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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Performers at UA pursue arts, follow hearts despite setbacks”

    Many of us wanted to be actors or rock stars when we were young. You might have dreamed of being a prima ballerina or the next Justin Timberlake. While most of us moved on to more practical passions, for thousands of students pursuing art at the UA, that dream has never changed. One actress, one dancer, and two musicians all spoke of pursuing passion and creative release.

    For Evan Runyon, the choice to pursue music wasn’t a childhood dream, but something that came later. “”It was more of a lack of any skill in traditional jobs,”” he said. “”I had no real talent for or interest in computers or administration,”” he explained. “”I knew I had to do something creative and also something self-directed.””

    The music senior, who plays the string bass several hours per day to improve his craft, plans to attend graduate school on the East Coast when he graduates. Though it is often difficult for classically trained musicians to find work, he has a positive take on his pursuit.

    “”You can’t delude yourself as a musician — it’s always a buyers’ market,”” he said. “”There are always going to be fewer jobs available than people looking for them.””

    Runyon’s advice to younger students considering a career in the arts: “”Be prepared to really not be truly appreciated by most of society.””

    When asked if the economic downturn made him re-evaluate his chosen career path, Runyon said that isn’t a concern of his. “”One of the most rich times for music in the United States was the Depression.””

    What makes all the long hours of practicing, struggling and suffering for his art worth the hard work? “”It’s a labor of love,”” he explained. “”When you do something that is creative for several hours a day, it’s a release. I don’t have to worry about my emotions bottling up inside.””

    Senior Ryan Slater also spoke of the long-range aspects of his goal of being a professional musician.

    “”I really just started in high school, I picked up the drums and I fell in love with it. I like the way music affected people and I wanted to be a part of it,”” he said.

    The music and business student has a metal band called Silent Bliss, which is releasing its first, six-song EP in early November.

    “”I play because I love being on stage. There’s nothing better than playing what you’ve written and hoping other people enjoy it,”” Slater said.

    After generating some interest with the new CD, Slater and his band plan to go on tour playing shows around the Southwest.

    “”At first you’re not going to be making money,”” Slater said of making it in the music business. “”But music is worth it and hopefully people will enjoy what you do.”” Slater also works at the local music production company Funzalo Records. He said he enjoys his work there because he can help other bands try to make it big in a competitive market.

    “”You have to do it because you love it, not because of the money,”” Slater said. “”Having people enjoy what you do, it’s worth it.””

    Actress Chelsea Bowdren, a senior in the Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program, echoed Slater’s advice with her thoughts on artistic pursuit. “”It’s cliché, but you do just have to follow your heart.””

    Bowdren explained that she is pursuing a career in acting because she “”couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”” Bowdren is currently in rehearsals for three productions, including the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s “”The Diary of Anne Frank,”” which opens Oct. 7. Bowdren said the world’s recent economic hardships have not made her reconsider her dream.

    “”Don’t let the idea of not being world-famous and not having a ton of money intimidate you,”” Bowdren said. “”I saved up for school, I’ve had to take out loans and apply for grants and scholarships.

    “”A lot of people constitute being famous with being successful. They’re just doing stuff for the money. Then (there) are people who are acting because they want to and they love to. I hope to support myself through acting, but I’m a realist.””

    For Bowdren, personal fulfillment is more important than financial success.

    “”I feel oddly complete when I’m acting, even though I know I have so much more to learn from and grow,”” Bowdren said. “”Through acting, you’re constantly learning because you’re constantly learning about yourself.””

    For Ariana Brawley, coming to the UA was the first big step toward finally realizing her dream to be a professional dancer. “”I started training when I was twelve, and that was always the end goal,”” she explained.

    “”The professional dance world is really competitive. It’s almost like being a professional athlete,”” explained the dance and communications junior. Brawley explained that training to be a dancer is very expensive, with little monetary reward. She said she will probably have to take a supplementary job to support herself while she pursues her dream.

    “”The last time I checked, I think dancers make below the poverty line,”” she said. “”Dancers are having a really, really hard time right now.””

    But Branley said she is not pursuing dance for financial reasons. “”It’s what makes me happy. It’s my expression and my artistry, and I’ve fallen in love with it,”” she said. “”It’s not about the money, it’s not about stability — it’s about the adventure of being a dancer.””

    Though arts funding is down, jobs are scarce and the life of the artist is uncertain, these four art students and hundreds like them have chosen to pursue creative careers over options that might prove more stable.

    “”If you are skilled and hardworking, there will always be work for you,”” Runyon said.

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