Establishing & Maintaining Relationships in the Dance Industry

Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.

— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Author
Photo via Brian Moore Live

Photo via Brian Moore Live

By Jadée Nikita

The professional dance industry is a very small world.  Your talent and personality will get you in the door, but after that, it’s your professionalism that will keep you in the room.  There are lines that should not be crossed when working with other professionals, and there are things you can do to make sure you keep a positive reputation.  Since word travels fast in small towns (i.e the dance world), there are a few things you should know to keep your name spot-clean.  Get the inside scoop on how to establish and maintain working relationships in the dance industry below:

DO:

  • Take class regularly.  If you’re new to or already established in a big city, the best way to “be seen” in the dance world is to take class.  Not only are you meeting tons of people, but you get a chance to learn from and work with the best choreographers.  On top of that you’re honing your craft and growing as a dancer every day you walk into the studio.  Sounds like a winning combo to me!
  • Be patient grasshopper.  Your time will come.  The more you take classes, workshops, and work on projects, the more you’re setting yourself up for that big opportunity.  It may seem like things aren’t happening in the time you want it to, but be patient.  It’s not suppose to.  If you are consistently working, someone will notice.  It only takes one person, one gig to get the ball going.  So keep fighting.
  • Be professional.  Yes you have the moves, but can you manage your career in a professional manner, too?  This includes, showing up to rehearsals on time, picking up choreography fast, performing perfectly on stage in front of millions, and so on.  Your job as a dancer goes beyond the classroom.  Especially for those who don’t have an agent, the bigger concern is can you handle all that comes with being a working dancer?  Touring, auditioning, talking to directors – all these things can make or break your career.  So make sure you are prepared for everything.

Sometimes we have the dream but we are not ourselves ready for the dream. We have to grow to meet it.”

— Louis L’Amour

DON’T:

  • Walk up to a choreographer and ask to be in their next performance – especially if you don’t already have an established relationship with them.  This seems pretty obvious but you don’t know how many people I’ve witnessed come up to a choreographer and blurt out, “OMG, I love you.  Can I please be in your next piece?”  Not only do you look desperate, but a professional choreographer who’s been in the game for years, has seen the best of the best.  So let your moves do the talking, and prove your worth on the dance floor.
  • Let your flame extinguish.  Rejection is a part of the territory as a professional dancer.  If you want to be in the industry this is the first lesson you will learn.  But what you should also know is rejection should be the fuel to your fire.  Instead of letting the bad news wash over you, dimming your flame with each, “No,” let it strengthen your fight.  Keep striving for your dream, learning from each positive and negative experience along the way.
  • Get lazy.  Once you’ve established a relationship with other dancers and choreographers, it’s important to not get lazy.  Maintain a healthy workout schedule and diet, continue training and working on new skills, and prove why you deserve to have a spot on the next video the choreographer is working on.  There are new dancers everyday working for your job.  So I recommend working harder everyday, and don’t take anything for granted.

Quotes via Leadership Now

Cover photo via DanceWorks
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