“In the UK, the appreciation for the arts is immense and I love that,” he articulated, his voice filled with emotion. “The reaction that we get is always so positive, so welcoming, so lovely.
I was really amazed by the lack of support for the industry
“[However] during Covid, it went completely the opposite way.
“There was absolutely no support, absolutely no understanding,” the 31-year-old Slovenian recalled incredulously.
“People were even told to retrain themselves, to become a mechanic.
“You know how to point your toes, but now you need to fix a car.”
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He added the UK had been hit particularly hard when theatres were forced to close because of the intense appreciation that he felt the British had for the arts in comparison to many other countries.
“We sell theatres that you could never sell in any other country in the world,” the Strictly star marvelled.
“It’s not just how many people dance, but how many people appreciate art.”
He added: “I have friends that do Dancing With The Stars in America and for them it would be extremely difficult to sell seats.”
Then, when the pandemic spiralled out of control and total lockdown blighted the futures of those with promising dance careers, he believes talented people in the UK had further to fall.
Aljaz added he regarded dancers as more at risk than some other members of the creative industry.
“If you become the most successful actor in the world, you’re financially sorted for life,” he stated.
“Your whole family tree is financially sorted for life.
“With dancing, that’s not really the case.”
He was quick to add he “wasn’t complaining”, but the series of long-term lockdowns had been a strain on bank balances, not to mention career enjoyment.
Clara Amfo, the host of the This City podcast on which Aljaz was a special guest, concurred: “The arts are the first place we go to mend our broken hearts, but what do we do when the artists are broken themselves?”
Aljaz agreed: “You always seek refuge in something that makes you happy, that puts a smile on your face, that’s not as harsh as reality is sometimes.
“If you don’t have that place [through watching performances], where do you go?
“I was really amazed by the lack of support for the industry, how little support artists got through the toughest times for everyone.
“I do hope there’s not gonna be a generation of talent missing.
“The kids that are talented… going to drama schools and exploring their creative side [with] dancing, singing, acting – I hope those decisions [taken during coronavirus] didn’t affect [their futures] because it will break my heart.”
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