Defining a dance career
A dance career can take many forms which may include:
- Freelance dance performer
- Dance school owner
- Cruise line dancer
- Platform Creator
- And more, listed later
In fact, any pursuit related to dance can become a career, but there are a few things that can greatly improve the chance of longevity in the game. These include, but are not limited to:
- Having clear direction
- Playing to your strengths
- Continued skill development
- Documenting achievements
It’s possible that you are already well versed in these factors or at least have considered them. I’m going to expand on these points, so without further ado, here are 5 tips to nurture your dance career.
5 Tips to nurture your dance career
1) Have a clear direction (but remember to be flexible!)
If you’ve ever heard the story of Nefeli Tsiouti, you’ll know that she was a highly accomplished B-girl. Due to injury, Nefeli was forced to pivot from her chosen path. She went on to create Breakalign – a wellness program for dancers – which has taken her around the world!
(Also, Nef features in our ultimate guide to Breakin’ in London – take a look!)
Anyone that has achieved something of real note will be able to tell you how focused they were on the goal. Make a decision of what you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it. Having this goal written down and referring to it on a regular basis helps to focus the mind.
Setting a goal can occur at anytime in one’s career so if you don’t have one, today is as good a day as any to think it through. Write down as many options of interest to you, and then refine the list until you have one or two standout ideas. Next, set a desired time limit to achieve this goal and create small, manageable steps to get you to this goal.
For example: let’s say you want to dance for Dua Lipa at an awards show. Your steps may include:
- Find out who choreographs for her and attend their class, weekly.
- Find out what agency her dancers are booked through and audition / work on getting signed
- Maintain a training regime so that you are ready for the opportunity at any time
- Ensure your social media looks like one that a Dua Lipa dancer would have. Pics, vids, classes, creations and your community. You never know who’s watching.
- Have an interest in the artist, when and where she is touring, and note if there are opportunities for you to tryout for the tour / city stop.
These are just some ideas, and each can be broken down into smaller steps. If you are doing these things, it’s likely that something remarkable will come your way, even if it isn’t this specific artist. Intention planning and hard work are favourable, and also it pays to be flexible.
When you are committed to your mission, people pay attention. You will receive offers and opportunities from a variety of sources. Some things that are proposed are, in essence, distractions, but others may be very real opportunities. It’s important to distinguish the difference and at least give some new things a try.
Your goals may be easier to define overall if you…
2) Embrace your super powers!
We need not have the speed of The Flash or telekinetic powers like Professor X in order to be super heroes. Most people we admire are recognised for a couple of standout super powers they hold and you should be no exception.
Write down, honestly, skills you have or want to develop and focus on building them. It’s likely that there will be other, supporting skills to develop as well, but 80% of resources (time, energy, money, mind and soul), should be focused on building on strengths.
What this does is give you a specialism which will be your calling card. You might major in choreography and minor in tricks or be excellent in creating platforms but also working on funding applications.
As our careers develop, so to do our super powers. It’s not far fetched after 20 years in the game to be strong in:
- Platform creation
- Film making
- Soundtrack creation
- and any number of skills
At different times in one’s dance career, any of these skills may be required time and time again. recognise that the NEXT Dua Lipa is going to need a choreographer, so will it be you? Pay attention to the things that serve you well in pursuit of this dream, but also…
3) Always be learning
Related to the previous point, but possibly more important is to always be learning.
If you have been in the dance industry in any capacity for 3 years or more, you’ll be extremely aware of how quickly things change. Competition is more fierce. Every month there’s a new ‘buzz dance’. Funding is being cut. New stars are born on social media. It’s a lot.
If we are constantly attending classes, training with others and seeking resources we are going to be sharp! Join groups where there are others in your field and be part of the conversation. As we specialise in teaching, we joined the Dance Teachers Network on Facebook. We have learned many remarkable things from educators around the world and have, in turn, shared our knowledge.
Once you have left school, you get to CHOOSE the things you wish to learn and this should be embraced. At school, one important thing they DON’T teach you, though is…
4) The Power of Networking
Tim Sanders once said
“Your network is your net worth”(see quote here)
In every industry, this term holds some weight.
Do you ever think, “This person is always on jobs, but I have to audition with 900 other people”? Have you noticed how some people seem to be at every sold out party YOU want to go to, but never have to queue? This is the power of networking.
When it comes to building your network, here are some things to consider:
- What do I hope networking will bring my way? (Point number 1: Have a goal!)
- Who / what group(s) might help me to attain this goal?
- What talents / skills / resources etc. can I offer that may be of value to others? (Point number 2: Super powers!)
- Who will I have to become to raise my social standing? (This can be a healthy motivator)
- Who do I already know that can help me meet others and expand my presence?
Chances are, you already have a network. People you studied with, friends, family and clients are just some of the potential sources of connection. We list a number of places and ways to network in the London Street Dance scene here.
Networking, in it’s essence, doesn’t mean you need to go out with business cards and interrogate the masses. What it DOES mean is:
- You may have to attend a person’s event that you promised to make
- You may have to start remembering people’s names! And possibly birthdays!
- Engaging with the social media of others
- Inviting people to be part of things you are doing. Even if they don’t accept, they will remember that you invited them
- Offering a hand where your super powers can assist
These are just some of the ways that you build relationships with others, and although it can become overwhelming, breathe. Remember that you are developing your dance career and many of these points will organically cross over.
Networking is a natural human activity from childhood, so don’t let the connotation of the phrase stand in your way. You already have a network, just expand it and stay in touch with people. The final point, of great importance is to…
5) Document your achievements!
More so now than ever before it’s important to collect as much information on YOURSELF as you possibly can. Whatever step forward you wish to take, people will now expect to see a list of things you have done. Is your list ready?
Now, creating a show reel, resumé / CV, dossier or portfolio is going to take time, so don’t leave it until you NEED it before you start collecting. Make a structured plan for sourcing, collecting and then presenting your material. Also, consider who you want to present this material to.This should help define they way you will create a document or video.
If you are making a show reel, keep it concise and focused on your best bits, with a variety of credits, where possible. Careful select your music and if you don’t trust yourself to create a show reel that rocks, ask your network! I told you that things would overlap 🙂
Potential dance careers – The List!
In addition to the careers listed above, there are several more for your consideration. Our episode of Tin Talks below touches on a few of these. Watch and enjoy “How to work in the dance industry”.
Below, we list a few potential industries for you!
Teaching is what we’re most widely known for at B-Better and we believe that it’s a solid way to make an income. High level teaching can also scratch most of the itches associated with being a professional performer (although there’s nothing like it).
As mentioned in the video, if you really care about developing your students, you can become a brilliant teacher. This field of employment is a useful consideration for many.
Dance School Owner
Similar in many ways to being ‘a teacher’ but with greater responsibility. Dance schools may be expected to examine their students and are typically geared towards teens and younger children. Owning a dance school can be a solid business idea and many make this work worldwide. It pays to be in an area without much competition, though.
If your dance school is short of ideas our online tutorials are built so that you can expand on your hiphop knowledge. Take a look!
When you’ve been a working, performing dancer for many years, you have an understanding of the industry. Creating opportunities for others could be an amazing motivator for you and becoming an agent might be the way.
Running an agency is a unique challenge in that, effectively, you work for the the artists you represent. If you are well connected, can build a brand and want to launch the career of others, this is a great way to do it. You may also get invited to some awesome parties! ^_^
Platform creator (shows / competitions)
Want to create your own show? What about a competition? Platform creation puts you at the heart of whatever industry you are interested in and can yield HIGH rewards. Around the world this industry is a big money spinner for some. It’s important to strike a balance between reflecting the artistry and balancing the books.
Our own event, Ante Up!, had to undergo some real changes to become financially viable. Make sure your long term goal and PROCESS are clearly defined (as mentioned earlier!).
Choreographer / Movement director
If you want to create the works that the world is talking about, becoming a choreographer is the route to take. Parris Goebel, Brian Friedman and Ivan Blackstock are all highly accomplished dancers, but we recall their CREATIONS as well as their personal dance talent.
Exploring your creative ideas whilst also making a mark on the world AND remaining flexible are just some of the perks. We hope to touch on choreography in greater depth another time.
In summary, here are 5 tips to stay in the dance industry and nurture a career:
- Have a clear direction (but remember to be flexible)
- Embrace your superpowers!
- Always be learning
- Network, network and network
- Document your achievements
There are several industries one can enter as a dancer. We have listed a few but please consult this list of 28 potential jobs you can get into, for more ideas.
Whichever dance-related specialism you choose, from podium dancer to Zumba instructor, there is a high paying, fulfilling job for you. Be sure to refer to the 5 powerful tips listed earlier as they will serve you well!
If there are any jobs we should have listed, let us know and if you have crafted a path for yourself in a unique niche, we’d LOVE to hear more.
While you’re here check out what jobs we have here at B-Better and subscribe for future news and perspective.