Category: business

These posts are related to building and improving your dance business. We talk about how to analyse your situation and how to build a sustainable income with your specific skill set. No silver bullets, but methods that work to find your spot in the dance industry.

When and how to avoid or utilize tunnel-vision

In a tunnel your focus only goes to the end: 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.

A strategy to set up a sustainable dance business

Thriving in the dance business is a matter of balance between your dance and business skills.
Thriving in the dance business is a matter of balance between your dance and business skills. photo: Birgit Vermeulen via Scop.io

The dream of making a living or even thriving in the dance business is dreamt of many. I know it is doable because I did it in the past, and I will do it again after taking a time-out after our daughter’s birth.  A not so obvious point: making a living as a dancer is not that much harder than finding regular employment that pays well and is good for your soul

I outline a simple four-step strategy that will take you there. Strategy means we talk about “what are we going to do?” The needed steps are universal and timeless. Executing the strategy is an individual thing and might differ from dancer to dancer because our situations are different. But the strategy stays the same.

Four Steps to a sustainable dance career

  1. Create Value
  2. Monetize It
  3. Scale
  4. Invest

That does not sound like a strategy for dancers. It isn’t. It is one basic strategy for running a sustainable business. Too many people who try their luck in the dance world fall into tunnel vision and only focus on their dance skills. This makes the more significant part of being successful a gamble, which is stupid. If you only work on the dance, you will eventually become an excellent dancer. But without understanding how to turn your dance skills into money, you will not turn pro.

Creating Value, Monetizing it, Scaling, and investing everything extra back into your business will pay your bills, even if you are not the best dancer. I never won a major competition, but dance and dance-related work feed me since 2008, and now it does the same for my family. If I can do it, so can you.

Creating value as a dancer

Creating value means nothing else, but “you need to have something that other people want.” These can be extraordinary dance skills that every choreographer wants to have in the show. It could also be the ability to teach people to dance, or to win battles, to entertain, or everything else you can come up with. As long as there are people who want it.

The more specific your offer is, the better your chances that there is little or no competition. Reinforce your strengths, try to work with the things that nobody else in your area has, and dare cover topics that others avoid.

For some inspiration on how to create value with your dance, check out the article about possibilities to build your dance business around.

The base of any reliable business is to create something that people want or need.
The key to success in business is to have something that people want or need.
photo: Dusana Baltic

Turn your value into money

When you have something to offer, it will not be hard to earn money from it. If every choreographer wants your skills in the production, there will be more than enough productions that pay you. If you are a good teacher, students will happily pay a fee for your class. If you can entertain people, you can create your own piece for the stage, go for videos, host dance events, and much more. And suppose you are really a battle winner. In that case, there is price money (but I don’t consider that a viable option to build a business upon).

The point here is that you have to commit to turning your value into money. Because the other option is to do it for your enjoyment only, which means you have to find different ways to pay the bills. That is perfectly fine if you want to have it that way. But you are reading an article for those who don’t want to do something else to earn a living.

I also wrote about pricing your dance classes, if you want to check that one out.

Scale your dance business

Here comes the thing that every entrepreneur thinks about when building a business. Dancers usually don’t, which is a grave mistake. Scaling means to multiply your income. Simple as that. Scaling would be to dance more shows or teach more classes. That version of scaling is for beginners because you will run out of hours to scale your business or burn-out.

Smart scaling would be to find opportunities that pay you better for the same work or create products that you can sell. Teaching that one class at a camp for 50 people should pay you better than teaching 10. Think digital age. Can you create an online course, where you can teach 50 people per week? If you can, you win.

I opted-in for writing. That way, I can reach many more people than in regular classes or talks, even besides trying to be a good father. Choose a way you are comfortable with. The most popular method right now is video. Create a Youtube channel, stream on Twitch or Instagram, become the next big thing on Tik Tok.

The point is: find something that allows you to reach more people in the same time or less time. If you are doing primarily shows, this might be a good moment to think about getting an agent.

Look for opportunities so scale your business by looking at tech options
Keep your eyes open for opportunities to scale your business.
photo: still from Elsewhere

Invest in your dance business

As soon as you have money left invest it, instead of spending it needless:

  1. Learn something new that makes you better at what you do
  2. Learn something new that helps you to reach more people
  3. Create a new product that you can sell
  4. Advertise what you have

This is a strategy that works. If you really want to make it in dance, you can. If you are already working in dance, check your business against the four steps above. Where are you doing good, and where are you lacking?

Be brave and let us know.

The Dance Teacher’s Toolbox

The Dance Teacher's Toolbox: a collection of tools for teaching dance

Today I will cover the arsenal and tools for teaching dance that I use. There are, of course, more techniques out there that you can use to teach dance, but these are the ones that I think are the most important ones. They suffice in most regular classes. Later, I will cover more sophisticated techniques, but I want to dive into the other primary work fields as well, before going so much into the depths of teaching.

Show & Tell

Show & Tell is the basic principle of teaching other people anything related to dance. The technique is self-explanatory, as it is what it sounds like. The visual information of seeing and the added information about where to look for the details and intricacy of the material can be enough for people to understand what you want them to teach. This is your bread and butter. The go-to tool in teaching.

Feedback

Corrections can be done in many ways. You can address general problems or give individual feedback. You should do both like a lot of topics will be relevant for everyone, and some students might need a unique problem addressed. Don’t fall into the habit of not giving feedback. This is one of the essential differences between someone who teaches people and someone who entertains with dance. That would be a viable business approach as well, but this time we talk all about teaching.

Drills

Give your students exercises that make them practice new material in a structured way. Drills are like dance push-ups. They are needed to build muscle memory and elevate movement quality. You might have a lot of drills from your teachers, or you can create your own.

Games

Primarily if you teach a lot of kids, the idea of drilling something might not be the best approach to sell. Package the things your students need to work on in games. B-Boy Catch, Chinese Whispers with Dance Moves and similar ideas work well.

Peer Learning

Let your students teach and correct each other. Trying to explain something to other students leads to a better understanding of the material. This can be done when experienced students teach the new ones or when a group of the same level feedbacks each other.

Progressions

Teaching material in a sequence that makes sense is first and foremost a matter of planning your curriculum, but you can also use it to lead people to more complex moves. Go back to the basics of a movement if the students struggle with it and rebuild it from the foundation. In many cases, they did not yet master the previous motions you taught them.

Handouts and Teaching Material

Sadly, this one is not very widespread in the dance scene world. You can really support the progress of your interested students when you provide material that helps them to dive deeper into the matter. This can be additional background information, self-made video tutorials to remind them about the technique, links to tutorials from others, or documentaries. You can also provide videos of dancers that excel in certain areas that you covered in your classes. Make it easy for them to dig deep and go far with research if they are willing to.

Homework

Give them something to do or think about in between classes. You can’t force them to do it, but those who are willing to learn will do it and therefore progress faster.

Rhythm Exercises

Have some exercises ready that help them understand how music works. These can be taken from music theory, body percussion, or they can be created with simple dance steps.

Notes

Take notes. You, the teacher, not the students. They can do it as well, of course. Write down what you did in class, so you know what repeat next time. Write down if some students had issues with a specific topic and get back to it to help them out. Notes help to stay on track with everything, keep an overview of what you did in which in class and give you an excellent tool to evaluate the progress of the course.

The following point was not on my initial list, because I did not consider them as tools but Focus from the B-Boy Dojo made me reconsider, so I add them here now. Thx man.

History & Stories

The history of the dance you teach as well as stories and anecdotes from your own dance life or people you know are outstanding tools to keep your students motivated. When told in an inspiring way that the listener can relate to, it will make them wanna jump back to practice immediately.

The history of the dance is, of course, something you should teach as well and not only use it as a tool for teaching dance. But as it comes in with that double function, it works as the swiss-army-knife in your toolbox.

These are my most used tools for teaching dance, and of course, there are many more of them. Let me know which ones you use and if there are any basic ones that I missed.

If you want to see some of those in action, I teach a breaking class at Streetdance Center Salzburg, together with my colleague Gü.

How to decide which material goes into the finished piece?

How to decide which scenes to keep in your piece?

Creating a stage performance is an individual process. Every artist has his own way of doing it. But there is one guiding principle that will transform our creation from an unsorted puzzle into a finished piece that makes sense. Making sense to be taken with a grain of salt as it is in the eye of the beholder.

The basic structure and its implications

One thing is sure: our piece has a beginning and an ending. In between, things are happening. Sometimes a lot of things, sometimes almost nothing. But those things in between are what messes up a lot of works, that started with brilliant ideas.

It’s easy to disregard the importance of this middle part, as the first impression and the last image you remember from a piece are defining moments. But it is this middle, that makes the difference between a persuasive speech and meaningless babble.

Only keep things that make sense in the context of the piece

Every scene in your piece should be necessary to bring you from the beginning of your piece to the end. It needs to change something. It can either be an action that alters the state of our world or introduce new information that makes our viewers understand. If a scene does not change anything that brings us closer to the end or gives us new insights, it needs to go. 

To call this shot, it is important to know what you want to achieve with the production.

Removing scenes can be hard because we fell in love with them during the process. I recommend putting them into your treasure chest of ideas. Maybe you can build another piece around them, another time.

Let me close with an example: Our short piece is about a young lady that is an unhealthy relationship with a boyfriend. Throughout the piece, she understands that he will not change and decides she is better of alone and therefore ends the relationship.

Her being at work on her laptop is a necessary scene when she talks to a colleague who helps her to come to a conclusion or when she meets someone better for her. It is not required if we show off that we can use tutting to visualize the work with laptops and tablets.

All of this would change when the piece would be about showing what you can do with tutting, but that was not the goal in the example.

Of Clockmakers and Clockworks

The clockwork will not run, without great preparation from the clockmaker.

To finish any given project and make meaningful progress, we apply two different modes of operation. I like metaphors and call them clockmaker mode and clockwork mode. It would also be perfectly fine to label them smart mode and dumb mode or planning mode and execution mode.

The point is that both modes alone are worthless for real progress. Only a combination of both gets essential stuff done.

Clockmaker Mode

The clockmaker mode is about defining goals, asking the right questions, reflecting about your course of action, evaluating outcomes, and, most important, laying out the plan for clockwork mode.

Clockmaker mode is about navigation. It’s about finding out the place where you want to go with whatever you do. Its purpose is to set a course for your destination. 

Clockmaker mode needs time, honesty, and free thought.

Clockwork Mode

Clockwork mode means to take all the necessary steps to get you where you want to be. It is about ticking all the boxes on your to-do list and making all the tiny steps that will lead you to your goal.

In clockwork mode, it’s not about navigation as you already know your course. It is about traveling the distance. 

Clockwork mode needs discipline and the will to push through uncomfortable times because you know where it leads you.

It’s always better to be part of a clockwork that you created or at least helped to create, so you know where you are heading.

The Right Balance

Smart mode and dumb mode need each other. The one provides the plan, and the other provides the action to make it happen.

Each one of them alone makes your whole endeavor and life miserable. People who are in smart mode all the time only talk without ever doing something. The others who are in a permanent dumb mode, work all the time without the feeling of accomplishment and are very likely to burn out.

It would be best if you had a healthy balance of planning and execution to go where you want to go. Define a goal, make a plan, work towards it, check if you are heading in the right direction, and adjust course if necessary.

Examples

If you create a dance piece, clockmaker mode is answering the questions of what the piece is about and why you want to do it. Clockwork mode is creating the choreography, choosing the music, fix all the dates and so on.

In event management, smart mode is defining if you throw a jam or battle, who to invite, what program to plan, what you can offer to sponsors and so on. Dumb mode is contacting all the sponsors, asking the guys if they want to come, booking flights, doing all the things at the event itself. In short: making it happen.

None of the two modes has any worth without the other. Find your balance and start your journey.

Don’t be stupid about taxes and the law – Dance Business Advice

Don't ignore laws and taxes as a dancer

A lot of people start out doing dance-related stuff as a side-hustle besides studying or their regular job. That is a great idea. What is not so great is that most of them don’t care about doing in the right way, which can lead to major problems later on. As soon as your income is above a certain threshold, most countries require you to pay taxes and/or mandatory insurance. I will not go into detail about this as taxes and laws are different from country to country and sometimes even from county to county.

What I want you to be aware of is the fact that the money you save by not registering your freelance activity and therefore not paying taxes is nothing compared to the potential issues you can run into.

What are the potential problems?

  • When you get caught you have to pay the money you saved plus an additional fee, which sets you back money-wise.
  • Depending on the severeness, you might get a criminal record. In some countries, it is legal and easy to check these. If you have a criminal record, a lot of people won’t hire you at all.
  • Dealing with an examination of the tax office is a pain in the ass, that will keep you from doing your work.
  • If you don’t work official, your time does not count towards your pension.

So what shall we do?

Inform yourself about the legal situation for freelance dancers in your country. Start with finding out if there is a lobby or special interest group for dancers. It’s most likely a part of freelance artists or freelance entrepreneurs. Google will tell you.

FOR AUSTRIA: You can find all the relevant info online. You need the “Finanzamt” of your hometown, the “Sozialversischerungsanstalt der gewerblichen Wirtschaft bald Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen” (Dance is a “Freies Gewerbe”) and for potential general questions the “Wirtschaftskammer”.

If you can not find the Infos you need online, call the office of said institutions and ask for an appointment to talk you through the process of setting you up for legal work in your field.

If there is really no interest group taking care of your work, then just hit up the municipal authorities and they will point you in the right direction.

Get help!

It is possible to do everything on your own but I highly recommend working with an accountant and an attorney.

The accountant will take care of all your tax-related stuff and usually save you more money than he or she costs. Look for a freelance accountant and not one inside a big office. There are people specialized in small businesses. If your company will grow big, you can still change to a bigger office, when you need the additional manpower.

Hopefully, you will never need your attorney but in case you have issues, he can help with settling it. No matter if you need someone to defend you or someone is trying not to pay an invoice. Having legal expense insurance comes in handy if you need the attorney’s help.

With everything regarding taxes and law taken care of, you can focus on doing your work that matters. Do yourself that favour.

How to get more dance jobs in Austria

how to get more dance jobs in asutria title graphic

I already wrote about the topic “how to get more dance jobs” a few months back. I get some feedback on this article (that the stuff in there does not work) and some new requests about how to do it in Austria.

What is different in Austria?

That is the question we have to answer first before we can dive into the specifics. All the points from the general article I already wrote apply to the fullest but it can feel like you don’t get any results by applying them. The main reason is that the business side of the scene and the Austrian dance industry are still in their build-up. What I mean by that is that there are people producing shows, there are agencies taking care of bookings for urban artists and there are dance studios in most major cities but there are not plenty of them.

In countries with a developed dance industry, you have the possibility to audition for jobs that you want to be part of every other week. You have multiple standing companies with a regular cast and stand-ins for most positions. You have multiple people that take care of the production side of things. And you have many agencies with a widespread network that generates opportunities to show your art.

In Austria and many other countries with a dance-scene that is on the rise, we have some of these, but we don’t have an abundance. So you maybe have four to ten auditions per year, for pieces you want to do. There are 2 or 3 agencies that seriously care and know about the capabilities and needs of hip hop dance. And there might be five promoters who manage to do recurring events that have international relevance.

Austria has a dance scene and dance industry on the rise. We need to build the infrastructure first to create the jobs we want to do. Nobody will give them to us. Who should?

That sounds like a bad thing in the first place, but it really isn’t. Because what it does, is leaving a lot of space for everyone who really cares and wants to make it with dance and dance-related work.

How to do it?

First, this is not science. Second, I am writing from my own experience of doing business with dance and dance-related topics since 2007. Third, I believe this is the best way forward for the Austria scene as a whole. Some individual people might be better of alone but looking at the bigger picture from a holistic point of view, these are my recommendations.

As mentioned above, our scene and industry are not yet fully established, we are building it right now. This means that there is a lot of space to be filled.

What we should do, is create the infrastructure that we lack. This also ensures that the infrastructure and businesses hold up the values that we want to represent. That is extra important as the possibility of breaking (that’s the thing you should not call breakdance) becoming Olympic will attract people from outside (sports, finance, and advertisers of all kind) who have the business part down towards our scene and their values will not necessarily align with ours.

What can a single person do?

Everything. That is the point. Through the scarcity in the scene, you can contribute very quickly.

You can organize classes yourself. Everything you need it to find is a room and a mobile sound system. I know people who teach twenty classes a week and are set. All self-sustained.

You can organize events. It’s not impossible to do jams and competitions on a low budget. In fact, we need those to have the inhibition threshold low for the new blood.

You can reach out to potential customers proactively and sell your shows. By doing this you fill the role of an artist agency and might become one if you want to.

You can audition for all pieces around and try to land that spot or you can start your own production. This feels overwhelming in the beginning but if you want to create, you should.

How is this getting more jobs?

The part above isn’t, but it is a prerequisite for our scene to grow and move forward into something that can provide a sustainable life for everyone who wants it. From there we need to start connecting and work together (I already wrote about that too).

By creating multiple working platforms (this can be crews, dance companies, production companies, agencies, artist collectives, solo freelancers and more) and connecting them, we can provide more work. If I sell shows, you produce pieces and a third guy organizes workshops we can hustle on our own, or connect and everyone has three jobs instead of one.

Of course, that is simplified as nobody can work with everyone and some people are more suited for this job and not the other. But take into consideration how far our scene came in the last ten years. Think about how many talented people are out there hustling. We just need to connect and build together. In a country with a small scene, there is not really a competition as the market is not nearly saturated. There are only missed opportunities.

Don’t stop there

When we established a network that provides enough opportunities for everyone who wants to dance, the inclusion does not stop. Think about all the street fashion designers, dance content creators, music producers, MCs , DJs and so on. These are valuable for us too, as we are to them. Spotting these opportunities and taking them, is what we should cultivate.

It has been done before in Austria. On a smaller scale. And these islands still exist. Where people work together, but most of the time they only extend to crew and friends. Which is fine, but we all could do better.

As this scene and industry are built now, it is us who should it build and make the rules. Or we can let others built it and play by their rules. Easy decision for me, it always has been.

Your Signal/Noise Ratio

Frequency Spectrum showing signal and noise

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).

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.

As I recently released my first book Dance Smart, I dived a little bit more into marketing and therefore stumbled upon this topic. While I am doing a pretty good job with my Signal/Noise ratio on the blog and Facebook, my Twitter and Instagram Signal/Noise ratios suck. That’s one of my projects for 2020.

Read you all next year.

What promo material do I need as a dancer?

promo material needed in the dance industry aka promotion papers

No matter if you have your own shows or are auditioning to be part of other productions, there will be times when people ask you for promo material. These are the things you should have ready to send at any given time.

  1. Your CV (Curriculum Vitae) or vita is a list of your education, your employment, and the freelance jobs you did. If it does not include the education part, some people call it references. If someone asks for an artist vita, include only the things relevant to dance, for a complete vita send one that provides for everything. The CV usually has one portrait picture included somewhere at the top.
  2. A Bio or Biography is a text that tells people who you are. This might be used to introduce you on a website or program booklet or anywhere else where people would be interested in who you are. Make it interesting to read and full of relevant things.
  3. When asked for your data, you should be able to provide a one-page document that contains your name, birth date, country of origin, current residence, phone number, email address, passport number, height, weight, clothing, and shoe sizes. If your numbers are good on social media, include views and followers. Your popularity can influence a decision, especially when you audition for shows, as all of your fans are potential customers.
  4. High-quality photographs. Sometimes people decide on your looks. You need a good selection of photos to send along. In auditions, often, the picture is on top of the other papers when handed out to directors or choreographers. You don’t want to waste that first impression. I recommend having three different good portraits and three or more appealing action shots. It is an advantage if you have both from different distances (face only, including shoulders, half body, full body). If possible, make sure they align with your artist identity.
  5. Videos. Potential customers want to see you dance. You should have at least one full show and a demo reel with multiple appearances online, that you can send if someone asks. You can either host them on your own website or pick a hoster like Youtube or Vimeo.
  6. Your online presence. People will check your homepage. So be sure it is up-to-date.
  7. A scan of your passport. This is not part of your regular promo material, but as soon as you are booked for a job abroad, most agencies will ask for a copy of the passport to arrange flights and hotels.

Prepare everything in pdf format and have it ready at any time. Response time is crucial. You will be fast when you have everything prepared to pull into an email and hit send. That gives you an edge over the competition that has to start looking for everything first.

Red Flags to watch out for when signing an artist agency contract

A red flag that warns you about signing the contract.

You are ready to launch into the dance industry and found an agency that is eager to sign you? That’s amazing. But be careful and take the time to read your contract to avoid signing with a scammy agency. Sadly they are out there. Here are some points you should look out for. All of them in isolation might be fine, but when more of them come together, you might rethink if you can trust that agency.

Membership Fees

Real agencies know they earn money with every job you dance. Therefore they don’t ask for any fee to include you in their catalog. Some real agencies have this as well to prevent people who are not serious from applying. But if you want to ignore it, make sure that none of the other points is a match as well.

An exhaustive catalog that lacks definition

If the agency has a million different artists without a clear direction or categorization, this is a problem. Especially if it comes together with membership fees. Do the math yourself. If you take the membership fee, they asked for and multiply it with the artist in the catalog, is there an additional need for the agency to sell any jobs or are they already set?

No active promotion

If they don’t offer any other promotion besides the catalog on their website, they probably don’t put in any work. Ignore this for agencies that are big in their respective industries.

No detail interest in you or your work

If the agency is asking for no or very little detail or reference material, you should ask yourself how are they going to sell you. The same goes if they never ask for updates of your work or references.

When your agency contract has multiple of the issues mentioned reconsider, don't sign it.

Automated registration

If you can sign up online and pop up on their homepage without ever talking (or writing) with an actual human, it does not look like there is an interest in providing quality as obviously nobody reviewed your application.

You need to use their photographer or videographer

When your material is good, and they still want you to create new things with their photographer or camera guys, and you need to pay for it. If they cover the costs, it should be fine.

They don’t require a written contract

A contract is there to secure both parties in your working relationship. Only forgo this if you know that guys personally and you trust them.

Sign Now

If they use a time-constraint to put pressure on you to sign the contract. If they see your work as a benefit for their agency and not only your money, there is no reason to make a fast deal but a good one.

You know nobody

If the agency is active in your area, it is improbable that you know nobody in their catalog. Check with your circle if anyone knows the other dancers to find out if they are real or fake.

Not every agency is a scam, and there is no need for paranoia. But when you encounter multiple of the points above, it is probably wise to continue your search instead of signing.