by Brian Henninger
Have you ever heard the expression “ if you’re 15 minutes early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, and if you’re late… you’re fired!” Unfortunately for all too many dancers this is not the rule but rather a standard that way too few dancers hold themselves to. It is such a problem that this week’s blog will address the standards of both punctuality and communication that we must hold ourselves to in this industry.
Punctuality: Why Your Being Late Affects Everyone.
Have you ever been on time and warmed up in a rehearsal only to have to wait on several late comers to show up? Have you ever been late to a rehearsal and had to rush in without warming up ? Neither situation feels particularly good. When you show up late to an audition, appointment, rehearsal, etc., it not only negatively reflects on you as a dancer who ( pardon my french) “doesn’t have their sh#$ together”, it also puts your body, and the bodies of the other dancers in jeopardy because not warming up puts you at increased risk for injuries, and causes minor mental slip ups to happen as well. Everyone runs into unexpected delays sometimes but consistently showing up late to things WILL cause people to look at you as an unreliable dancer. In an industry where time is LITERALLY money, and people are dealing with multi million dollar budgets, you will get fired faster then you got hired for being late. If you’re sitting there reading this saying “ but I am not working on any big budget projects, I am just dancing in underground performances working my way up”, then start conducting yourself as a world class professional dancer NOW! Simply being on time is the first step.
Communication: The Key To Working Well With ANYONE
Communicating with the people you are working with is super important. If people are always hounding you to get you to respond to emails, to send your materials, or to answer phone calls, it’s yet another indication that you are NOT someone who is great to work with. Being up front and honest with choreographers about your scheduling conflicts, obligations, etc. will cause them so much less frustration and stress then having to scramble at the last minute to replace you or accommodate YOUR conflicts. Be upfront about this and avoid over booking yourself. Remember that doing 100 different things just OK is no where near as useful as doing 2-3 INCREDIBLY WELL. I know first hand the temptation to just say yes to everything you’re offered, but this will do nothing positive for your career in the long run and it will SERIOUSLY burn you out in the short term.
Consider any other self employed successful business person. They must be punctual, efficient, well-mannered, driven, focused, and communicative if they expect to see any success in whatever they are doing. You as a professional dancer are no different. You must hold yourself to these same standards. Unfortunately in the dance industry today we are experiencing a time of entitlement, lack of skill, and hype. Some of the MOST recognizable dancers today are also some of the most unprofessional, but I can promise you that their talents will only take them so far. Be the exception, show the powers that make the decisions that dancers are of the same professional qualities as Oscar winning actors, writers, and musicians. There was a golden age of dance, when dancers got paid VERY WELL for their work, when we were seen as the STARS not the BACKUPS. I believe that time is coming around again, but it is up to us as an industry to bring up the quality one kick ball change at a time. 🙂