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business

Are NFTs here to revolutionise ART distribution and trading?

Selling and distributing art has always been a pain in the ass, but blockchain offers a potential solution with NFTs – which stands for Non-Fungible Token. Imagine being able to sell your piece of work, which can be everything that you can bring into the digital space, immediately and worldwide with 100% proof of who created it, who bought and therefore owns it, and built-in mechanics to collect royalties if it is resold. That is the concept behind NFTs.

How does it work?

A blockchain is a list of transactions. When you create an NFT, you summon a token that represents your work in the digital space. This token has a smart contract attached. A smart contract is just a fancy term for a code (a programme) that handles the sales and ownership. If someone buys the work, ownership is transferred (as if you would buy a painting). But the blockchain will forever show that you are the creator. Suppose the new owner decides to sell it again. In that case, the smart contract will automatically send a % of the resell price – defined in the smart contract – to you. No intermediaries needed.

Is it really that easy to use NFTs?

Honestly, not yet. NFTs are slowly drifting into the mainstream, and everyone who gets on board now can be considered an early adopter. Not super early, but still. If you want to use them now, you need to be a little bit tech-savvy and interested in how these things work. 

At the moment, NFTs are priced and bought in cryptocurrency. This will likely remain the status quo for a while. But with the rise of NFTs, there will be apps and service providers that will make it easy for everyone to enter the NFT space.

I suggest you get on-board immediately, but I understand if you want to watch the space first. Just don’t sleep on it and miss a potential opportunity that could unleash your work. Early adopters are always the ones who profited most when “their” tech goes mainstream.

My experiences with NFTs

I tried it and created my own NFT. As I can’t record a more significant dance piece right now, I went with a comic that speaks to the crypto-community. I am not a painter myself, so I commissioned the piece. Setting up the contract was a matter of 30 minutes, but I already had a crypto-wallet ready for use.

Until now, I did not run into any issues technically. I am currently promoting the piece on Twitter around crypto-folks and hope someone buys it.

It cost me around 0,17 ETH (which is EUR 230 at the moment of this writing), including the artwork itself and the fees to set up the smart contract.

As my intent is not selling but getting my head around how it works, I priced the token relatively high for what it offers. If someone buys – nice, if not – I have a token that predicts the future of cryptocurrency, created in 2021 – before the whole world started talking about NFTs.

In case you are interested, here is my NFT “A Taste of Things To Come.”

Categories
business

What makes a professional dancer?

I write a lot about the work and life of a professional dancer. Recently someone asks me when I consider someone to be a professional dancer. Good question. Let’s check it out.

What is a professional dancer?

When we look at the words’ definition only, we conclude that a professional dancer is someone who earns his money with dancing. That’s it if we are looking into terminology and what I use to determine if someone is a pro.

What we associate with the word professional

The word professional is loaded with a lot of meaning that is not really part of the package. Here is a list of things:

  • better than amateurs
  • always on time
  • know exactly what they do
  • always available for serious work
  • do everything as long as you pay them
  • comes prepared
  • knows how to behave

And the list goes on. All of these can be true but don’t have to be.

There is also a difference in the mindset between two kinds of people who do business with dance. As much as I’d love to avoid this distinction, it often comes back to me in the form of “but he is not a professional dancer” or something that rhymes with it.

The professional dancer and the dance entrepreneur

You can be both, but most peeps aren’t. The regular professional dancers focus absolutely on their craft – the dance. They perform, teach and compete. That is the lifestyle that we love and surrounds the dance when you look at it outside the dance world.

The dance entrepreneurs dance as well, but they look for opportunities outside the dance as well to nurture their business. This can be the addition of work that synergizes with dance or doing jobs where knowing dance is a prerequisite. These could be social influencers, event promoters, corporate consultants, creatives, or health service providers who specialize in dance topics.

When I talk about the dance business, I usually speak about both of those and I would be happy if we would not need to separate those two.

The detail that makes all the difference

For many professional dancers, the perceived challenge is merely finding and doing more dance jobs. They care a lot about the question, “how can I get more dance jobs?” Whatever answer we find to that question is not the answer to building a sustainable and secure lifestyle around dance.

There are 2 particular reasons:

  1. As long as we look for jobs created by others, we are manoeuvring ourselves deeper into dependency and into a territory of pseudo-employment. 
  2. If our only income source is the jobs we can do, we have a serious issue if we can’t do these jobs anymore. Injuries, government-regulations, loss of interest of the corporations giving us those gigs, … you name it. Almost everyone in dance knows someone who had to quit due to injuries. We can feel the pain of government regulations as a response to the pandemic right now. So this threat is real.

As an entrepreneur, you know about the importance of having multiple streams of income. Independence is the game, as is getting rid of middle-men where possible. This does not mean we can not do gigs with companies or dance paid shows with others. Both are significant parts of almost every dance business I know. The difference is that we don’t want to depend on them and have enough to offer on our own.

Then dance entrepreneur looks for additional ways to offer value and earn money. It is not important which kind you are, as long as you love what you do and feel secure enough. But when you feel the pain of uncertainty and the need for more stability, try to find additional income sources that synergize with what you do. Because you are leaving money behind and make your life harder than it needs to be.

Categories
blog business

Why you should quit the shitty job you hate

Many people who dance entertain the thought of becoming a professional dancer. If you are working in a job that you don’t like or even despise, you should give it a shot. Here is why.

A job you hate is bad for your soul.

The headline is dramatic, I know, but so is the emotional impact of slaving away at work if you don’t care about it. Deep down, you think that the work you do is not worth doing. You know that there is something more fulfilling or even meaningful for you. If you don’t act on that, some of you (probably your subconsciousness – but I’m no psychologist so take the details with a grain of salt) will tell you that you are a loser, a slave or worse.

To lead a fulfilled life, you need to have the whole you on the team, not a part of you throwing punchlines to your head all the time. Trust me, I have been there, felt that, have quit the job and now life is better.

External stress

Deadlines can be a catalyst for good work if you care about what you do. If you don’t, deadlines create unnecessary and unhealthy stress. Most jobs nowadays consist of holding multiple deadlines a week.

Someone else defines that what you do is urgent, but you disagree because it is simply not important.

Living a life, you don’t care about

If you don’t care for the work you do and are working a regular 9 to 5, you spent most of your life sleeping and doing stuff you don’t care about.

That’s one of the things you should read again.

You can simply test out the waters.

There is no need to quit your job immediately if you feel that dance is calling for you. Start it as a side-hustle and see if you can earn some extra money. If you can, slowly decrease your regular work and increase your dance biz.

The good thing is: if you find out, dance is not for you, you can just quit the side-hustle or go back to a regular job. The commitment is not eternal.

Job security is a lie.

With any given crisis, you can lose your “secure” job as well. So there is no need to pretend it is more secure than doing what you love.

Build your vision

You either build your vision or help someone else build theirs. So you always help to make something. What reason is there to help to create something you don’t identify with. What reason is there to slave away in a job you hate?

You owe it to yourself.

You should treat yourself with enough respect to a least try doing something you love. You don’t want to look back at your life and wonder “what if I had become a pro dancer”, do you?

Categories
business dance espresso

How to maintain a great signal to noise ratio?

When we talk about marketing, one of the things we should be aware of is our Signal/Noise ratio. The metaphor refers to a technical issue from analog radio broadcasts. When you communicate via radio, you have to listen on the same frequency as the sender is broadcasting and vice versa. If you are slightly off the frequency, you hear the broadcast but with a lot of hisses. If you are far away from the frequency you receive either only hiss, aka noise, or another signal (that you are not looking for).

Let’s grab a Dance Espresso over that topic:

What does Signal/Noise ration mean as a metaphor?

In times of social media, we all broadcast continuously with our posts, likes, shares, tweets, and whatever. If we are smart with our marketing strategy, and if we know our goals and artist identity, we aspire to send a lot of signal, while avoiding to add noise. Signal would be everything that aligns with our purposes, the message we want to spread, and the thing we want to be associated with. Noise is everything that has nothing to do with our signal or even distracts from it.

An example: when we want to spread a message about dancing, choreographing, and traveling the world, everything that is about our dancing and seeing exciting places works as a signal. But posting our daily coffee is a distraction, as are videos from our cats. Those two would be adding noise.

Who defines what noise is?

You do. Only you decide what it is that you want to “broadcast” to the world. It’s not essential what you send out if you only have a private channel and want to connect with friends. But as soon as your social media channels are part of your business, defining and sticking to your signal matters. It’s part of your promise to the world.

How much noise is fine?

Again, that is a question that only you can answer. It depends heavily on what strategy you have to connect with your followers. Noise is everywhere on the frequency spectrum, so it might help you to reach people you might not reach without it. But noise also waters down the value of your broadcast for everyone who is looking for your signal. As a rule of thumb: When you want to be perceived as an expert in your field and it is a niche, keep the noise level low. If you want to reach a broad audience, the noise percentage can be higher. If it’s not possible to differentiate between signal and noise, the noise is too high.

When I released my first book Dance Smart, I dived a little bit more into marketing and therefore stumbled upon this topic. While I am did a pretty good job with my Signal/Noise ratio on the blog, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Signal/Noise ratios sucked. I gradually improved that over 2020 but I am still not there

Categories
business

How brutal honesty improves your artistic growth

Brutal honesty sounds like an evil thing. But in reality, it is a state of mind that will calibrate your expectations and help you to plan your next steps more accurate, which will lead to faster growth in your art, business and character.

Honesty is telling the truth to ourselves and others. Integrity is living that truth.

Kenneth H. Blanchard

Unrealistic self-talk is sabotage

Sadly, I know too many people who have an unrealistic image of their capabilities and skills. This issue goes both ways and is rarely a matter of the wrong point of view. We have those who think they are really good or even exceptional at something, while barely scratching the surface. On the other hand, some people don’t trust their skills enough and put themselves down while doing outstanding work.

Both of these extremes are unhealthy for the development of your craft and character. Being able to execute ten footwork steps with two different rhythms does not make one good at footwork. It means you should invest more time into it, to make it out of beginner territory. And doubting your performance abilities, when your dance reaches strangers emotionally is stupid as well. If you can do that, develop it further and be proud that you can have such an impact on stage.

Brutal honesty only hurts in the short-term

When you are honest with yourself and admit weaknesses, you can build a path of action based on a realistic starting point. This will lead to much faster results, than plotting your journey from a moment you did not even reach yet. 

You might feel uncomfortable by accepting that you are not as advanced as you are in a particular field. Still, the immediate improvement of your onwards journey, due to realistic expectations, will make up for it and bring you to a much brighter place in the long game.

Also, you decide how harsh or gentle your self-talk is. Honesty is not related to the tone of voice you apply.

You don't need a crystal ball to map out your future, being brutally honest about your starting point, will do as well.
photo: Tomas Kirvėla via Scopio

Brutal honesty is not the enemy of affirmations or self-motivation

When you are realistic about your situation, there is nothing wrong in positive self-talk and affirming yourself that you can achieve something. The step from self-delusion to trying to motivate yourself to do better is in knowing your current situation. Affirmations should help yourself to believe you can achieve something, not to cloud your judgment.

Honesty is often very hard. The truth is often painful. But the freedom it can bring is worth the trying.

Fred Rogers

Brutal honesty with others

When we talk to others, the case is similar. If we genuinely care about someone, we should not add to their delusion. In the long term, we do them a much bigger favour, if we tell them the truth and help them grow instead of reassuring them in a wrong image of their selves.

Considering we know these people well, we can tune the tone of our words to their emotional state and give nice suggestions instead of harsh critique.

Categories
blog business

How to properly research a topic

Research is an essential component in most contemporary works of art and also in a lot of jobs that aren’t related to art at all. The opinions what research is and how to research appropriately vary by great lengths. This is my point of view on this topic.

Not all research is equal

Depending on your project, your requirements for research will differ. In a scientific paper, you will need to quote all sources, verify their credibility and do so as well for the sources of your sources, if you want to be taken seriously. When you research for an artistic project like a stage piece, it might be sufficient to find opinions instead of facts, so the need for verification of every source might not be needed. 

If your art wanders into the fields of political activism (which is indeed often the case and the premise for the core of this article), you better dig deep and make sure that you are telling the truth or you risk to lose all credibility when it easy to debunk your claims. People tend to not believe people again, once they could find a lie themselves.

No research is ever quite complete. It is the glory of a good bit of work that it opens the way for something still better, and this repeatedly leads to its own eclipse.

Mervin Gordon

Tools of research

Access to information via the internet seems to make research much easier than ever before. This is partially true. It is easier than ever before to find info about every topic, but the quality of that information is not as reliable as it was in a time when putting out information was harder to do.

  1. Nevertheless, our research usually starts online. Google the topic. Make your search specific and not generic. If you consider censorship and filter-bubbles as an issue (you should) do the same search with another search engine (like duckduckgo) that is not based on Google.
  2. Search social networks, discussion forums, community pages and specialized sites for info on the topic. Don’t stop after checking Facebook and Youtube. These two platforms are owned by the biggest corporations that earn money, with your data and preferences. They cater strongly to what they think you want to read. Specific discussion forums and alternative networks that don’t earn money with your data should be your preferred sources online. Examples would be reddit or the social network minds. Which platforms you go to depends on the topics you search for. I already wrote about alternative social media platforms, if you want to dig deeper into that topic.
  3. Check out documentaries about the topic.
  4. During steps 1 – 3, you hopefully picked up some names of experts for your topic. Grab their books from the library if they published something, check their blog, social media and whatever is available. If possible, get in contact and talk or write with them.
  5. If they reference others in their work, repeat the steps above with those people as well. This can be a time-consuming loop until you really get to the point when you find the source of something.
A visit in the library to grab some books should be part of every serious research project.
Your resarch should also lead you to the library, not only to your laptop.
Photo by Aleksey Popov on Scopio.

Golden rules

  1. Don’t prefer one opinion over the other, just because it suits your point of view. Check all theories with the same enthusiasm and depth of research, until you debunk or confirm them.
  2. The fewer sources you have, the less reliable your information.
  3. The farther away your sources are from the origin of the information, the less reliable your info.
  4. Spreading false information will hurt your reputation.
  5. So will sharing misleading information.
  6. If you consider your topics to be the target of censorship and your primary sources are platforms that use algorithms to decide what they show you, you are doing it wrong. 

In the end, research always comes down to asking the right questions. Only you can know what these questions should. Be honest to yourself and invest enough time to come up with everything important to your project.

Categories
business

Dance Business Possibilities: How to make it work

Last week we talked about the elements that we need to master to run a dance business (and I strongly believe it is the same for almost every other business) and become a professional dancer. What we did not cover are the actual possibilities that we have to create income with. I separate those into primary possibilities and secondary ones. The primary ones being the things that directly involve your dancing skills and the secondary ones being things that you can apply your dance knowledge to and therefore turn them into dance-related work.

Let’s look at the primary ones. While all of these are very diverse on the inside, you can split it up into four general activities.

Performing

Performing can be summed up by “dancing for an audience”. It is not relevant what kind of “piece” you perform or in what “stage situation”. Productions can be contemporary pieces, dance theatre, muscials, commercial shows, streetshows and performing for movies, music videos or ads in front of a camera. If you put in the work, performing can bring you a stable income.

For most of us performing is done on a freelance base where you write an invoice and must take care of everything tax-related yourself. If you are really lucky you can get into a standing company that can employ you. In this case, they would pay for your insurance and tax. The downside of performing is that it is not completely in your hand how many shows you can do, because you never know how many gigs you will book.

Teaching is your solid base for any dance business

Out of these four primary work fields teaching is the one that is most reliable in terms of a steady income. It might not be the one you can earn the most money with, but it provides a good amount of stability and security. As soon as you have your classes established and running you know how many people come to you. Therefore you know how much cash will be in your pocket at the end of the month.

Teaching can be done as a freelancer or employed. Depending on the laws in your country, only one of these options might be legal. The downside of teaching: if you have a lot of classes it might feel like a regular job and can get boring if you are not good at motivating yourself.

Choreography

Creating the choreography for performances, shows or camerawork is one of the opportunities that can earn you a lot of money in a short time. If you are booked by a big production to do this job you develop the dance and rehearse with the cast until they can do it. Then your job is done.

While they do the performances, you are already good to go and work on the next job. Downside: You need some strong references or a good network to book the jobs that pay well.

Competing is part of the marketing for your dance business

You can earn money by winning battles. There is price money out there. But the events that have a proper amount of it are rare, and the competition is fierce. If you are not top of the pops – this will not work.

In my opinion, competitions should never be seen as an income stream. There are other reasons to join competitions like building your name, testing your skills and having fun, but for most of us, it is not an option to rely on.

So far so good, let’s look into some secondary possibilities that can directly benefit your dance career development:

Working in or running an artist agency

An evergreen that has tremendous value. If you are doing the booking in an agency that books dancers you might be able to book some good jobs for yourself or for your crew. As no serious agency gives gigs to people they don’t know you are going to meet a lot of people aspiring to a dance career that might be future colleagues on stages.

Therefore you are sitting on the source for jobs and potential new colleagues. Of course, your agency needs to be cool with you doing this, but if you do great work and have the skills to convince on stage, there should not be a problem. On a side note: if you are running the agency yourself it’s no problem at all.

Producing stage pieces

This one is big. It is a shitload of work but can pay off. I live in Austria and at the time I started there was no hip hop dance theatre in the country. In 2006 we started working on changing that – and we did. In the last 10 years, Austrian dance companies, crews and solo artists created more than 15 pieces in a genre that did not exist before in our country. I call this good work. *brofist to everyone who did a piece or show, you guys know who you are*

At the start, most people tend to choreograph and dance in the pieces they produce. So you just created the opportunity for you to do more work. If you are creating pieces for more dancers, you start meeting new people again and grow your network.

Making the event

Creating Dance Events is as big as producing for the stage. You help your scene to grow. You build opportunities and depending on your kind of event you get to dance yourself. Possible events are jams, competitions, theatre, workshops and so on. You can get really creative with this one. The best thing about making events happen is that you really meet a lot of people that dance too. If you treat them well they will eventually become a great addition to your professional network.

And now on to some possibilities that where you can fill a niche that might be unreachable for someone without dance background.

This list is a little bit longer and more creative than the one before. Most of the following jobs are perfectly doable without any knowledge about dance. But being able to dance or having the daily practise that you need to stay on top of your game will give you an edge here. In some cases, you can use your knowledge to become an expert in a niche, which is always an advantage. The list is in no specific order.

Photography/Videography

I put those two together, which does not mean you need to do both, but all points are valid for both. Every event that wants to grow requires proper documentation or ads. As a dancer, you have a better understanding of what to shoot and can produce better images. You can also use this to create products like photo books, prints or movies that might give you some income through sales.

Writing

Dancing is trendy at the moment, and a lot of companies are investing in the scene to grow their revenue. If there is some expert knowledge needed for blogs, copy or whatever, your experience sets you apart from the people who can write but know nothing (like john snow). If you have valuable stuff to say you might be able to publish a book and create income through sales.

Commentary

Be it on your own channels, on tv productions for upcoming big events, or online live streams. Breaking (which we don’t call Breakdance, remember?) is slowly entering the realms of sports and sports have commentators. With Olympia 2024 incoming, all the qualifying events that lead up to it and even existing events like the yearly Red Bull BC One World Final, that already has multilungal commentary, the demand for dance expertise will only rise.

Acting

Sometimes a role asks for someone well versed with moving and doing stuff with his body that untrained people can’t. I produced short movies myself and heard more than once that it is so refreshing to see “actors” on the screen that know how to move.

Modelling

Most dancers that practise hard have a physique that goes well with being a model. As you train your body regularly you are always in shape when a request comes in. I have a lot of colleagues that do model and dance back to back. The only bad thing about modelling: if you are a living photobomb like me, it does not work.

DJing

Dance needs music. The DJ provides it. While you are not actively dancing behind the decks, you are there at a lot of events and get paid. On good events, the DJs does not have to work the whole night alone. In that case, there is still time to hit the cyphers when your backup is playing.

Producing Music

When you have the taste and the skills to create danceable music: go for it. Dancers are always on the search for new music. If you can deliver, you have nothing to worry about. This is another one that can add money from selling your music or through royalties.

Fitness Trainer

New trends are coming up in the fitness world every day. At the moment of this writing, Breakletics is a thing, as well as dance fitness. If you are into this stuff, you can seriously pimp your income because people are fast in spending money on their “healthy lifestyle”. I did some of those earlier in my career, and these were the most profitable classes with the most participants I ever had. And this might go very well with being a fitness model for the club you are working at.

Yoga/Pilates/whateva teacher

This one could be in the other category (stuff that aids your dance career) as well. Some people get deep into Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais or some similar practises. While I am well aware that those are very different, this makes no difference in our business perspective. If you get deep enough into something, teaching might come naturally for you. That is the case here. Like the fitness trainer above, it is one hell of a chance to add substantially to your income. Some of my friends established themselves as the dance experts in physiotherapy. A smart move and it works. Maybe you can design a yoga class tailored to the need of dancers.

Judging

I almost forgot about this one. If you build yourself a reputation that will get you invited to judge significant events, then you can earn money with judging. This said you need to get to the big battles. Smaller competitions can pay you most of the time, but the income is not significant.

I am pretty sure I forgot something, probably a lot of things. If you can think of additional dance business ideas, let me know in the comments and I will add it to the list. And I will give credits for helping me out. With the work fields above there is one important thing. While you can make money with them, you need to be good. Doing any of those bad will damage your reputation while killing time you should use for dancing. So there is no easy-going in any of those.

Secondary work fields are things where you do not actively dance, so they take away time from your dancing. This sounds not too beneficial at first sight but there are reasons why you might want to include secondary work fields in your job setup.

  1. your secondary job benefits your active dance career (the first list of secondaries)
  2. your knowledge of dance qualifies you for a job that non-dancers could not do or makes your results better than from a non-dancer (the second list of secondaries). This makes negotiating higher fees/salary easier.
  3. you are not yet able to support all your financial needs by dancing alone.
  4. you are not that much into “the hustle” and appreciate the stable extra income.
  5. the point we never want to talk about: a lot of the secondaries can provide stability and income when you are not able to dance because of an injury or because you need a break or even when it is time to say goodbye to your active dance career. I know we don’t talk about this. But it is wise to think about it and have a plan.

As a research task for you on the path to becoming a fulltime dance entrepreneur and creating your personal dance business plan (fancy wordings over here) think about which of the possibilities above might work for you. Where do you have the right skills? What do you enjoy? What would be a thing that you would love to learn that could play into your work in a reasonable amount of time? Go through your options and map them out on paper. There is power in seeing what you can do in writing.

Categories
business

About clear communication and its importance

Clear communication is one of the essential pillars of running your business. It optimises workflows and saves you and your customers a lot of headaches. If neglected, it is a guaranteed set up for misunderstandings, that can damage your relationship with the customer or partner (fellow performers, booking agencies, etc).

The goal of clear communication

We aim to answer all necessary questions and make requirements as well as the outcome clear for everyone. One issue that arises regularly is that details remain unclear because one side thinks they are apparent while the other side is unaware of the point at all.

Let’s take a show booking as an example: the following points require clarification:

  • Location
  • Date
  • Time of the show
  • The arrival time of the dancers
  • Is there a soundcheck/tech rehearsal? If yes, when?
  • How do you deliver the music?
  • Space requirements/availability for the show
  • Which floor is in the venue? It there the need to bring PVC or something else?
  • How many dancers are part of the show (is not needed in every case, especial when the group is big)
  • Do you need additional rehearsal-time on the stage due to insufficient space?
  • Is there a dressing room for the dancers? Do you share it with another group? Can you lock it?
  • Who is the contact person for the dancers on-site? How can we reach them?
  • Who is the main contact person on your team for the customer? Make sure they have the phone number.
  • How much does the show cost? Include travel expenses or at least negotiate that they are covered.
  • Invoice Adress
  • Is catering provided for the team (not necessary in every case but you should clarify it)
  • If the show is late or the travel is long: who takes care of accommodation?

Depending on the type of shows you do, there might be more or less points to discuss, but it is more than the regular customer thinks about when he is not used to booking a show.

The principle is the same for every business communication.

The rules of clear communication

  1. Don’t assume. If something is unclear, ask.
  2. Try to speak/write in a language that avoids technical terms or explain them. Your counterpart might not know those.
  3. Have it in written form so that everybody can revisit it, in case of uncertainty.
  4. Don’t be afraid of being the one who points out that some parts are still unclear or missing. While some people might perceive it as counterproductive or even rude in the beginning, everyone will thank you in the long run.

Make it a habit to make things clear

Making things 100% clear for everyone gives you and everyone involved the security of knowing what’s up. There are neither loose ends nor room for interpretation. 

That is precisely what we want in our business. Applying clear communication standards to all of our business talks/mails lets you work and sleep better.

Categories
blog business

Dance Job Aquisition for Introverts

For many aspiring dancers, the most significant topic that seems to hinder career progress is the acquisition of jobs. Without an appropriate network, it becomes even harder to create momentum and establish yourself, more so if you even lack a crew. Let’s add being an introvert, which isn’t as outgoing and has a hard time connecting.

A lot of companies are not casting at all. The reason for that, in my opinion, is that a lot of choreographers and directors know who they want for a specific role, while creating the piece – long before the rehearsals start. Organising a casting and checking other dancers, is a waste of time and money, if you already have your preferences. It’s not happening to exclude anyone, but makes much more sense from a production point of view as you can invest your time and money better.

To make things even worse: not all countries have a big developed scene. Depending on your location, there might be only one or two companies that are doing the kind of pieces you want to dance in. If there are only two companies and none of them is casting, you are out of luck – or so it seems.

So, what to do to get more jobs?

1. Get out of your comfort zone and invest in your network

I know, this is is not the answer that satisfies the real introvert dancer, but it is the best advice, to get ahead when you consider only the business side of things. 

There is a saying that goes “your network is your net worth.” In most cases, this is true. The more people you know that are creating pieces, manage dance companies, or book shows, the better your chances to be considered for either the work itself or at least being invited to castings.

This means you can’t spend the whole night in the cypher. There are times to dance, and there are times to talk.

Of course, there are other things you can do, to get more dance jobs, but be warned that this advice #1 is the one that gives you the best results.

2. Do your own research

No matter what kind of production you want to dance in, you need to know when there is an opportunity to join. Those opportunities are not always obvious or easy to find. 

Google and social media are your best friends. Research all the companies and crews that do the work you want to do, within the area that you are eager to travel. Bookmark their websites, follow their social media accounts and get on their email list if they have one. Some companies have a list for notifications on upcoming castings only.

Find and join groups on facebook, telegram, reddit or whichever social media platform you prefer. If you really want it, get on all of them.

There are print magazines out there that have calendars with upcoming shows and auditions. Additional potential sources of opportunities are dance universities, private education facilities or the culture departments of administration. Depending on your countries policies, some companies might be required to publish their auditions there.

3. Consider other genres

Many dancers only want to be part of productions within their scene. Means a hip hop dancer only wants to be in shows from hip hop dancers. There are many opportunities outside your scene. As a hip hop dancer consider auditions for contemporary pieces. Choreographers from there often appreciate the additional movement vocabulary and open to cooperations. Contemporary dance is much more established and therefore usually has more active companies.

4. Nourish your existing relationship with companies

If you booked and with a company or choreographer and enjoyed the work, stay in touch. Find out when something new comes up and let them know you are interested. Show up at shows and interact on social media from time to time. You might be invited to audition again or go directly to the show, if you fit the role. 

5. Get to know the others

When you are in a production, take the time to get to know your fellow dancers. More often than not, people dance in one production but run their own projects as well. 

6. Be versatile

The broader your repetoire, the easier it is for others to fit them into their production. If you can only do one dance style, your are limited to roles that require precisely this one dancestyle. If you have a solid foundation in many styles or are a real jack-of-all-trades, you can fulfil multiple roles.

7. Be more than a dancer

When you can do more than dance, your value to smaller companies, who don’t have everything covered, increases a lot. In small productions it often happens that the choreographer dances in the piece. Can you provide music, do dramaturgy, create costumes, stage design, shoot videos or photos? Whatever you can offer might be your ticket in.

8. Run the show yourself

This one is counter-intuitive at first but has proven correct many times. When there are no jobs, start creating them yourself. Make a piece, create jobs and people start showing up. If you are valuable to others on the same path, they will consider you for their projects as well.

I wrote about this topic earlier: Work together in flexible structures as a strategy in niche-markets.

9. Let your skills be known

Make it easy for people to see that you can do the job. Have videos online, that show what you are good at. If you are a fantastic storyteller, create some narrative dance clips. Good at choreography? Choreograph the shit out of that super complex or emotional track.

10. Bring your fans

First, I suck at this one – because my following on social media is super small, but it is still a thing. If you have a lot of fans or even just followers on social media, that make a significant difference for the group you want to work with, play that card.

When you are based in the town where the production of company X premieres and your local fans are enough to sell out the theatre, only the most established companies will be able to resist. That’s leverage.

Not every point will work for everyone. I consider #1 the best advice in general, as being able to do what needs to be done to create your network is a skill that will benefit you in your business forever.

#2 is also an essential skill in today’s information society and will give you many more opportunities. It is just essential to dig deep in your research.

#5, #6, #7 and #8 are the points that I used myself. I was never the best dancer in any production, but I always had way more to offer than my dance skills and I produced my own pieces as well. That helped we grow my network and build a reputation as someone who makes stuff happen.

You don’t have to work all the suggestions above. Check out which feel right for you and focus on those. If you can apply #1 and #2, go for it and add some of the others for extra spice.

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When and how to avoid or utilize tunnel-vision

The filter bubble is a term that describes the phenomenon of search engines, social media platforms, and online advertising systems showing you only the content that you are supposedly interested in while withholding the rest.

While the internet coined that term, the phenomenon itself is not new. The same happens to a lesser degree when you are primarily moving in only one social circle or one cultural scene. The topics that people talk about, as well as trends and political opinions, are (most of the time) consistent as long as you move within the same crowd.

This bubble leads to unintended tunnel-vision as information that is not part of our bubble goes unnoticed. Depending on your current situation, this can be good or bad.

Utilize a single bubble if you want to learn a craft that is specific to it.

If you want to learn a new skill or craft from one specific culture or subculture, immersing yourself into it is the best thing to do. Unwavering focus without any distractions will let you progress faster on your quest to learn a specific skill. That is the case if you want to learn hip hop dance or breaking. Dive into the scene, find friends, teachers, or mentors there, and become the greatest dancer you can be.

Avoid tunnel-vision by participating in multiple bubbles if you want to create or come up with a plan.

If you want to create something or come up with original or creative ideas, it is better to avoid bubbleism (I know that is not a word). You want to be on the edges of multiple bubbles. You have more influences and also access to more information. This is the case if you’re going to turn your dance passion into a sustainable dance business, beyond hip hop dance moves. You will be better off having access to the body of thought from the hip hop scene, entrepreneurs and community builders.

Know where you are on your journey and which bubbles you need to reach your destination.