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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out documentaries about the topic.
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.
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.
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.
The fewer sources you have, the less reliable your information.
The farther away your sources are from the origin of the information, the less reliable your info.
Spreading false information will hurt your reputation.
So will sharing misleading information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Four Steps to a sustainable dance career
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Invest in your dance business
As soon as
you have money left invest it, instead of spending it needless:
Learn something new that makes you
better at what you do
Learn something new that helps you
to reach more people
Create a new product that you can
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?
The Artist Identity is at the core of your marketing process. Most issues in independent (means self-made) marketing come from the lack of definition and therefore the potential fans not knowing what to expect. The Artist Identity is a universal idea that is as true in the dance industry as it is in the music business or any other endeavor that requires Marketing. But what is it?
The artist identity is a curated version of yourself that emphasizes your work and the message you want to send out while hiding everything irrelevant. It also takes your target audience and market into consideration.
The Artist Identity is the perceived image of you, as an artist, by the audience. It is the promise to your fans what they can expect when consuming your work. It is the story you tell.
two fundamentally different approaches to the definition/creation process. I
will call them the artist-first-approach and the market-first-approach. Both
are extremes that lead to potential upcoming issues in the artist’s career, and
I recommend taking the best from both worlds to create your process.
The artist-first-approach follows the idea of not creating an Artist Identity at all but by merely going with who the artist is. It would mean you are 100% real with yourself and the audience about everything and let the people who love this find you. As great as this sounds, it fails to take into consideration that every one of us has some weird sides, that might be detrimental to building a consistent story that resonates with an audience that is big enough to make a sustainable career around. It also fails when dealing with people who just have no idea of who they are or who they want to be.
The market-first-approach is what has been done by the big players in the music industry for decades. They studied trends in the market, understood what people considered cool and created artificial artist personas (just another fancy term for the Artist Identity) to match these needs. For that, it was essential to find a new artist without a developed identity and tailor his story to what sells well. That is still common practice in pop music, especially with young artists who might not be sure about who they really are themselves. This approach bears a high risk of the artist becoming unsatisfied with her playing a role instead of following her own intentions and ideas. That might backfire in the long-term.
As mentioned before, I recommend taking the best of both approaches. You start by clearly understanding who you are and what moves you. You think about what you do and the reasons behind it. We already answered a lot of these questions when thinking about Your Bigger Picture and Artisan or Originator. By making the motivations and interests of you the main inspiration for the Artist Persona, you ensure that you are motivated in the long run to stick with the identity that you created.
Step by Step to your
Let’s do this in a structured way. Step by step. I recommend you take notes. Here is how to create/find your Artist Identity:
You need to
answer these questions to make sure you know the foundation you are building
the future of your project on. They are the building stones of what you are
doing. If they are not right, the rest is not going to work. When you meet
issues based on the wrong foundation along the way, you can correct them, but
it is much more work than getting it right in the beginning.
Who are you and What are you doing?
Why are you doing it?
What is your vision of a better
world, aka Your Bigger Picture?
If you are
already settled in your identity and far on your way of character-development the
answers can be simple but going into depth has advantages along the way because
you know more details. In the example, we will go with easy answers from my
perspective to make the article not unnecessarily complicated and lengthy.
My simple answer to #1 would be a dancer. While
this would be the obvious one, it is not detailed enough and would not match
what I really do. If I dig deeper and check with myself honestly what I do, I
arrive at “telling stories with dance as my primary and writing my secondary
means of communication”. Does not sound too sexy now, but it is a much
better start. With the original answer (“a dancer”) I would put
myself in a position to compete with guys like Les Twins and thousands of other
people who are just better than me when we talk about dancing. That’s not a
good position to be in when we talk about business.
I am doing this because I was drawn to
experiencing and presenting stories ever since, but never by merely telling
them. Long before I started to dance, I was into role-playing games (DSA and
Shadowrun for my fellow players), mostly as the game master. I organised
multiple LARPs, which are Live Action Role Playing games – impro theatre
without an audience, just for the pleasure of the guys playing. As soon as I
felt a little confident in my skills, I created my first own dance theatre
piece and later short movies. During all these times I danced myself (in
battles or other productions), but all the projects I launched on my own have
that story-driven background.
In my bigger picture, everyone has something he
or she likes to do, that adds value to the life of others. Everyone should be
able to do exactly that in his life and be able to earn a living doing it.
What are your influences
in the section above are of general nature. Influences and interests are, in my
opinion, where our ideas and topics come from. It’s where we look for
inspiration, where we take our topics from or what shaped our world views. They
are specific. It’s the genres we watch/read, the music we listen to, the
passions we follow, our hobbies and the ways we waste our time with. It’s also
our upbringing, our education and therefore the way we think.
these points helps us stay consistent as we know the things our mind is drawn
I am from a working family – Mum and Dad had
regular jobs to feed the family. Mom in day-care and Dad ran his own software
company. I was in a technical school and graduated as a software engineer. Since
school, my mind is wired to take the logical approach to every issue it is
I did a good amount of martial arts in my life
– with Judo being the one I stayed with for the longest. I did it for 9 years
and held a first dan (black belt) when I quit. I guess it’s fair to say Martial
Arts were the defining thing in my teenage years. Judo is a full-contact
discipline, so one gets used to rough handling.
As already teased above my other interests were
in the realms of RPGs and as a software developer of course videogames (for me
that cliché is true). The topics or genres I follow are mostly Science Fiction
(especially Cyberpunk) and Fantasy (both with a postapocalyptic touch). I love
those because they usually deal with the same topics that we must deal within
our lives but disguise them as something completely different. I hope to be
able to do that in my work as well.
that we have collected this bit of information, what do we make from it? We use
it to create our persona in a way that can stay consistent.
For me, it would not be wise to create my
Artist Identity around being a wealthy kid, that is a fantastic choreography
dancer from an art school and promote following your gut feeling. I could not
keep up with one of these parts, let alone all three. Playing a role is not in
the interest of us, because we are here for the long term and being real with
yourself makes a consistent game much more pleasant.
Your main discipline
your primary way of reaching your audience? Probably by dancing, I know. But
how do you approach it? Common in dance is entertainment, education and
competition. Not saying these are the only three but in most cases at least one
of them fits.
is precise, I guess – you dance or create dance pieces that are there to amaze
people. Education means you help people grow in some way. Competition means you
are out in the arena to proof you are the best – this can be battles,
choreography contests but also competitive art exhibitions. These disciplines
are not mutually exclusive, but it helps to define your main.
I see myself in the education field. While I
try to make my work as entertaining as possible, my main interest is to make
people think about what I want to tell them. This goes well with my analytical
thinking and writing. I guess there is no question that the article you read
right now can be considered education as well.
Up to this
point, we looked at ourselves, the work we do and what we want to
represent. We will now change our perspective
and look at our potential audience.
the answers we collected until now we think about the promise – the offer we
make to people what they will get from us. From there, we develop a matching
lifestyle and the cultural/social aspects that go well with our message. It
will also help us to define topics for visuals and promotional content in
is a creative task that you should take enough time to complete thoroughly.
There is no silver bullet to this one. Everything that came before and comes
after are abstract methods that are similar for everyone. This one is about
taking time and condensing everything you know into a neat package.
My promise is “I will show you my art, help you
to create yours and give you the knowledge to turn it into a business if you
Often the key message might not translate into a slogan. That’s not a problem. You don’t tell people but show. The following examples will work fine, as well:
“I will blow your mind with creative concepts and movement design”. (Would work as the promise from Phillip Chbeeb @phillipchbeeb)
“I will show you how we did it back in the days”. (Could be from Buddha Stretch @buddhastretch)
“When you join me, you will see some sexy choreography pieces”. (Fits Jade Chynoweth @jadebug98)
I did not ask any of these guys for their Artist Identity planning. But by looking at their presentation I found that the examples above work. Only the single sentence I made up, catches the essence of what you can expect from these artists. It’s easy to understand, and that is the point.
What we share
The next step is to define what we want to share with people. Other people call this defining the lifestyle and culture around the artist, which is valid to some extent, but I dislike calling it like that. We are not changing our lifestyle or culture. We are choosing what to show people. This step should take everything into consideration that we already know from this text and include the insights from Your Bigger Picture, Artisan or Originator and your chosen work fields (primary and secondary if you have multiple).
your lifestyle (the real-life you live). What parts of it are relevant and
exciting for someone who might take you by the word of your promise? Don’t make
a mistake and think it’s all of it. Most people are not interested in your
morning routine, diet or family affairs when they are there to watch excellent
movement design and creative concepts like promised in the first example above.
Maybe some hardcore fans want to know that later down the road, but that is a
topic for another time.
Here I am, more or less talent-free but a
hard-worker, trying to decide what’s worth sharing: I chose to go with my
finished pieces of work, in some situations the work in progress, the methods I
use to get there, things that inspire me, what I know about dancing and
everything I know about the business. Things I don’t share as part of my Artist
Identity are my private life, parties (except they are part of my work), my
training, pets, and so on.
At the time of this writing, you can not see
this reflected on my social channels as I am working on my first book release
and will tackle the time-consuming tasks of implementing the Artist Identity in
my social media presence after I finished the publication of the book.
you share are there to build trust between you and viewers, and eventually,
they will turn viewers into fans and then true fans. They are what we need. You
remember the theory of 1.000 true fans, don’t you? You want the people to come
back because they love what you offer, and you want them to come back often.
Therefore, it is essential to find the sweet spot of what you can and want to
give and what they want. If you can deliver that, you are set up for success.
Check the things you put out into the world against your decision of what’s part of the image you want to share. When you teach kids as a central pillar of your identity, consider sharing great moments from your workshops instead of drunk pics from your recent parties. Because the kids are watching and teachers have responsibility. On the other hand, if being there at every party you can get is part of your lifestyle and image that you want to spread, you should share these moments.
Refine by research
there are people out there who are doing something similar or even the same you
are doing. Take your time and check how they present themselves, what they
share with the world and try to find the reasons for things that are not
obvious. If something does not make sense, it could be that the artist you are
checking just did not define his persona well or at all.
is working well for others and evaluate if it makes sense to adapt it for
yourself. Is there an agenda that you can adopt that empowers your vision? Can
you add some quotes, that go well with the mood of your presentation? If yes,
see if it aligns with your image. Don’t throw around rough quotes from mixed
martial arts if you are a Yoga guy who is into zen-like mastery of
self-control. Check methods from similar work fields and see if you find ideas
I added writing blogs because I was inspired by
the work of people like Austin Kleon and Seth Godin. Both are authors but run
their own blog to keep the attention of their readers alive in between book
releases. I might adopt specific tactics from them but tactics are details, and
we are talking strategy now.
If you see
something that works and makes sense for you, just add it to your game plan.
You can always change things if you need to.
Take your time with the process presented in that monster of an article. It took me longer to write it as it is the longest text on that blog. You should also invest the time and not rush the development of your Artist Identity. When you are ready, feel free to share them if you want. Or don’t. However, you feel. But you better be confident about your result.
PS: whenever I talk about share in this article, it means showing it to your audience. This includes appearances in real life and in any media. Just adding this, in case it is not obvious that I am talking general and not only in social media terms.
Apropos “share”: if you dig this article, do me a favour and send it to someone who may need this advice. Much appreciated.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your online presence. People will check your homepage. So be sure it is up-to-date.
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.