Taking the First Step IS the First Step
Yep. You read it correctly. Taking the first step is the first step. Action. That's all it takes to officially start your dance career. Not sure what that means for you? Here are a few suggestions.
Figure out what type of dance career you're interested in pursuing. Do you want to be a performer? Choreographer? Professor? Lighting Designer? In Business? Other? Deciding which route you'd like to take will better help you know where to take your first step. If you're still not sure in which direction you're headed, that's okay too.
For a more specialized dance career, you may benefit from earning a degree. Consider a B.A., B.F.A., or even an advanced degree in dance. (We'll discuss degree options in a separate post.)
If higher education doesn't appeal to you, then you'll need to jump right into gaining work experience. For some dancers, that means saving up to relocate to a city like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Atlanta. However, you do NOT need to leave your hometown to create a successful dance career. I was able to make more money in my first year of working in my hometown of Houston than I did in all four years of my working in Los Angeles combined.
That means you can start exactly where you are. Find a local studio that offers a range of styles with quality instruction. I recommend mastering your current styles while also learning new ones. A diverse dancer definitely makes for a working dancer!
Once you're planted in a great studio, you may find opportunities to teach there as well. You can also look into local performance companies, both dance and theatre. Check around to see if there are mobile dance schools that need instructors to travel around the city teaching dance. Look into non-profits that need dance instructors for after school programs. Basically...consistently research the dance scene in your area, and become an active member of that community.
You need to make it known to your community and to the universe, that you are available to accept professional dance jobs. You'll slowly begin to grow your network, and before you know it, opportunities will seek you out instead of the other way around (Networking will also be covered in another post).
The moral of the story is simply to BEGIN. Take a step, and then another, and then another. In the beginning, you'll likely get more rejections than acceptances, and you'll invest plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. But the most important thing is that all the while, you'll be learning and evolving into a better dance professional and person, and you'll officially be on your journey to becoming a working dancer.
And lastly, don't get so caught up in the destination that you forget enjoy the ride.
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