Kim Chi Le, Dance

I'm Kim Chi, and I'm a dance artist

Describe your job

I work as a dancer, dance teacher, choreographer as well as photographer, videographer and producer so my day to day can vary a lot.

When I’m making a dance piece as a choreographer, I spend a lot of time creating the movement material either by myself or with the dancers in a studio. I do a lot of scheduling and planning for the rehearsals that I will then lead. If I work as a dancer, my days will be spent in a dance studio working with other dancers and a choreographer. If I’m teaching dance, I plan my classes and then deliver them to students. Sometimes at the end of a term there is a dance show for which I then need to create a choreography and decide on the costumes.

Besides working as a dancer, dance teacher and choreographer, I also work with dancers and other creatives as a photographer and videographer. The work is often freelance based work where someone ask me to do a certain job such as taking images of a performance or filming and editing a trailer. Before the event or the shoot I often have a meeting or a chat with the client, making sure I know what type of event this is and what is expected from me. On the day I arrive with my equipment and do the photographing or filming. After the event, there is post-production work which is often editing the images/footage. This often happens in conversation with the client.

I also work as a producer. I’ve mainly been producing different arts festivals. This often involves communicating with different people such as artists that will share they work, people that will be hired depending on the event, venue and ticket office staff, light and sound engineers, videographers and photographers, catering etc. My day often includes meeting with different people, writing emails and documents such as contracts, managing the budget and making sure things running smoothly. I would say the job is mainly about communication and project management. Depending on the project, I might also be part of idea generation and planning the feeling of the festival.

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

I would say creativity, social skills and organisational and logistical skills.

I left school and...

I completed a degree in Contemporary Dance in London. During my studies I was involved in loads of things outside school: I did my first placement with a music and dance festival at my conservatoire and worked as an assistant producer in an international experimental festival for my second placement. The second placement was very eye-opening and I loved every part of it! We had a good relationship with the producers and they seemed to like me so they asked me whether I wanted to work with them for the coming years. This was amazing offer as I was still doing my course and still had a year left.

During my last year of studies, I was part of The Fi.ELD (The Future Innovators of East London Dance) which is a programme by East London Dance for young creatives who want to learn about producing. The course was incredible and as part of it we produced an online, weeklong multi-arts festival – in the middle of global pandemic! The festival was a couple months after finishing my degree so since graduating, I have been working non-stop.

I’m most proud of...

I’m most proud of MESA Festival we recently producer with The Fi.ELD Cohort. I’m impressed by how we managed to still be creative and make things happen in the middle of pandemic. I think that shows a lot of resilience and adaptability. Suddenly working from home and delivering a whole festival online was quite an experience, especially us all being emerging producers and none of us had years of experience in producing, let alone experience in producing events online.

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

I wish I knew that life doesn’t go the way you plan.

I was never planning to move to London to study contemporary dance when back at home in Finland I was teaching hip hop and wanted to become a teacher and didn’t see myself doing ballet and contemporary – let alone producing festivals while being still in education. One thing has led to another and I wish I had tried to plan and control my life less and just be open to the opportunities that arise.

In a way my interests haven’t changed much during these years so I guess I have said yes to things I would have said no to in the past.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

Take care of your wellbeing! There’s nothing more important than your own health. Find your hobbies and ways to relax. Work is not everything although it’s really hard to understand that when you are doing something you really love.

So, what’s next?

I hope I get to work with great people, produce and create interesting works and events while doing meaningful work for myself and others.

I’m interested in loads of things and would like to have a break from dance and gain other experiences. My plan is to take care of my health and wellbeing and slow down. I’m also getting into coding and starting a business with a friend. I’m hoping there are some opportunities to work as a producer as well.

My long-term dream is to have my own company, organisation or any kind of business that looks like me and represents my values.

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