To be able to pursue your passion, to make a living from something you love – that is what we live for. Today, opportunities to support careers in the creative industry are growing, and more people are inspired to succeed in the arts. Stories are emerging from successful creatives who encourage our youth to remain ambitious, driven and passionate. I had the pleasure of chatting to Rai Iose, performer and teacher at The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC). Rai pursued his love for dance despite advice to remain on a steady academic pathway. He is a “a testament to what hard work can [achieve]”, resulting in his success at NZDC.

Rai initially took dance in high school, without his parents knowing; “Love your parents and respect them,” he comments, “but also show your parents you can make something out of [your passions].” It is too often that career pathways in the creative industry are belittled and undermined, however, Rai’s sense of determination and courage is what led to his success. Passion is part of the equation, but perseverance is necessary if you want to achieve. Rai chats about the importance of persevering, even when you feel as though you are not making an impact: “Make sure you persevere… stick your head out… be a yes man… pop up on radars so they know you’re there.”

His passion for dance is rooted in more than just freedom of expression; it is rooted in the ability to communicate universally. He says, “Dance is its own language. It’s like music, a universal language.” The medium of dance can transcend societal boundaries and allow us to focus on the art form. It can communicate emotion and experience everywhere. “I can go somewhere remote and do some gestures and the other person will know what I’m talking about. That makes me feel free, dance has no restraints.”

NZDC allowed Rai to shape his own pathway by making creative opportunities available to him. Since his first workshop with NZDC in high school, Rai has been inspired to perform and teach with NZDC. His message for budding dancers and those wanting to pursue their passions is: “Persevere and do not let your mindset get in the way. It’s all in the brain, all in the mind. Go with the flow!”

NZDC are currently welcoming applications for their Youth Spring School, a great chance for teens to become involved in the Company and experience what a contemporary dance career looks like. For information and registration, head to the website here

Students from the Youth Spring School will also be performing at the Auckland Museum at 1 pm on Saturday 13th October. Full details can be found here.


JENNIFER CHEUK is an English/Communications and Linguistics major with a passion for graphic novels and sophisticated picture books.  She likes eating grated cheese and watching niche films. Can be found cartooning and writing on Instagram: @selcouthbird.