Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Pursuit of Passion Vs Making Money: Adrian Wanliss

Published:Sunday | January 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Danielle Kirsten Romer (DKR Photography) Adrian J. Wanliss

Pursuit of passion vs making money: Adrian Wanliss

"There is no greater joy than doing what you love and loving what you do! And I'm loving every moment of it." How many can truly relate to this?

As a child, one of the first questions asked while attending school is 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' Normally, the answers range from doctors to lawyers, nurses, policemen, but when the realities of life sink in, children often choose very different careers when they grow up.

For some, the road towards success is paved with good intentions, but roadblocks along the way cause a detour to another route. While, for others, they live within the moment, journeying along several routes to satisfy the voyager within them.

Each week, Outlook will catch up with individuals who made the decision to pursue their passion, make some money or experience the best of both worlds in doing both.

This week, we feature Adrian Wanliss, who defied the odds to chase his dreams all the way to the international stage.

The 26-year-old recounted the days when he was young and carefree.


"When growing up, I wanted to be either a journalist or a lawyer, but I've always had a passion for the arts. When I was a baby, my parents said the only thing that would really keep me quiet was the arts programmes they would play on JBC on Sundays."

With the arts running through his veins, it stood as a worthy sidekick to other heroic scholastic pursuits. He went on to study information technology at the college level, and even though he was good at it, he just could not see himself doing it for the rest of his life.

"I took dance just as seriously as my schoolwork. So there was never a real transition from it being a hobby to a focal point. I never really even decided that I wanted to study only dance. I just knew it was right for me in my second year of college studying IT. I was unhappy and found that I was only happy when doing something in the arts. So you could say I didn't choose it, it chose me." Wanliss highlighted.

His great choice came with great responsibility, which resulted in Wanliss packing up and leaving Jamaica to pursue his dream.

Armed with a scholarship, he was off to Europe to attend university. After obtaining his degree in dance, he set off to work in Amsterdam. He is currently a ballet-soloist at a premier dance company, the Die Theater Chemnitz, based in Germany.

Shifting from IT to dance full-time took some adjusting, as Wanliss was so used to fitting dance classes into his life as an extra-curricular activity. When it became the main focus, he became a little disoriented as he had so much extra time on his hands.


Achieving his academic goals and now on the road to greatness on and off the stage, he reflects on the dance culture here in Jamaica.

"As a dancer in Jamaica, you can make a living by performing with different artistes and/or teaching. However, the kind of art I wanted to pursue is not really appreciated in Jamaica. Additionally, if you don't have an established teaching job, you have no financial security. There is no company that pays their dancers a set salary every month," Wanliss shared.

Living the dream, however, does have its side effects. Asked whether he had regrets, he said: "Being away from home is difficult. I'm just happy that I can do what I want and actually be secure financially. It takes the pressure off wondering how I'm going to pay my rent or bills. Dance has enough pressure without that. No regrets whatsoever. Just wish I could have a bit of home more often."

His take on the importance of being happy or making money: "If you have enough passion for something, you can/will find a way to make money to live comfortably. I don't aim to be rich. My aim is to live a full, happy life."

Join us next week where we bring another dream chaser or moneymaker - or both - into the spotlight.