Author: Michelle Potterf, Chair, Dance Department, New York Film Academy
So what does it take to have a successful career in dance?
First and foremost, it is hard work and dedication. Professional dancers never get their break by being lazy. You have to dream big! But, you also have to put in hours of hard work.
You must be knowledgeable about your craft. We often think of dance as a purely physical art form. But, the best dancers are also smart dancers. You are often expected to pick up choreography quickly, reverse combinations and know time signatures in music. In addition to that, a dancer should learn about the history of dance and how each genre originated.
There are many different styles and schools of ballet; do you know the different schools of thought for each style? Who are the big legendary Broadway choreographers and what shows did they choreograph? What are the major differences between Broadway Style Tap dancing and the Rhythm Tap style? Knowledge is power and the more informed you are the better your chances of success.
You should also study as many different styles of dance as possible. Yes, you may focus on one specific dance genre but, it is important to be well versed in all different styles. Versatility is highly important in the field of dance. So, explore as many different genres and styles as possible. If you are specializing on one specific genre, exploring different ways your body can move will only help to improve your dancing in your specific genre.
When you leave school and begin your audition journey, you may attend several different auditions where the choreographer needs to see your ballet technique, a tap routine and a Hip hop dance all in one day. Therefore, make it your mission to study multiple genres of dance because the more well rounded you are as a dancer, the more employable you will be.
As a dancer your product is you! You must learn to market yourself. You will need a resume and a professional headshot as well as full body dancer photos. You should also develop a reel that showcases you as a dancer.
We are lucky to have great modern technology, so use it to your advantage by setting up a social media page that is dedicated to your life as a dancer. Network, Network, Network!!! Talking to co-workers, friends and family about your goals will help to spread the word of your aspirations to be a dancer. You never know where a connection could lead.
The life of a professional dancer is never easy but, the rewards are remarkable. If you can remember to always work hard, dream big and believe in yourself, you are well on your way to a career in dance.