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business

Dance Business Possibilities: How to make it work

We already talked about the elements 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. I separate those into primary possibilities and secondary ones. The primary ones are the things that directly involve your dancing skills, and the secondary ones are things that you can apply your dance knowledge to and therefore turn 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 as “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, musicals, commercial shows, street shows 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 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 stability and security. As soon as your classes are 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 your crew. As no serious agency gives gigs to people they don’t know, you will meet many people aspiring to a dance career that might be future colleagues on stage.

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 ten 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 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 creative with this one. The best thing about making events happen is that you meet many people who dance too. If you treat them well, they will eventually become a great addition to your professional network.

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

This list is a bit longer and more creative than before. Most of the following jobs are perfectly doable without any dance knowledge. But being able to dance or having the daily practice you need to stay on top of your game will give you an edge. Sometimes, 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 better understand 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 many 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. Especially when you are writing for companies and brands, knowing your way around the principles of search engine optimisation pays off a lot, as your text will create constant traffic via organic search.

Commentary

Be it on your own channels, 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, which already has multilingual commentary, the demand for dance expertise will only rise.

Acting

Sometimes a role asks for someone well versed in 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 many colleagues who 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 many events and get paid. At good events, the DJs do 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

Go for it when you have the taste and skills to create danceable music. 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/whatever teacher

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

Judging

If you build yourself a reputation that will get you invited to judge significant events, then you can earn money by judging. This said, you need to get to the big battles. Smaller competitions can pay you most of the time, but the income is insignificant.

With breaking into the realm of Olympia in Paris 2024, judging will become a stronger option as all the events leading up to Olympia require certified judges. Get this certification if you want to judge WDSF events that qualify for the Olympics.

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 them to the list. And I will give credit 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 those from a non-dancer (the second list of secondaries). This makes negotiating higher fees/salaries easier.
  3. you cannot yet 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 cannot 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 full-time 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.

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blog

Jasmin Rituper in Tanzcafé #8

In another episode of Tanzcafé, I sat down with the prolific performer and content-creator Jasmin Rituper. She is a dancer but prefers to call herself a movement artist, to avoid labels and prejudice.

She trained many styles and worked in Austria, Amsterdam, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. All of her experiences as a dancer, as well as a spiritual being, led to the creation of her own movement method, called Mechanimal Movement.

Check out her story in Tanzcafé #8, as usual for the podcast – in German language.

Find or share this episode:

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blog

Messy beginnings: Be brave and early

“Messy beginnings:” Doing something that has never been done, or at least has never been done in a specific context. Infrastructure is missing, issues are fixed with patches and bandages. The result is a patchwork from a few or many enthusiastic people that work towards a common goal.

Different people bring different experiences and different opinions, which often leads to disagreements on how to do things. That is the hard part of being first in a new space. But it is also the beauty of the process. Different brains on the same topic, give the option to do things better than in streamlined environments, where we have a “correct” way of doing things.

Working in a new, messy environment gives us room for innovation. That is what’s happening right now with Breaking at Olympia. It is also what is happening with NFTs. Both are messy beginnings and have massive potential to change breaking and business with breaking forever.

Don’t ignore things, just because they are messy. Innovation always is.

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blog

Let’s find new ways to do business with art

2020 and 2021 taught me that doing business with art in the way we did relies way too much on things that I can’t control. I also learned that I absolutely detest that. So what can one do, who spent half of his life dancing, teaching, and producing dance. Doing something else is not an option. Honestly, it would be too easy.

From now on, I will embark on a journey to find new ways to work with art. Ways that are more self-sufficient and less reliable on existing structures or gate-keepers.

In the tech world, decentralization is the buzzword that promises solutions to issues that only arise because we gave too much control to people who only care for profits, and not for the art. We can do the same in art. Finding alternative places to show what we do, move even more in the public space and at the same time in the digital realm. There are new distribution models that promise proof of ownership and direct compensation flowing from the audience to the artist, without being eaten up by middlemen.

I am excited to take a deep dive into these new opportunities. Let’s see what the future brings.

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tanzcafe

Tanzcafé with Funky Mike

Tanzcafé with Funky Mike, aka Munky Fike, is live now. We talked about his story, the dance, the early days in Austria and the development that he witnessed.

Honest opinions, an unbroken love for the hip hop culture and stories of 25 years of dancing are what awaits you. Enjoy.

As usual, Tanzcafé is in the German language.

Where to find the Tanzcafé Podcast?

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tanzcafe

Tanzcafè with Joflow

The new episode of the Tanzcafé Podcast is out now. This time I talk to Joana aka Joflow, who is the founder of the female artist collective All Aut Females*. Find out about her story in dance, how she balances dance and being a proud mother, and what motivated her to start All Aut Females*.

As usual, Tanzcafè Podcast is in the German language.

Categories
business

Cash Flow: How to make it sustainable as a dancer

Cash Flow is the way we use our money to handle life. It is not exactly something that we are usually taught in school, but it absolutely should be. For artists, a smart cashflow can bring you into a position that enables you to create more, and live the life you want. The points that cover here are valid for everyone, but I use examples from the dance world.

If you want to read up on the matter in depth: Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant from Robert Kyosaki cover those topics in easily understandable language. There is better literature if you are already in the matter but those are a perfect starting point if you want to dig deeper.

The predominant model – the Rat Race cash flow

This is how to set up you cashflow if you want to stay in the rat race forever

The majority of people work a job and directly spend the money to cover their fixed cost and additional expenses. It is what is taught in schools. Get a good education, get a good job.

The issue with this model is that at the moment, you are not able to work (or don’t want to), you have no way of covering your costs. Smart fellas have a few months of savings, but it does not change the fact that you depend on your work.

Some folks consider this to be the modern form of slavery. But that is a debate for another day.

The smart cashflow that can lead to financial independence

A cashflow setup that might free you from the dependence on trading your work time for money

The smarter set-up is to put your work into creating assets that make you money and pay your costs from the income produced by those assets. Assets can be anything that generates income without the need to constantly spend your time on them. Probably the most famous asset, which is also easy to understand, would be real estate. You can rent it out and get money from it. As long as you earn more from the rent than it costs you to maintain the facility, you have a positive cash flow that does not depend on yourself. Other traditional assets would be a company you own or stocks (that come with some risk).

But we don’t have the money to buy a house! Me neither. Luckily, there are many cheaper assets that you can start working on right now, based on your dance skills

Examples of this would be online education based on recorded videos instead of live streams. It can also be books, recorded performances that require a fee to watch, templates for papers that people need, stock images of your artwork and whatever you can come up with.

The significant advantage of the income from those assets is its independence from your work. As soon as you have them up, they can sell while you do other things or sleep. 

In the final stage (call it your endgame if you want), when your income from assets is higher than your costs of living, you can feed the money back into creating more assets.

How do we get there?

The abstract process to optimise your cash flow is really easy, like with most concepts. You start to build your first assets, which provide a little income. This money either goes directly into creating new assets or covers part of your fixed costs. This gives you a little bit of leverage (time or money) to continue building your reputation and assets. Now you repeat the process until your assets provide for your life.

The execution is not as easy, of course. Let me give you an example based on some real numbers from my own career. Suppose writing books would be the only way I had to create assets. At the moment I have only one book on the market. In the first three months of 2021, the average income through its sales was 91 bucks. Not a lot to write home about. 

Let’s do some math. Imagine I have ten of those. Without considering that people who grabbed one book are more likely to buy more, there would be 910 bucks a month. Having 20 would be enough to make a living without doing any other work. Writing 20 books would surely take some time, and neither writing nor reading is for everyone. But in dance, there are way more options than just amassing books to sell. Having the right offer at the right time can make a substantial difference. 

Be brave and be bold. Now is the time to make the change and take your financial well-being into your own hands.

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blog documentation tanzcafe

Tanzcafé with Olivia, Sina, Jaekwon and Chris Cross

In the last weeks, life was a roller coaster. I neglected writing for the blog, the newsletter and promoting the new podcast episodes. Despite not promoting them, I recorded and published. As life is getting a little bit more stable again, meet the Tanzcafé episodes 2-5 with the amazing Olivia, Sina, Jaekwon and Chris Cross.

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documentation tanzcafe

Tanzcafé #1 with Da Bürgermasta is out

Tanzcafé with Manuel Pölzl aka Da Bürgermasta is now available. Check it out on Spotify or Transistor.

Follow Da Bürgermasta on Instagram.

Subscribe to Tanzcafé Podcast on Spotify or Transistor.fm.

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tanzcafe

Tanzcafé Podcast is now live

I launched a new project called “Tanzcafé Podcast.” It is a show in German language where I talk to people from the Austrian hip hop dance scene about their dance, life, work and passion.

This is the intro episode that introduces the format.