Our Second Shift series profiles people who work more than one job to make ends meet. This week, meet Chriselle, a ticket taker at the Metropolitan Opera House who also has her own dance company and is a freelance performer. Want to be featured? Email Emily.Laurence@metro.us.
Name: Chriselle Tidrick
Residence: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Lives with: Her husband
Number of jobs: 3
How long have you been a ticket taker at the Metropolitan Opera House?What exactly do you do?
I got this job 15 years ago through a friend. I used to be a teacher and after I left my teaching job, I was wondering how I was going to pay my bills. My friend suggested I apply. Otherwise I never would have thought of it. I work in the evenings six days a week, taking tickets from people coming to see the performances. I love it. I like being able to see the performances and hear wonderful music.
You also have your own dance company, Above and Beyond Dance. What goes into that?
Since I only work in the evenings at the Metropolitan Opera House, except on Saturdays, my days are free to work on my company. If we have a performance coming up, my dancers and I will spend hours in the studio rehearsing the choreography. I video the rehearsals and spend a lot of time going over the performance videos, calling out what I think is working and what we need to keep developing. There is also a lot of administrative work that needs to be done. I could easily spend 30 hours a week on that alone. From fundraising, to scheduling, to press releases and promo, I'm really doing everything myself.
Were you scared to take the risk of starting your own business?
I was scared to death. But the great thing is, I have some wonderful friends who are also choreographers. I sat down with them and really picked their brains about how I could make this happen. I asked them things like, how does this work? What do you find most effective?
Do you have to fundraise so you have enough money for the upkeep and to pay your dancers?
There's a lot to pay for: the venue, rehearsal space, costumes, the musicians, dancers...It adds up quite fast. If I charged at the box office what it would be to cover my costs, no one would be able to afford to come to the performances. I've gotten some grants and also private donations, which has helped greatly.
Are you happy working both jobs, or do you wish you could focus on your business more?
It's amazing. I also do work with other dance companies, my third "job" of sorts, and have been able to travel across the country and abroad. It's such a blessing to get to be an artist and travel. When I was a teenager, I really wanted to be a performer, but I wasn't sure I could make it happen. This performance life has just sort of unfolded in front of me. Everything I do brings me a lot of joy.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence