The Secret to Keeping the Job and Getting More Work
Everyone wants to get the job, right? Everything we do - the training, the auditioning, the networking - is all to get more work.
And for many of us, getting more work is not just about the money either. For so many dancers, it really is about that feeling.
That feeling of being able to a do what you love. The performance highs. The feeling of accomplishment.
So we spend countless hours training, we plant ourselves in the dance community, and we face all kinds of rejection just so we can experience that feeling over and over again....oh, and get paid to do it as well.
Here's the thing, when you're first starting out, getting work is largely about your talent (and your look, depending on what career lane you're in). It's also about getting your name and face out there so people begin to know who you are and what you can do.
But once you've been working for a bit, getting work becomes about more than just how well you move. At a certain point, people will begin to talk about your talent AND your work ethic and attitude.
When your name comes up for a potential project, the conversation will go something like this...
"Let's see if (insert your name here) is available. She's amazing, and I love working with her. "
"I don't know about (insert your name here). She's great, but she's a diva, and she's flaky."
And just like that, you've either booked or lost another job based on your professionalism.
It's no secret that we love talking about professionalism and work ethic around The Working Dancer. We wrote a post about how to make lasting impressions, and we even dedicated an entire section to it in The Freelance Dancer's Roadmap.
The reason it's worth mentioning so often is that professionalism is not something that most people just know to develop. More often than not, folks need to be told what's expected of them.
The good news is that there are choreographers and directors who will verbalize their expectations for work ethic at the beginning of their rehearsal process. They'll let you know how they feel about punctuality and knowing the material, and you'll learn the nature of their personality as you move throughout rehearsals.
But what happens when expectations aren't expressed, or the production team isn't that personable or is hard to read?
If you find yourself in a situation like that, just follow all the general rules of professionalism.
- Arrive early to rehearsal so that you're warmed and ready to go at the start time.
- Review the material on your own before rehearsal so that you're well prepared.
- Communicate any schedule issues, conflicts, or emergencies immediately.
- RESPOND PROMPTLY when someone from the production team contacts you.
- Have a positive attitude, and be gracious to the production team and your cast mates.
Those are some basic guidelines to follow to develop a strong work ethic and positive work reputation.
Keeping those in mind will get you far, but here's the secret that will get you even further.
The issue that many dancers run into is that they make themselves bigger than the work when it should be the other way around.
Every project, story, opportunity is a living idea that can develop with or without you.
It's our job as performers to help tell the story, sell the product, or send the message. Even if you have a solo moment, IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.
Don't misunderstand what's being said here.
You are worthy, and should be respected and honored for the amazingly talented person that you are.
BUT...when it comes to working...it's not about how awesome you are. It's about coming together to make the project be very best that it can be.
All the issues arise when people lose sight of that very simple fact.
When you're on a job, you're in service to a project.
I know being on stage can make you feel like a rockstar, but know that the biggest stars are the ones who honor their work the most.
So, the secret is to put the project first.
This doesn't mean diminish your value or allow yourself to be treated poorly.
It means being your best so that the project can be its best. And when you work this way, people will remember you and will want to hire you for future projects.
Because when you honor the work, the work will always honor you in return.
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