Career Advice
Allison Holker and Logan Hernandez in Christopher Scott's "Say You Won't Let Go," one of the routines that got him an Emmy nomination. Screenshot via YouTube

"So You Think You Can Dance" choreographer Christopher Scott woke up one morning last month, rolled over like he usually does to check his iPhone—and found a barrage of text messages and notifications. The very first text he read was from fellow "SYTYCD" choreographer Mandy Moore: "Congratulations!"

It turned out that he'd just gotten his third Emmy nomination for choreography. (Moore had received one, too.) "We find out at the same time as everyone else," says Scott. "Everything official from the television academy comes through the mail weeks later."

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Career Advice
David Hallberg wants to give choreographers a place to experiment. Photo by Patrick Frenette, courtesy ABT

The Metropolitan Opera House is a stadium; an ornately lush stadium, but one nonetheless. The 3,800-seat challenge that American Ballet Theatre readily tackles is typically filled to capacity because of the stalwarts: Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, the classics that, without doubt, have stood the test of time and have brought people in droves to the Met.

A new commission is a risk best handled by the choreographers who can produce works that offer seasoned polish and dependability. Rarely is it given to an "unknown." And although, in the history of large commissions, there inevitably exists a freedom of creative impulse, that freedom must not reach too deep, for the fall off the cliff is steep and far. There is simply too much at stake: time, money, reputation.

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Career Advice
A successful career takes more than great technique. Photo by Thinkstock

Since its founding in 1999, more than 80,000 ballet dancers have participated in Youth America Grand Prix events. While more than 450 alumni are currently dancing in companies across the world, the vast majority—tens of thousands—never turn that professional corner. And these are just the statistics from one competition.

"You may have the best teacher in the world and the best work ethic and be so committed, and still not make it," says YAGP founder Larissa Saveliev. "I have seen so many extremely talented dancers end up not having enough moti­vation and mental strength, not having the right body type, not getting into the right company at the right time or getting injured at the wrong moment. You need so many factors, and some of these are out of your hands."

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Rant & Rave
Instagram tags don't pay the bills. Photo by Andrei Lazarev/Unsplash

Earlier this week, a friend of a friend reached out to me seeking recommendations for a dancer/choreographer to hire. She wanted someone who could perform a solo and talk about their process for an arts-appreciation club. After a few emails back and forth, as I was trying to find out exactly what kind of choreographer she was looking for, it eventually emerged that she was not looking to pay this person.

"We are hoping to find someone who would be willing to participate in exchange for the exposure," she wrote.

Why do people think this is an okay thing to ask for?

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Career Advice
What was your 2017 income? Photo by Fabian Blank/Unsplash

Dance Magazine asked readers the question you're never supposed to ask: How much money do you make?

More than two hundred readers filled out our online survey about how much they earned through their work in the dance field in 2017. Here is a selection of the user-submitted entries, which have been edited for clarity, consistency and to help ensure anonymity.

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Career Advice
Learning how to invest and deal with tax implications can be a shock. Photo by Pepi Stojanov/Unsplash

Unrestricted grants—those not tied to a specific project or commission—are the holy grail of dance funding. But how do dance artists accustomed to living from project to project handle the sudden influx of capital?

We asked three choreographers who've won these grants multiple times about their experiences.

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Dancers Trending
Keone and Mari Madrid have created a first-of-its-kind dance ebook. Photo via Kickstarter

For the past few years, when Keone and Mari Madrid would try to explain their next big idea to people, they were often met with confusion. The pair—known for their viral dance videos and stint on "World of Dance"—dreamed of making a dance ebook, where text, video, audio and illustration would combine to create an interactive storytelling experience.

Now, years after conceiving the idea, they've done it—and they're on their way to opening the door for more artists to explore the medium. Their ebook, Ruth, follows an elderly woman who has left her retirement home for the first time in years, and is transported to an alternate universe—filled with dance, of course.

We caught up with the duo to hear about the project—and what it was like to work with over 200 dancers in five different countries.

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Career Advice
Reviews help Gabrielle Lamb understand how her works come across. Photo by Glenn Goettler, courtesy Lamb

Love them or not, reviews are part of the ecology of being a dancemaker. Critical writing can validate, illuminate or sometimes get in the way of an artist's creative process. We spoke with five choreographers about their relationship to reviews.

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Career Advice

Behind every virtuosic performance, there is a quiet group of champions. Private patrons are critical to the success of American dance companies. Most large troupes only generate about half of their operating budget from ticket sales, while smaller companies recoup only a fraction. In a country with minuscule government funds allocated to the arts, individual contributors play an indelible role in financing concert dance.

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Dance Training
Nadia Khayrallah wishes she'd been told how much dance work is unpaid. Photo by Eric Bandiero, courtesy Khayrallah

Every year it seems to become more financially difficult to get by as a dancer. But are colleges preparing students for this reality? Some programs teach skills like budgeting, grant writing and marketing. But fewer delve into personal finance, and address what it really takes to dance professionally in today's economy.

Part of the problem is how rapidly the dance world has changed. There were far more full-time company positions available 20 years ago, and many faculty members don't have firsthand experience of today's gig-to-gig landscape. Students today take on more student loan debt and face higher costs of living. Dance professors might also have some form of survivor's bias, as recent Columbia University graduate and New York City–based freelance dancer Nadia Khayrallah points out: They "made it" in the dance world, so their tendency might be to tell students that they'll "make it" too.

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Career Advice
What are your money-saving tricks? Photo by StockSnap

Dancers are not known for bringing in the big bucks. Even commercial dancers, who can land high-paying jobs, often struggle to save enough to see themselves through periods between gigs.

But dancers are nothing if not crafty. We asked five pros for their tips on how to spend and save strategically, no matter how much money you're making.

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Career Advice
Opening AGMA to freelancers—while complex—is conceivable. Photo via Thinkstock.

Now more than ever, dancers are speaking up against abuses of power that have long been considered foregone conclusions. In many cases, these dancers are backed by a union and protected by solidarity. Union representation has traditionally been the purview of established companies, but many dancers working today are freelancers. As dance employment shifts away from the company model, how can independent artists advocate for themselves? Could unionizing ensure them fair treatment? Is a union for freelance dancers even feasible?

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Dance Training
It can be hard to know where to start when you're in the studio alone. Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy SFB

Whether you're a dancer, a choreographer, or both, having time alone in the studio allows artists to grow in ways that class or rehearsal simply doesn't. Yet without other people around to tell you what to do or keep you accountable, it's easy to get stuck staring at yourself in the mirror, wondering where to begin.

Here's how to make the most of your studio time and avoid staring aimlessly back at your reflection:

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Career Advice
Packing cubes, emergency dance clothes and a bathing suit become essentials on the road. Photo by Keith Chan/Unsplash

Touring as a dancer can be the opportunity of a lifetime. But day-to-day life on the road doesn't always come easily.

Four dancers with experience on equity, non-equity, commercial and concert dance tours shared their travel tips and insider perspectives with Dance Magazine.

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Career Advice
The life of a dancer in NYC doesn't come cheap. Photo by Lucas Favre/Unsplash

Dance Magazine asked one anonymous dancer to record how she spent her money over the course of one week. Here's what she sent us.

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Dance Training
Being focused on one style eventually gave Al Blackstone more opportunities. Photo by Daryl A. Getman, Courtesy Blackstone

These days, everyone tells you how important it is to be versatile. But what if you're convinced there's just one style that's right for you? It can be tough to balance a deep interest in a single specialty and still meet many choreographers' expectations. Luckily, you don't have to choose between all in or all over the place, as long as you follow your interests thoughtfully.

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