Networking for Dancers
Hello again my working dancer friends. We've covered a lot of ground these past couple of months, from articles here on TheWorkingDancer.com, to our Sole Talk vids on YouTube, to connecting on social media. We've definitely got some momentum in our movement, and there's still so much more to discuss. Like this week's topic...networking.
Building a solid network of connections is essential to building a solid freelance career. While freelancers in other industries can network easily by attending a few mixers or conferences, networking for dancers is a whole other ball game.
Don't get me wrong. We can attend conferences to network too.
Regularly attending a Pulse on Tour or any of the numerous fabulous ongoing dance conventions is a great way to connect with other dancers and choreographers. The only problem is that there are literally hundreds of other dancers there likely doing the same thing. So it can be difficult to see any real connection building results unless you invest a lot of money to attend EVERY tour event.
Then what's the solution? What's an effective way for dancers to network?
Networking is vital in developing your professional dance career, and I've laid it all out in my upcoming book, The Freelance in Dance Road Map. The book outlines four key steps to getting work as well as a plethora of additional tips to help you along the way.
Don't worry. I won't leave you hanging. Here's a sneak preview of the section on networking:
Step 3: Take Classes Regularly
When it comes to developing your talent, training is essential. When it comes to developing contacts within a given field, networking is essential. But when it comes to building a professional dance career, training is networking, and both are essential.
Taking classes regularly is a main component of developing a successful performance career. I would even go so far as to call taking class one of your job duties. Not only are you learning to catch on to choreography quickly, or learning someone’s specific style, or possibly working on a number of other things, but you are also connecting to the dance community, which can benefit your career in a variety of ways.
In LA, when I finally got the memo that training was part of the job, I began taking classes regularly at The Edge, Millennium Dance Complex, and Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio. I attended a few classes at Debbie Reynolds weekly and soon came to know the students and choreographers quite well. There were times we’d even stop for froyo after class. The time I spent developing those connections were so valuable during my last few years in the game there.
Not only did I gain some great friendships, but I found those relationships to be beneficial to my career as well. I once attended an audition for one of Beyonce's projects, and one of the choreographers whose class I’d been taking weekly happened to be choreographing the project. I can’t say for certain that my connection with the choreographer alone was the reason I got two call backs for that project, but I can definitely say that it helped.
Developing relationships with choreographers does more than just help in auditions too. You could also book a job directly through your relationship with a choreographer without even having to audition. In my own work as a choreographer, I always call first dancers who I’ve moved with in class or on previous projects. I do this because I already know how they perform, whether or not they can deliver my style, and what type of attitude and work ethic they have. Even though I don’t teach ongoing classes at a studio, I still keep an eye out for dancers I know well before opening the opportunity up to the general dance community.
Taking class regularly also has other benefits aside from booking jobs. It personally helped me build confidence with auditioning and with performing in front of my peers. Because the dancers in my auditions were the same ones who were in my classes, auditions became a little less stressful for me. Performing well in class allowed me to trust more in my ability to perform well in auditions, and the familiar faces helped auditions feel a bit more like class.
From building friendships, to booking jobs, to gaining confidence, there’s plenty of reasons why you should get your bum in class pronto.
There you have it, the basics on networking for dancers. You'll have an opportunity to read more about it once the book is released early this summer.
Until then, there's one key principle I'd like you to takeaway from this article:
When it comes to building your dance career, training is networking.
So get your bum in class, and get your career in gear! Holla!
But before you go, let me give you a lil' somethin' somethin' to help you out. Click the button below to grab my #WorkingDancers Networking Playbook. This tool includes all the benefits of networking in class as discussed in this post, a section to set your own networking goals, and a calendar to keep up with your class schedule.
The button will prompt you to join my TWD-vip list, and once you submit the form, you'll have you playbook.