There are so many ways one can define the difference between an amateur artist and a professional like skill level, experience, fees charged, recognition, etc. I believe the number one defining factor is an attitude and relationship with the art form.
Amateur dancer seeks and enjoys approval.
Professional dancer seeks and enjoys critique.
The professional craves feedback that offers further challenges and forces ever deeper learning journeys into their beloved art form. Approval feels good at first and informs a student they are on the right path but eventually it wears thin and does not lead anywhere new.
I just came off of directing Arabesque's latest production Sawah. It has received almost unanimous rave reviews. Even our biggest dance critic Michael Crabb (Toronto Star) who has had very little good things to say about our previous productions seems to really like Sawah as well. I am still receiving emails two weeks later with people exclaiming they are continually moved by it. Funny though, while I am thrilled and in some ways ecstatic, I feel more empty than after any other production and very little desire to continue to create.
In 1992, Arabesque presented for the first time in a main stream dance festival and were bascially booed off the stage. It hurt and was extremely embarrassing. However, I loved my dance form so much, it made me more than ever determined to find a way to translate and offer this art form in a manner the main stream dance world could appreciate. Consequently I set about on a difficult learning and discovery path that has been invigorating and obviously led to the creation of this latest production Sawah.
I remember the advice of a famous actress once who said an artist is finished if they start to believe their own publicity. Kinda think this quote is along the same lines. A thriving professional needs to be forever seeking learning opportunities.