Professional Paths

Careeres After DanceDespite a lifelong dream of performing on stage night after night, the hard reality for dancers is you may not fulfil this. This can be for a number of reasons, whether you are injured or are simply feel drawn to another lifestyle. After maintaining these dreams, and even a stint of performing, there are a number of potential options you may wish to pursue. Dancers are resourceful and disciplined, having gained a number of relevant and useful skills during training and performing.

You may wish to become a choreographer or director, or even a casting director, having the last say in who performs what and when. Your dance knowledge is integral to your craft and the industry, so this is often a natural step for professional dancers. You may even want to step behind the scenes entirely, and become part of the wardrobe, stage management or part of the production crew for a theatre or company. Roles like lighting and set are also appealing to ex-performers, as they have an innate knowledge and sixth sense of the theatre; it is an equally artistic pursuit with creative fulfilment.

Remaining in the office might be more suitable to other professional dancers: management and administration are essential to dance companies and organisations through a number of roles, ensuring the companies make it into the stage and the audience make it into their seats. Other dance and arts institutions also need arts administration to ensure they run smoothly, from marketing and finance to programming, in organisations such as theatres, dance foundations and museums.

If you still yearn for physical pursuits, you may be more suited to roles such as a Pilates or yoga teacher – which complement dance training – or a massage therapist to help people to relax and restore their bodies. Alternatively you may become a fitness instructor or personal trainer, with some extra training. If you don’t want to give up the physicality of your career, fitness is an excellent alternative avenue, with dance based fitness classes rising in popularity. Simply teaching dance, however, is also just as fulfilling in passing your knowledge on to a future generation.

CDET’s Dance Careers Conference

CDETTaking place on 10th May, CDET’s Dance Careers Conference is not an event in the dance calendar to be missed. Hosted at Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham, the event offers a unique and informative one-day event providing high-quality, relevant and up-to-date information and guidance about further education, training and career opportunities in the dance and musical theatre industries.

Three bespoke strands will run independently through out the whole day. Students will each receive a ballet, jazz and musical theatre class, and gain an insight into what it is like to audition for a vocational college. They will also have the opportunity to take part in seminars providing them with information on choosing a course and college, as well as the audition process involved. Parents and carers’ seminars will include information on how to choose a vocational school, the different qualifications on offer, as well as auditioning, funding and careers information after training.

Additionally, teachers will be able to engage in technique class, often a rarity for busy teachers with hectic class schedules! Sessions focusing on how to create solos for student auditions will be held, as well as seminars on how to advise students when they are in the process of choosing a professional training school. Numerous industry professionals will also be involved with the busy conference, hosting sessions on building a dance business and how to market dance schools.

As with MOVE IT – the annual dance exhibition at London’s Olympia – a number of CDET Accredited Schools will be present to talk to attendees during the conference. These include Urdang Academy, Performers College, Northern Ballet School, Liverpool Theatre School, Bird College, Laine Theatre Arts, Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, Cambridge Performing Arts, LIPA, The Centre Performing Arts College, London Studio Centre, Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama, Hammond School and Elmhurst School for Dance.

Your Next Dance Steps

Next Dance StepsAfter years of dance study you’re enrolled on a dance programme! Your goal may to become a professional dancer, to teach or study dance further, so make sure you work hard and dedicate yourself to your studies.

Keep an open mind and be willing to try something new. Your teachers will come with years of higher education teaching experience in addition to their work as dancers and choreographers, and they will use those skills to challenge your perceptions: think about the body, technique, and even what dance is in a totally different way. Let yourself be pushed to becoming the best possible student you can be. There are lots of different ideas out there!

Make sure you take care of your body, and this can be challenging to ensure you stay healthy. If you’re using food services on campus, try to choose nutritious options whenever possible, or even better, teach yourself how to cook! Depending on your previous training, this may be the most dancing you’ve ever had to do, so now is not the time to deprive your body of the nutrition and fuel it needs to perform at a high level. Get enough sleep to avoid injury, illness and anxiety.

Remember all the different options available: a dance career requires years of hard work and your college experience may confirm your commitment to dance, or it may transform your dream in other ways. You might find an interest in choreography, stage production, writing, or even dance therapy. Explore lots of interests and be open to learning how dance can impact other areas of your life.

And don’t forget to plan for your future! It can be easy to forget that there is an outside world you’ll have to re-enter after you graduate. Your teachers may even be able recommend summer programmes or internships to help you meet your goals, and they might be able to connect you with professionals in the field.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Agent Searching

Finding An AgentIn both the musical theatre and acting industries – in fact, any of the performing arts – securing an agent can be tricky, and almost as difficult as securing jobs! Some graduates from performing colleges leave with agents already secured; most of these are the agency that works alongside the institution and the graduates are automatically added to their books. Other instances of securing agents upon graduation is a direct result of the students inviting agents to their final college showcases, and being taken on that way.

If neither of these ventures are fruitful, it means an agent must be secured outside of the institution and post-graduation. It is something that must be done in order to be put forward for appropriate jobs, giving more chance of securing the job. Some performers do work unrepresented, however it is useful to have that other person talking and negotiating in their behalf. An agent will have more of an idea of the types of auditions and work opportunities that are suited to you, and will have more chance of getting you in the audition room.

It is important to do your research when it comes to agents, and often recommendation from friends and peers are a good basis to go on when approaching agents for the first time. Make sure you check which performers the agent already represents and think carefully about your training, skills and experience, and what would be best for you. It is important to contact agents that suit your skill level, and as a result the agent can attract castings and work opportunities that suit you.

It may take time to secure the agent you would like to represent you, and sometimes plans do not work out. However it is important to be open as you might find a different agent who suits you better.