Updated: Sep 24, 2019
What’s the difference between a musician jammin' on the street and musician playing Madison Square Garden to an audience of twenty-thousand people? Is it talent? Commitment? Maybe, but often it’s simply how prepared and knowledgeable the musician is.
As artists, we spend so much time focusing on our craft that we forget about business side of our field. How can we market ourselves and our work to actually make a living doing what we love?
Here’s 9 Things Dancers Can Do Right Now To Start A Successful Career In Dance:
1. Network As Much As You Can:
The more people you know in the industry, the better your chances are at getting discovered by a Talent Agent or dance company. Share your demo with others, pass out headshots, and find areas in your community that are all about dance. You’ll most likely meet individuals who are pursuing the same dream: to be discovered and make a career out of your passion.
So don’t be one sided on this- if someone asks you to share something (and you feel comfortable doing so), do it. That dancer might just become a valuable contact (or your boss!), which could be the difference between you getting your dream job and you staying at home.
2. Study Sets:
Whether it’s small scale or a full production, familiarize yourself with the rules and standards of a film set before you actually step foot on one. If you know anything about a live set already, then you probably also know that time is limited. There is not a lot of time to teach newbies the ins and outs of the industry. Producers, managers, agents and companies are going to expect you to know the basics of how a set runs, what you should do, and how you should do it. Everything else comes with experience!
Need some experience on a set? Dancers can get extensive training on pre-production procedures, filming, and dance techniques with Jordan Mac Studios’ Dance Video Workshops. Check out their concept videos, behind the scenes, and more here:
3. Have Great Social Media Accounts:
With this one, sometimes it’s a chicken or an egg sort of deal. Which one comes first: Having a successful social media, or becoming a popular dancer? Ironically, you need one to have the other. Social media is going to be a vital tool for you to have a fulfilling career in dance as well as a place for Talent Agents and companies to view your demos, headshots, and personality, all in one place. The earlier you start building your pages, the sooner you are to land that big job.
Want to learn how to build your social media accounts and attract potential agents/companies? Click here and find out!
4. Practice And Perform As Much As You Can: Freestyle
Is your local dance studio having a masterclass session sometime soon? Maybe there’s a small dance competition coming to your area? Whatever the opportunity is- get out and dance - even if it’s just free-styling (trust me, you’ll want to learn how to dance without choreography). These are moments to grow your craft, so having practical knowledge of performance and the stage is going to make you more valuable to a Talent Agent. Plus, you never know who might be in the audience to watch your show. Don’t miss your shot!
5. Be Diverse (without spreading yourself thin):
Agents look for dancers who have a complete repertoire of dance styles and the practical experience to match. Try and learn as many styles of dance as you can. But remember, don’t try and master EVERY type of dance (because, well, it’s impossible). It’s better to be highly skilled in two or three areas of dance then to be average in six or seven. Learn what seems valuable to you and your dream.
6. Watch for Scams:
When all of your hard work finally does pay off and you’re approached by an agent, dance or convention company, evaluate the offer. Do your research on the offer that you’ve received. Make sure you know the difference between non-exclusive and exclusive contracts.
Similarly, remember that an agency should NEVER ask for a payment from you upfront. You will pay out-of-pocket for photos and demos, but not for representation from a company. You’ll want these photos and demos to be as perfect as possible so your Talent Agent can represent you well. Be careful about which offers you accept and which offers you decline. If it smells fishy, it probably is.
7. Be Employable:
This one goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway): aspire to be a strong asset to the group. That means showing up on time, hitting your marks, giving and receiving constructive criticism, being coachable, and doing all that your employer requires of you. Becoming a professional dancer takes a lot of time, practice, and patience, so don’t ruin it with sloppy work.
The harder you work, the greater your chances of working in the industry will be. Be your best self, and most importantly, be professional. Word of mouth travels quickly, and you don't want to be the dancer known for being hard to work with. There are PLENTY of dancers who are ready and willing to step up and take your place with a positive attitude. Be known for excellence on and off the stage.
8. Watch Other Dancers:
Any time you have the opportunity, go to different dance performances. If watching from home is more your thing, you can always go to YouTube and watch professional dance videos. Take notes on style, delivery, speed, and choreography, and then compare it to your own. Let this be an introspective tool to see where you are and where you want to be. Highlight the things you are good at and pick a few things to work on. You got this!
Side note: Don’t focus on what the dancer looks like. There's only one person that can look and dance like you, and that’s you. Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t change.
9. Know What You Want:
The best advice for any artist, performer, or creative individual is: Have an idea of what you want to do and make a realistic plan for how you want to do it. If going to a university across the country to get your BFA in dance makes sense for your career goal, go for it. If you want to go on tour with a major music artist, or dance in a major industry music video, then your path is going to be different.
No matter what you decide, it’s going to take time to achieve your goal and establish a long healthy career. Put yourself out there, make smart decisions, and learn the business side of the industry. You’ll be on your way in no time!
If you’re looking for a comprehensive 12-month program that will prepare you for your professional career in dance, check out Jordan Mac Institute of Dance Certificate Program here.