“Homesickness is not a curse I wish on anyone” Dancer Jessie Rochford-Barber reflects on life as a dancer living abroad

Jessie dancing in ‘The Beatles Tribute Show’ at the Secrets and Now Resorts in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

What’s it like to be a dancer living abroad?

Ever since I was little I always had the same dream….. Travel my way around the world by dancing in as many places and on as many stages as possible.

Dancing aboard away from family and loved ones is just like any out of comfort zone experience really. You have the crazy highs and the heartbreaking lows.

Jessie in Bonnie Curtis Projects’s GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

Some amazing experiences that I could have never imagined include; dancing an in an outdoor performance of Lion King during an insane thunderstorm in The Bahamas (fork lightning included), dancing with fire on a beach in Mexico, performing as a ‘revolving door’ 8 hours a day on Sydney wharf, seeing 42 different countries represented at the opening ceremony of The World Championships of Performing Arts in LA, learning tricks on the flying trapeze and touring our show GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS around Australia where I, of course, dance with a pink balloon.

Jessie performing in Bonnie Curtis Projects’ Vogelsang

Ask any dancer and they will tell you, a standing ovation for us is worth the long hours, crazy bosses, millions of calf raises and spending your entire life in dance studios, (at one stage I quite literally lived in one).  But I won’t lie, missing your family and friends is very hard. Homesickness is not a curse I wish on anyone.

This does however bring me to one of the absolute best parts of living and dancing overseas…. Finding your people.

Exchanging many heartbreaking plane rides for new faces has been worth every second. I now have friends from all over the world who have taught me many important life lessons, different viewpoints and who have helped me through several embarrassing breakdowns. Finding your tribe is one of the greatest parts of these dance adventures and The BCP girls are some of the best.

Photography by Russell Horton

I also love how much dancing overseas has changed and challenged my world views. Growing up in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, instilled in me many moralistic ideas about humanity and equal rights. However actually experiencing things like extremely poor communities in Mexico taking in and caring for every single person in their city during a hurricane warning and being punched in the face by a random in Santa Monica really opened my eyes to what is out there

As dancers we can take these crazy, more emotionally challenging experiences and try to deconstruct and understand them. It is amazing to be part of a company like BCP that allows us the freedom to explore and contribute these ideas to our dance works. I am so happy that all my adventures eventually led me to be part of this amazing team.

I often wonder what that little girl would think of the life I am living now and hope that she would be proud of herself that she was brave enough to go out and catch that plane.

Jessie will be returning to her home town of Wellington in March 2019 to perform in GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS at the NZ Fringe.

Tickets are on sale now through NZ Fringe.

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