How to Find the Dance Jobs You Actually Want
When it comes to dance jobs, I've done it all. And when I say dance jobs, I mean actual projects or jobs for which I was paid. Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of experience and exposure only jobs when I was first starting out. But when I really got serious about only accepting dance jobs to make up my salary, I worked almost everywhere. My list sorta looks like this (in no particular order): after school programs, enrichment programs for private schools and even social services group homes, dance studio instructor, dance studio front desk, summer theater camps, summer dance camps, instructor for city health and fitness program, performer for corporate events, model/dancer for special events, choreographing theater productions, dancer in musical revue show, guest instructor and performer in Shanghai, instructor for mobile dance studio, arts event producer, dancer for Latin band, high school dance team choreographer, judge for auditions, adjudicator for dance festival, performer in a samba company, dance professor.
It's possible that I may have forgotten a job or two, but you get the gist, right? I've done just about everything. Sometimes by choice, and other times out of necessity.
To this day, one of my most significant success stories of my dance career was the first year I was able to fully support myself on my dance jobs alone. While I may not have even broke the $10,000 mark that year, I made it by solely doing what I love to do. It mattered so much to me because I remembered (and still do) working random corporate jobs that I didn't enjoy, all the while wishing that I could just dance.
Supporting myself fully on my dance work, even if it was with less than $10k (living at home and having already paid off my car obviously helped here), meant that my dreams were actually coming true. Also, in my mind, I had nowhere to go but up.
Creating a dance career is definitely not your cookie cutter career where you enroll in a training program and are guaranteed a job with a salary and benefits upon completion. Instead, choosing a dance career affords you the opportunity to create the life and jobs you want.
Doing this requires plenty of diligence, hard work, and persistence. While you may stumble across a few opportunities on major job search engines, finding dance jobs entails a bit of digging deeper.
Here are a few suggestions on where to start your search:
- Even though the opportunities aren't always ideal, or they are few and far between, I'd still start my search on one of the major job search sites, like Indeed, just to see what they have to offer. Be sure to research the employer before blindly submitting to their posting. You want to make sure the job is a good match for you.
- Check your local dance or arts organization websites. Many cities have non-profit organizations that offer a classifieds page with studio, dance retailer, and other dance job listings. For instance, Houston has ArtsHound and The Dance Source, and Dallas has North Texas Dance Council. Check around to see what your city has to offer.
- Consider where you'd like to work, and search their website for openings. If there aren't any open positions, submit your materials to them anyways to let them know you're available (you will need a professional resume, professional looking picture or headshot, and a well written email that acts as a cover letter for this to be effective.) I've sent countless emails soliciting work. While many of them go unreturned, some of my most treasured projects have come from a simple email that I sent (including the opportunity I had to choreograph the critically acclaimed production of The Color Purple - The Musical at Jubilee Theatre.)
While this isn't an exhaustive list, it is definitely a great place to start. I acquired a large percentage of my dance work using the methods mentioned above. The remaining jobs were secured by old fashioned auditioning and networking, which I'll discuss in future posts.
At any rate, starting with the above list will at least get you into taking action, which is half the battle. Get started on your search, and you'll be a working dancer before you know it.
Leave a comment letting us know what methods have worked for you.
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