and burnout, and you have a recipe for depression. Artists owe it to themselves to take care of their minds and their bodies – however, as the famous saying goes – “Take your broken heart and make it into art”. The industry has a tendency to romanticize these feelings, thus creating a perpetual catch-22 with the sentiment that amazing art comes from the most emotionally charged individuals. One must always remember that art does not have to arise from the darkest of places to be poignant or authentic.
  • Staying true to message: After all is said and done, one may forget to step back and remember why he/she started working in this field to begin with! With all the ambiguity, burnout, and self-criticism, “branding” yourself becomes tricky. As the lines between social media and reality become blurred, performing artists may become jaded and confused as they pay too much attention to “what sells” versus what they believe in.
  • Not being taken seriously: Artists are smart, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people who don’t take art seriously – it’s been branded as a “fun thing for kids to do” and “something that doesn’t require real intelligence”. Yikes! While their counterparts may be pursuing fields that are socially prestigious such as medicine and law, artists may end up feeling alienated as they spend time defending themselves and their choices to family and friends. They may even start questioning their own life choices!
  • Rejection: Artists are out there, putting it on the line, every day of their lives. They’re required to be raw and authentic – and with that, comes the very real experience of failure. Any artist you know will tell you they’ve failed 1,000 times while searching for their “big break”.
  • Getting advice: There is more than a little ambiguity when it comes to one pursuing a career in the performing arts. A nontraditional career path coupled with a lack of resources and help can lead to some serious confusion! Those in the field could do with a career advisor, if you will!

What do you think? Have you ever encountered any of these challenges in your career? We’d love to hear more in the comments below.

Stay tuned to hear from people we spoke to from the performing arts industry itself!

Want to read more? Read the Part One of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.

Linda Bowden on How do I Lead

WINGS How do I Lead? Leadership Advice from Linda Bowden, NJ Regional President, PNC Bank

WINGS is proud to bring you this blog and video as part of its “How do I lead?” series that is offered to WINGS mentees.

When was the last time someone recommended that you “give yourself grace” or some similar counsel? Who offered that suggestion? What difference did it make?
Linda Bowden is Regional President at PNC, a veteran executive in the still-male-dominated banking industry, and, surprisingly she offers those words to WINGS mentees.
Linda might sound more like a close friend or family member, or teacher or social worker (both of which she has been), than a senior banker offering professional advice. Grace, after all, is an unearned gift.
To clarify, Linda does believe that young professional women have to work hard–harder, in fact–gain knowledge, and gain confidence. That’s what she did. But these habits and goals should not be pursued at the expense of self-care and doses of joy. A one-dimensional life can lead to stress and burnout, the opposite of sustainable success. So ensure grace for you.
Linda also recommends that women who aspire to lead learn to be sought-after colleagues. Listen with empathy, keep in confidence what others share in confidence, and invite their ideas. Lead with a strong sense of values.
Finally, Linda points out that future leaders must become adept at public speaking. Develop a rich vocabulary and learn to think on your feet. Given how important this one skill can be for leaders, find or make opportunities to practice public speaking.
These are not the run-of-the-mill advice that you might hear from a successful senior executive. Linda is an uncommon leader. We can all learn from her even if we cannot all be her mentees!

In an empowering interview by Bob Eng, Chairman – Board of Directors, WINGS for Growth, Linda Bowden shares her advice to all young women wanting to ascending in their careers!  WINGS is happy to share this empowering and insightful video with you.

Mentors are career parents

Mentors – The Experience and the Outcome

Hello, welcome to the final post of a three part series to bring you the voices of the millennial women of today! I will be sharing their perspectives on opportunities in the workplace, life lessons that I’m sure will resonate with several of you and their take on mentoring. This series was driven by the curiosity of thoughts I have shared below.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

In the game of life, we don’t have time to stop we have to keep pushing ourselves to improve. Growing in life does not come from complacency it comes from consistency and persistence. While young women in all fields have been known to push themselves, there happens to be the question, are they succeeding nearly as much as they could be? Are there acquirable tools to aid in the advancement of their careers?

In other words, is there something that these young women may be missing, such as opportunities or connections, that could boost their careers? I, Anita Chitnis, had the privilege of interviewing young millennial women from California to New York on behalf of WINGS for Growth. These women truly enrich as women who reside in different fields, different backgrounds, and different mindsets.

To protect our participants’ privacy, we have chosen to share only their last initial. We thank them deeply for sharing their voices with WINGS and hope other young women out there find this inspiring. These young women from completely different professions, performing arts, nursing and public health industries, had somewhat similar messages.

For this portion of the series, I, on behalf of wings, decided to explore the idea of a mentor. A great way to find opportunities is having a mentor. What really is a mentor? Oxford Dictionary defines it as “an experienced and trusted advisor”. A great majority may assume that a mentor can only be a professional in a specific industry who helps you get to the next step. While having a professional mentor is very important in order to make connections and often “get your foot in the door” a mentor can be more than just one to push your career.

Mentors are career parents

Mentors are very important in navigating the pathway of choices and decisions rightfully

What is a mentor to you? Why is having a mentor important?

“A mentor can be any number of things. For some it may be someone who provides structure in your life and helps you gain access to other connections in the industry while for others it may simply be who shows you etiquette on how to speak, present yourself, how to push yourself etc. Having a mentor is important because they can help you grow as a person and find new job opportunities or at least pass you on to someone else who can definitely help you” – Megha V., Philly

How has having a mentor benefited you in your career?

“Having a mentor, along with a very open environment in the workplace provided structure and support that enabled me to grow as a person. I learned so much about opening up, asking questions and not losing my voice in a traditionally male dominated field because of this.” Veronica K., Camden

“I was very privileged to be in a setting like Rutgers where traditional aspects of my life didn’t hinder my progress but professors along with my peers became mentors in different capacities and helped mold me into a more confident person who takes risks.” – Susie L, East Brunswick

What is another aspect you would hope that more women have or do, to further their professional life?

“Having a very strong role model really helped me to be able to push for what I want. My mother became a surgeon and had to fight really hard to have a seat at the table in a male dominated field. That definitely has pushed me to pursue anything I want in my own life.” – Seton K., Morristown

“Finding empowered women, especially in today’s age with media outlets, has made it easier to believe I can be who I want to be. We can see, on social media, that women are slowly dominating every field and being able to relate a bit more to certain careers can push more women into following their passions.” – Megha V., Philly.

We hope you enjoyed the third of the micro blog series and continue to follow our journey as we learn more from these educated women. Our first article on opening up to opportunities was followed by a letter to a younger self and ended with finding a mentor for your self advancement. Please share thsi article and your comments below.

More importantly, we want you to know that there are many ways to get involved with WINGS for Growth. There are mentor roles available or you can explore the idea of becoming a mentee and benefiting from a mentor with us. In addition, you can champion a mentor mentee engagement or be a volunteer to really get to know who we are as an organization! Remember, it is never a bad time to learn something new!

Until next time,


This blog article was contributed by Anita Chitnis an aspiring writer, blogger and a volunteer at WINGS.