How to Get a Headshot

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A professional headshot is essential to getting jobs as a dancer. Make sure to get one that looks natural and like YOU. Most people choose black and white, but some choose color. An 8 X 10 glossy is the standard size for prints.

1) Consult professional dancers, models or dance agencies in your area and find out which photographers they recommend. Do your research, look around.

2) Call several different photographers, and ask them these questions: What is the price for getting headshots done? Does that price include hair and makeup? The average price of headshots is around $75 to $150. This can vary according to the area.

3) Look at portfolios: some photographers have examples of their work or full portfolios online. Otherwise set an appointment to visit the photographer and see their portfolio.

4) Talk with the photographer to see if you feel comfortable with them and like their style. Being relaxed and comfortable is important and will come across in your photos.

5) Make sure the photographer has pictures of people with similar characteristics as you: Do they work with dancers? People your age? Make sure that they have a money back guarantee if there is a problem with the shoot, such as lighting or development. They will not re-shoot if you simply don’t like the photos.

6) Check the photographer’s references.

7) Select a photographer and make an appointment. Allow around two hours if you will have hair and makeup done there. The shoot might only take a half an hour if you are getting your makeup done elsewhere. Make sure to arrive about 15 minutes early to the studio the day of your shoot.

8) Bring makeup and hair products for touchups and bring several changes of clothing. You might want to bring one top that is more professional and one that is casual. Ask the photographer for subjections. Avoid anything that is busy, such as patterns; try to choose something that is plain.

9) Never go to a shoot that is in a remote location on in an apartment alone. Be cautious and safe.

10) Have fun at the shoot! Be relaxed and confident. Don’t force your smile. You might want to try some smiling and some not smiling. Whatever you do, look engaged. You should print one non- smiling and one smiling headshot for different auditions. Think of the mood/tone of what you are auditioning for and choose which headshot accordingly.

11) The photographer will likely print proofs for you to choose from. Some photographer that use digital cameras can have this done right away. Some use a website that you view your photos on and make a selection.

12) You will want to have your resume printed on the back of your photos, or staple it on for auditions.

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Dancers Seeking Agents: The Right Way to Apply

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by Johanna Orca Handyside

As a dancer, your cover letter and résumé are lived and written every day and in each performance. Your appearance and style speak volumes about your personality without uttering a word, and your dance technique and fluidity are manifestations of your training and experience. However, there comes a day when this animated application to greatness needs to be set down on paper, and the day you decide to find a dance agent is that day. Dance agents ultimately look for a fit pair of fleet feet when deciding who to sign, but the first thing they will see when you ask for their representation is your cover letter.

Cover Your Bases
The name says it all: The purpose of a cover letter is to briefly cover why you are applying to a certain agent and why he or she should be interested in you. Opening the door to your professional dance career often starts with a stand out cover letter. If you have a recommendation to a certain agent from a teacher, choreographer, or experienced dancer who has a memorable relationship with him or her, make note of it in your cover letter. Also, include how you found out about the agent who you are applying to and add information on any projects that you will be involved in in the future. There is no perfect formula for extracting your essence and putting it on paper, but keep in mind that the main focus of a cover letter is essentially to convey who you are and how you can be a strong representative for the agent to whom you are applying. Just stay honest and real, and you can’t go wrong.

Résumé Please
In an interview with Dale Grover on, Julie McDonald, the creator of L.A.’s first dance agency, unsurprisingly says that dance agents “look for training on the résumé” when considering the complete dance package. But beginning dancers, do not fear. Agents are realistic about their expectations, and they know that professional credentials are not often found on a beginner’s résumé. Stay honest about your dance experience and put in any extra training, workshops, school plays, or other dance related experiences to show how youhave been working towards your dance goals. McDonald also notes that “gymnastics, roller blading, martial arts, stilt dancing, basketball, musicalinstruments, tumbling… those things are used all the time” as special talents in many a dancer’s résumé.

A well-stacked résumé doesn’t always translate into a well-received one. A cluttered résumé that is trying too hard can have the opposite effect from what you intend. Stick the clean-up crew on your résumé before submitting it and get rid of any unnecessary or irrelevant details. Stay with a reader-friendly font size and format so that agents can quickly scan over what you have to offer and pick
up on your gems of experience that may be otherwise hidden in a jumbled résumé. The more visual ease your résumé has, the better are the chances that it will be read and fairly considered.

To Picture or Not to Picture It
Different agencies have different photo preferences, and until you’ve signed with one of them there is no need to spend a lot of money on a professional 8″x10.” Your résumé is the true substance of your submission that agents will ultimately reach for. However, some believe and some agencies ask that you send a photo in with your dance agent application. Some agencies suggest sending in current three quarter shots along with your submission. If this is the route you choose to take make sure that your photo is a true representation of yourself and one that you are happy with. Do not submit anything that you are less than ecstatic about.

With several seconds and some choice words as the only instruments to help you orchestrate your first impression, you want to put your best cover letter and résumé forward. As you expect perfection in your performances, you should expect the same from these key pieces of paperwork that can mean the difference between a call back and a resubmission. Be truthful and censoriously comprehensive, go over your paperwork with a fine tooth comb, and let your personality shine though. Your dancing will do all of the talking once your cover letter and résumé get your soon-to-be agent to pick up the phone.

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