Self-Marketing for Dancers

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By Sara Willcutt

1) Start with a Dance Resume
Your dance resume should highlight your experiences and accomplishments in order to foster your current dance goals.

The resume will include a cover letter, photos, reviews if you have them, references and for some a video.

Your resume is your advertisement to choreographers or dance company directors.

Do not make your resume an autobiography or list every performance you have ever been in. Try to keep your resume to one page. This may mean that you can’t put down everything. This is where you need to make choices and think about what job you are auditioning or applying for.

Your resume is important and it can set you apart form others.

2) Take Your Time and Do Your Best
Your resume needs to be perfect; getting a job could depend on it. You should make sure your resume is updated and that you always have someone proofread it to check for any errors. If you resume is sloppy, full of errors or confusing, it might imply that you are not motivated to do your best.

A clean well-written resume can give potential employers confidence that you pay attention to details and are professional and serious about your dance career.

3) Do Your Research
Before you create or update your dance resume, be sure to research the company or groups that will be looking at it. This can allow you to personalize your resume and cover letter to be more effective. Make sure you spell the director’s name correctly. Find out where the director has danced and studied. Find out the name of the artistic director.

To Do Your Research:

  • Look in the ASD Dance Directory find links to dance company web sites.
  • Look at Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit magazine to find articles about particular companies.
  • Look for reviews done in the New York Times.
  • Search the company name on big search engines like Google and Bing to see what comes up. You can also search the director’s name.
  • Go to the library and look at Stern’s Performing Arts Directory, which is most likely in your local library. It lists every Dance Company, their addresses and phone number.
  • Look at Cyber Dancer Page which is linked to many dance sites.

4) Make Contact
Call your target companies and ask to talk with the person in charge of public relations. Tell them that you are a dancer that is interested in auditioning for the company. Ask for information on their repertoire for the past five years and the repertoire the company intends to dance this season. Ask where the company is planning to tour, for the director’s biography and to whom you should send your audition materials. Offer your e-mail address so that it might be easier for them to e-mail rather that mail you information.

Try to find a member or former member of your target companies to talk with. You might find them through a find or some contact information on the companies’ website. Ask them questions such as:

•   Who teaches at rehearsals?
•   What are the rehearsals like?
•   What is the director like?
•   How are the dancers treated?
•   What is the range of salaries?
•   What time of year do the dancers return their letters of intent?

A letter of intent is a letter from the artistic director indicating his intent to continue working with a dancer for the next season. The directors then know how many contracts must be filled.

The best time to send your resume to an artistic is when he or she learns that a new dancer or dancers are needed.

Doing research like this means that you are not only prepared to write your best and most targeted resume, but you will also learn about the companies you are
interested in. You may discover that you are excited about a company, or you may find that it wouldn’t the right place for you. You can save a lot of time and energy by only auditioning for companies that would work out for you if you become a part of them.

Doing your research shows how much you care about the audition and that you are serious. Finding connections with directors and artistic directors is priceless.

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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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How to Write a Dance Resume

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By Sara Willcutt

Your resume is the most important part of your audition package. A neat and organized resume will help you stand out. Many dancers clutter their resumes with too much information. Your resume needs to be focused and tailored to the specific job you are applying or auditioning for. Dance companies get hundreds of resumes and are overwhelmed with prospective dancers. Give yourself the best chance you can by having a professional looking resume.

What to Include:

  1. Name, address and phone number
  2. Date of birth, weight and height
    • This is specific to audition resumes. If applying for a teaching or other job, this is unnecessary.
    • Round height to the nearest full inch.
  3. Citizenship
  4. List dance companies you have worked with
  5. List any featured roles
    • Include the names of ballets or shows and the choreographers.
    • If you have been in many shows, only include featured roles.
    • If you have little experience, include all you have.
  6. Dance education
    • This includes all dance training you have had. List education, start with the most recent and work backwards in time.
    • The more professional experience you have the less important the section on education becomes. If you are young and have little performance experience make sure to include all your training. If you received a scholarship, be sure to include that as well.
    • Include small workshops or brief training in different styles only if it applies to the position or company you are applying for.
  7. Honors and awards
    • In this section, include all honors you have received, high placements at competitions, special individual awards, etc.
    • If you have lots to list, choose according to the relevance of the job or company you are applying for.

Depending on Target Position, Include:

    1. Acting experience
      • Be sure to include this information if you are auditioning for a part in a musical.
    2. Modeling experience
      • Some groups such as professional dance teams will want your modeling experience listed.
    3. Choreographic work
      • Some groups such as modern dance companies that use improvisation like this sort of experience.
      • Ballet companies may not be interested in this information.
    4. Musical training
      • Include this information only if you have extensive training and you have space to fill on your page.
    5. References
        • It is best to include references on a separate page or in your cover letter.
        • Only include them on your resume if the reference has a direct connection to the director you hope to work with.

Do Not Include:

      1. The word resume: that is a given.
      2. Do not include anything negative.
        • This is your place to highlight all the good things about yourself and your dancing. Don’t mention your reason for leaving previous companies if it is negative. This information might be asked of you in an application but is not something you should include on your resume. If you are asked this, you can simply say you wanted to go in a different direction or try something new.
      3. Hair and eye color
      4. Salary requirements
        • A resume is not the place to start salary negotiation. This can limit you chances of getting a job. Once a director has offered you a contract, you can start talking about salary. You will want to talk to the general manager about this.

Best of the Best: What Can You Do for the Company?

You have done your research on the company that you want to work with. Now, you need to tailor your resume to show how you fit the needs of this company. You want to find common connections with the target director and your training or performance experience. Show the relevant information that relates to a specific job and how you would be an asset if hired.

State what you can do for the company. You can include in your resume the position that you are looking for. If you would be willing to take an apprentice or swing position, state that as well.

If you have seen the artistic directors choreographic works before you can mention that in your cover letter.

Get Started

Identify the companies or positions you want.

Do your research on these to qualify if they would be a good fit and know what they are looking for.

Create a list of your experience to draw from while writing your resume. It can be helpful to write down everything because you will want to highlight different experiences according to the company or position you are applying for.


All your performance experience.

All the companies you have worked for.

All your dance education: studios, schools, workshops, training programs etc.

Stage and film acting experience.

Anyone you have worked with that knows your target director.

All awards and scholarships received.

Where applicable: look at the repertoire of the companies you are applying with and note any works that you have performed.

If your goal is to be a professional performer, you will need to go on lots of auditions, get your resume turned in to lots of companies and get your name out there. By attending classes, you will grow as a dancer as well as network. Many choreographers teach as well. If you want to work with a specific choreographer, try to take a class with them. Many dance companies have schools as well, take classes there!

If money is an issue, look into work study. Some studios offer scholarships or work study opportunities. If you are working with a company to take classes, you not only get classes and networking, but you will also learn about the behind the scenes work.

Work with renowned choreographers or instructors.

Identify similarities with schools and choreographers the company or director has worked with. Use this information to establish a connection which will make you more memorable.

Choose Your Format

There are many ways to organize your resume. The most important thing is to tailor each particular resume to the job you are applying for. Think about the position you want: choreographer, teacher, performer, etc. You resume should start with the most relevant information. If applying for a teaching position, highlight your teaching and leadership experience as well as your dance education. Also note that you need only include information about weight, height and age if you are applying for some type of performance job.

You can also think about details such as the type of font, the size of the text and the color of the paper.

There are two main was to organize your resume:
– The chronological method
– The functional method

Choose the method that best reflects your background and the interest of a potential employer. A functional resume would be good from a dancer with little performance experience that highlights skills rather than work history.

The Chronological Method

This method lists your work history in order. It is widely used, easy to organize and easy to read. This will show a strong work history in an organized way. Usually the order of the list starts with your most recent work at the top and then works down the page with previous work.

Use this method to highlight dates you have worked and choreographers and companies you have worked with.

The Functional Method

If you have little work background, are young, started dancing late or don’t have a strong background of performance, the functional method will work best. This way you can highlight your skills and not your lack of experience.

Where you have danced is more important than the dates. For this reason, you can put the dates on the end of a line on the right side of the page or omit them entirely, by using the functional method.

The main difference between the functional method and the chronological one is that with the functional resume the work history section is not included. This can work well for young dancers who have just graduated. However, this method can be used by anyone. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve.

This method will give you complete control over how you present yourself. You can highlight relevant experience or skills at the top.

The disadvantage of using this method is that it can create suspicion about lack of information.

When using the functional method, it is effective to write in the third person.

The Best of Both Worlds

You can combine the two methods to create your desired result. You can highlight when and where you have worked without strict guidelines or the need to simply list your work history in order. This can be a great way to organize your resume.

It will be helpful for your future resume writing and updating to keep a running chronological listing of your training and experiences. This is something you can draw from when you need to update a resume or write one that is very different from others you have done.

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