Whether you're coming off the competition/convention circuit, graduating from college, or changing careers, navigating the commercial dance world is one that takes patience and endurance. In this post I compiled a list of tips that I wish someone told me when I first entered the industry. So here are the 5 things you need to know to start off your commercial dance career on the right foot:
Here are the top 5 tips for beginners entering the commercial dance industry:
Tip 1: Take the non paying jobs to add meat to your resume. If you're like most beginner dancers, chances are you don't have many professional credits on your resume or reel. For this reason, you may want to trade your dance services for professional content. However, when you take these non-paying jobs make sure they are worthy of your time and will benefit your career in some way without hinderances. Since these are non-union sets, be aware of potential work hazards and unfair treatment while on the job. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, don't be afraid to say no or speak up for yourself. Simply raise your concern to the choreographer on set and if they're a real one, they will make sure to accommodate you.
Tip 2: Take your time to train. It's imperative that you put in 10.000 hours of serious training before you can consider calling yourself a "professional" in any industry. As a commercial dancer you are responsible for executing many dance styles, so in the beginning take foundational classes like house, ballet, popping, vogue, heels, street jazz, lite feet, etc. The more versatile you are as a dancer, the more jobs you are capable of booking.
Tip 3: Network. Sounds easy enough but I can't stress enough how important it is to get your face out there and meet as many people as possible. The commercial dance industry is very small so it's built upon relationships and is all about who you know and who knows you. In order to build up your dancer "black book" I recommend going to class, supporting your peers at their events, attending dance concerts, going to music industry events, and dancing in as many shows/concept videos as possible.
Tip 4: Do your research. Before entering the commercial dance world it's important to show respect by knowing your history. Use your smart phone right now and google the history of different dance styles, choreographers, awards shows, directors, music videos, agencies, etc. This will help you learn who and what you're auditioning for so you're better prepared to win. Which leads me to my last tip...
Tip 5: Keep a dance journal. Get a notebook that's easy to carry with you and start journaling about your commercial dance experiences. This is where you can write out detailed goals, notes on classes and castings, notes on choreographers, agencies, casting directors, lists featuring your strengths and weaknesses, and anything else that you want to remember and look back on. One thing that's worked for me is keeping notes on auditions. I start by asking myself questions like who the choreographer was, song we danced to, choreography style, what I wore, did I book/get a call back, what did I do differently this time, etc. These memos to myself helps define what makes me marketable and successful.
I hope this helps you as you jumpstart your commercial dance career! Deciding to turn your passion into a career is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. But with the right advice and guidance you will smash your goals in no time. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.