So as I sat and adored Doug Varone’s dancers last weekend, I found myself crying inside at the overwhelming thought of graduating in a year, and then having to find a job of my own.
So I work incredibly hard to get this degree, and then what? How do you become the offspring of a reputable choreographer? (offspring = company member) How do you become the offspring of Varone?!?!
When holding an open audition, there can be any number of dancers there with the same talent as you, ready to take the spot you’re positive has your name on it. So how do you stand apart and have a foot in the door before you’ve even left your couch? You show up to anything and everything available that could possibly get your face in theirs. Almost every success-story I’ve ever heard hasn’t come from match.com for dance, rather it comes from dancer-stalks-company (.com?)
We’ve talked about the importance of networking, and with enough visits to a summer intensive, technique class, or even at pre/post-performance discussion with desired choreographer, your face will become less anonymous when the time to shine against your no-name competition presents itself.
One of my professors, a former Trisha Brown ensemble dancer, said that before she joined the company, the dancers had a joke about how crazy she was because of her ability to be EVERYWHERE they were ALL THE TIME. Well guess what happened when a spot opened up in the company? Ms. Weight Sensing got it of course, and became a featured soloist. Not too shabby huh?
Now I’m literally just regurgitating what I’ve been told, I’m still sitting comfortably in my overworked-grad school environment, but in a year when I’m trying to put these words into action, I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune.
For my friends and dance family that’s graduating in just a few short weeks however, now’s the time to get your ducks in somewhat of a row; when it’s time to switch the tassel on your cap over to the adult-side, you’ll be a little more ready to start “making it work”.
Now I can only assume that like everything else in life, in order to be successful, you’ve got to really know what you want, and even more importantly, what you have to offer.
- What kind of movement feels good to you?
- What kind of movement do you look good doing?
- Who are the choreographers you’d be interested in working for?
- What are the peak times throughout the day that you function well? (Not all companies have rehearsal from 8-10am, which is ironically when I’d rather eat a foot than do anything remotely dance related—on the other side of the coin however, some companies don’t actually care…get your ass out of bed!)
- Where do you see yourself living?
- What kind of work (what hours) will you have to do to make money when you’re not dancing? Or rather, when you’re not doing whatever job makes the money, will you have the time to dance?
- What is your timeline? They say (They = Monica Bill Barnes) that most companies won’t take you too seriously unless you’ve been living in The City for at least two years; nobody wants to hire a dancer that’s about to pack up and move in 12 minutes because they can’t take city-life.
- What’s your definition of success? Anybody can go to NYC and call themselves a dance company, maybe working for anybody is all you need to decide that you’ve “made it”—and that’s okay with me if it’s okay with you.
Again, I haven’t (yet) had the opportunity to be a struggling artist out there in the real world, so all I can really offer is moral support and the advice from my highly successful professors that’s been offered to me. Conclusive evidence suggests that you should never ever underestimate the power of company-stalking, and that there’s no shame in aggressively going after what you want.
**While you’re still living on student loans and your parents’ health insurance, stock up on lots of extra glitter, it sounds like you’re going to need it**