Graduating from College Dance
Graduating from College Dance

I’ve just graduated from college dance …now what do I do?

  • March 17, 2014
  • by Emily Yewell Volin

1. Define Success

What does success look and feel like to you? Write a personal mission statement (there are lots of templates available online) and reference it often. Be honest about what makes you feel happy and successful. Do you value flexibility and creativity above all, or do you thrive in an environment with clear deadlines and initiatives?

2. Be Realistic About Money

There is no reason why a career in dance cannot be profitable. Sometimes the starving artist image remains the ideal when, in fact, there are ways to earn a reasonable living. Never be ashamed of making money through your mastery of the art form. Of course, some positions offer more financial security than others. Be realistic about what is going to work for you and your situation. Sadly, freelance performance opportunities are typically not well compensated, so a second income is often necessary. Look for positions with organizations that offer benefits and flexible hours. Also, many franchise businesses offer transfer opportunities among cities.

3. Take Class

A dancer must remain a dancer, even between jobs. Your budget must include weekly dance and cross training. Go the gym, cross train and take technique classes at a studio. Many cities have an active community of professionals who take turns teaching classes to each other in the various studios where they maintain relationships. Join or start a community class.

4. Add Certifications

Are you interested in teaching something physical, but not necessarily dance technique? Explore certification opportunities for practices like yoga, Pilates, BeMoved®, PurBarre®, spin classes and others.

5. Audition and Interview

Attend auditions on a regular basis and practice your interview skills. Practice builds experience and confidence, and professional connections.

6. Travel

Many people do not live within driving distance of a city bursting with audition opportunities. Make plans to ‘try on’ other cities. Visit during the week when you can see the city and its offerings in action. Take classes, meet people and ask about intern and summer opportunities. There are frequently opportunities to work at a studio in exchange for some hours of classes per week. You might find living in a city with a bustling dance scene is something you can afford.

7. Stay Active in the Field

The dance world is close knit. Become and stay active in the field and volunteer or work within it as much as possible. Research organizations and find some that meet your ideals. Meet with the director(s) and see if there are ways you can support their work. Positive energy breeds more positive energy. Surrounding yourself with inspiring people and projects will keep you energized, making connections and dreaming big.

8. Get Social

Create or update a webpage, blog, Facebook and/or LinkedIn account. Be sure your personal information is protected. I recommend you maintain a public FB page where you only post professional materials. Your separate personal FB page should always be private. Update your headshot, your demo reel, CV and résumé and keep them ready for quick distribution. These tools help create an easily communicable snapshot of you and your work.

9. Solicit References

Add relevance to your social media and hard-copy professional representation by adding soliciting letters or notes of reference to the profiles. LinkedIn has a particularly relevant format where notes are entered into your profile and available for viewing. Also, reach out to a few key mentors for key words they would use to describe you, your skills and your working habits. List your strongest qualities and abilities as part of your social profiles.

10. It is okay to say ‘no’

Resist feeling desperate for work. Research, plan and work deliberately. Reference your personal mission statement, and say ‘no’ to opportunities that do not meet your criteria. Every step, no matter how small, should be a deliberate choice to move in the direction of your dreams. Maintain your focus and take charge of your own success and happiness.

Produced by Dance Informa.

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