My name is Shate´ Edwards, and I’m the Founder and CEO of The Working Dancer, an empowerment company with global reach and an inspirational movement for driven artists who want to build successful careers and lives on their own terms. As a choreographer, educator, and career writer, my mission is to help dreamers learn success principles so they can truly live the lives they imagine.
The Working Dancer is for the artist who is ready to stop relying on forces outside of themselves to determine their success and who, instead, is willing to take full responsibility for their dreams coming true by setting clear goals, being taught what they need to know, and then doing the work. Oh yeah, and they want to have an amazingly healthy mind, body, spirit, and personal life while they’re at it!
In 2014, I created The Working Dancer as a personal blog to answer the career questions of a few of my students. As I began to write about my experiences from moving to LA, to tanking in auditions, to creating a career that I loved, I began connecting with so many other creatives who were on the same path. Since then, The Working Dancer has grown into a beautiful movement of go-getters all over the world who are committed living their best lives!
Today, I am author of The Freelance Dancer’s Roadmap, How to Become a Boss on Beat, Dance Through Life with Joy!, and countless articles in publications such as Dance Magazine and Dance Mogul, among others. I host incredible online and in-person events, and I create engaging classes and other content to connect artists with the insight and inspiration they crave.
But my work didn’t always look like this.
I started with little money and absolutely NO clue about what I was doing. At times, I worked so hard that I neglected myself to the point of burn out. And I underestimated my voice and my value time and time again.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED…
I was born and raised in Houston, TX, and I’ve always been a performer.
At the age of three, I began creative movement classes with exposure to tap and ballet.
Since then, movement has been a part of every stage of my life.
I learned the foundations of great technique and work ethic when I joined my first jazz company at the age of 10 under the tutelage of the late, great Steven Boyd. It was at his studio that I also entered into several years of competitive dance where I and my teammates won countless awards.
With a loving “Mom-ager” in tow, I soon began performing everywhere: The Sammy Davis Jr. Awards, paid gigs for community events, weddings, etc. You name it, I was there…dancing.
When paying for my education became more important than paying for dance classes, I got my performance fix by being on step teams and cheerleading squads throughout high school.
TO PERFORMING IN COLLEGE…
I was blessed to attend my first choice school, Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The only catch is that since I had chosen not to pursue dance seriously in high school by sticking with a more traditional experience instead of the performing arts high school, my mother advised against me pursuing dance in college.
In fact, her exact words were something like, “Pick a major other than dance…and DON’T try out for the cheerleading squad.”
While I wasn’t a dance major, I couldn’t resist auditioning to become a cheerleader. So I did. I was a Morehouse College cheerleader all four years of college, and served as team captain my last two years.
I also performed every other chance I could. From freshman and sorority step teams to organized performances, I just couldn’t leave movement or performance alone.
After four of the best years of my life, I graduated with honors from Spelman College with a BA in Psychology on the pre-med track.
TO PURSUING A PROFESSIONAL DANCE CAREER…
After college, I decided to ditch the medical track I was on and move to LA to pursue a dance career instead.
I wanted to love my career and life, not just tolerate it.
That conversation with my parents wasn’t fun. There were lots of tears, but I kept moving forward with my plans, and they eventually came around, as they always do. My parents have always been my first audience, my most loyal fans, and my biggest support system.
Once in LA, I had no idea where to start, but I knew enough to follow my heart.
I eventually worked my way to finding the classes and choreographers that resonated with me.
I used my writing skills to develop a media kit, which I parlayed into a contract with MSA agency, one of the top talent agencies for dancers and choreographers.
I choreographed an industrial for Magic Johnson’s now non-existent clothing line, performed in countless shows, and made it to sooo many callbacks.
But at the end of the day, I was exhausted from my overnight job, frustrated at my slow moving progress, and just all around unhappy.
So I quit…
TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER THAT INCLUDES DANCE, EDUCATION, AND WRITING…
With the decision to quit my “barely-there” dance career, I also moved back to Houston to figure out my next steps.
What actually ended up happening was I finally got the rest I so desperately needed, started taking better care of myself, and then found my way back to a studio “for fun.”
Out of nowhere, I was working more as a professional dancer and choreographer in Houston than I ever had in Los Angeles. I was performing with companies, getting contracts to work overseas, choreographing theater productions, and more.
Soon after that, I started my first business, Arts Life Entertainment, where I tried to help artists gain more exposure for their work through showcases where they could both grow their audience and also sell their work.
That ended when I enrolled in a graduate program at Sam Houston State University where I earned a MFA in dance. It’s in grad school where I honed my artistic voice, learned how to produce every step of my own full length production, and found my passion for career development after TA-ing an undergrad course called Career Resources.
As I mentioned before, that experience made way for The Working Dancer.
After grad school, I served as a dance professor for several years in the Dallas area where I also continued choreographing for regional theaters. It was during this time that I got my first reviews for my work, calling me “a talent to watch” and my movement “alone worth the price of admission.”
During this time, I also wove The Working Dancer into my curriculum as a professor and continued developing more content to help as many artists as I could.
Since then, I’ve made my way back to my spirit city, Atlanta, Georgia, where I continue to choreograph, teach, write, and create content about personal and professional development. I’ve learned to continue investing in myself through books, courses, and coaches, and I’m always sharing what I’ve learned with my tribe.
As you can see, I didn’t always have things figured out. No one does.
What’s important to me is that I always tried, and I always took action.
I’ve made lots of mistakes and have cried more tears than I care to admit, but I’m still here. And I have a career and life that I absolutely adore.
And if you’re reading this right now – so can YOU!
- CONNECT WITH SHATE´ -
If you can relate to my story, then I invite you join our tribe, and learn more at the links below:
Read the Blog: https://www.theworkingdancer.com/blog
Listen to the Podcast:
Follow Us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theworkingdancer/
Like Us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theworkingdancer
SHATE´S OFFICIAL BIO
Shaté L. Edwards is a choreographer, educator, and writer. After graduating with honors from Spelman College, she performed extensively throughout the U.S. and China. Her work has been commissioned by performance companies throughout the country, and she has choreographed and produced dozens of productions including industrials, concerts, musicals, and more. Shaté recently served as assistant choreographer for Tony award winning Dallas Theater Center's and ATT Performing Art Center's production of Hairspray: The Broadway Musical. Critics have called her “a talent to watch” and her movement has been described as “alone worth the price of admission.”
Shaté is also a master instructor who’s taught thousands of students throughout the U.S. and abroad. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Sam Houston State University and spent several years serving as a dance professor. She is the author of The Freelance Dancer’s Roadmap as well as career articles published in Dance Magazine, The Dance Advantage, Dance! North Texas, and Dance Mogul.
Her work as a dance professor as well as the humble beginnings of her own career pursuit led to the founding of The Working Dancer. Through its content, products, and events, The Working Dancer empowers artists to build their career and lives on their own terms.