Starting From Square One: Dancing Without An Agent

By Brian Henninger

In the wide world of the dance industry one thing remains pretty clear. If you’re aspiring to dance in major music videos, concert tours, t.v. shows, movies etc, at some point you are probably going to start dealing with an agent. Agents can become a necessary asset to your career as you move forward but there is also a lot one can accomplish on his or her own as well.

The only real difference between having and not having an agent is that when you don’t have an agent it is completely on you to book your own work, negotiate pay, stand up for your rights, network, communicate etc. But honestly these are basic career based principles that you should be practicing ANYWAY regardless of whether you have an agent or not.

So if you don’t have an agent, or even if you do, you should be doing the following on a regular if not daily basis:

Checking Casting networks, and actors access as well as other casting sites: These websites get most of the same audition notices that agents hear about from all the major casting directors. Most of these sites charge a membership fee but this is just a cost of dong business for you. Remember you are your own company so you have business expenses just like any other job. These sites allow you to submit yourself for roles by uploading your headshot and resume to the website. They work and I have booked several jobs from them!

Be aware and conscious of what is happening in your industry: BE ENGAGED! If you are taking class on a regular basis – and you should be – you are around a lot of information about what is happening in the dance world. Be receptive to it! Performance opportunities also come from being seen in class which in turn can get you seen by agents.

Here are a few ways you can get an agent besides just auditioning for an agency:

1. Have a friend that is represented by the agency send your materials via email and refer you. Agents do take referrals! It happens most often when you do a job with someone with an agency, and then use the fact that you booked this job as a sort of bargaining chip to get your foot in the door.

2. Submit yourself! Send your materials to agencies several times a year whenever you have stuff to add too your resume. They check their mail and do view submissions a lot.

3. Attend industry events and introduce yourself to the agents. Don’t seem needy. Don’t seem desperate. Don’t even ask about being represented. Just introduce yourself in a professional manner and if you’re performing say something along the lines of “ Hi, I am actually performing tonight and I am really excited. I would love it if you took a look at the piece I am in.” Don’t expect anything to come from it. Just make the introduction. Now you’re more then just a face in the crowd. You’re a name that eventually they WILL remember.

Remember that your success in this industry DOES NOT EVER solely depend on your agent… EVER. It is your responsibility to take ownership of your career and be seeking avenues for growth and improvement. Its just as natural as evolution. It is your Professional evolution!

For more inside industry knowledge check out the best selling career guide for professional dancers.

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