Dance Training
Remember: The bully is the weaker person. Photo by Francisco Gonzalez/Unsplash

Being bullied, unfortunately, is still a common experience among dance students, particularly male dance students. But there are a variety of strategies that you can use to help deal with difficult emotions and restore self-confidence.

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Dance Training
Name calling, physical intimidation and cyberbullying are all-too-common experiences among male dancers. Photo by Goh Rhy Yan/Unsplash

Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.

"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "

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Career Advice
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Dancers and choreographers must be strong, clear communicators when it comes to negotiating contracts and agreements. That's part of the philosophy espoused by A. Nia Austin-Edwards, the founder of PURPOSE Productions, a Brooklyn-based organization that provides strategic support to artists throughout the U.S.

One of the reasons many dance artists struggle to negotiate successfully for themselves is what Austin-Edwards refers to as a scarcity mindset. "The scarcity of work and money allows people to say yes to some really outrageous things," she says. For example, dancers might accept a much smaller fee than what they feel they deserve, or tolerate body-shaming remarks from a choreographer because they reason "At least I have health insurance."

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Career Advice
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Although discussing money is often considered taboo, it's an essential skill for choreographers looking to produce work and directors wanting to build their companies. "Fundraising is a practice, like rehearsing a dance," says Stephen Clapp, executive director of Dance Metro DC, which provides support, promotion, education and advocacy for dance artists and organizations in the Washington, DC, area.

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Career Advice
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When dancers are unhappy or uncomfortable in the studio, healthy communication is essential. Perhaps you feel slighted by a casting decision, dissatisfied with a new rehearsal schedule or uneasy about something a choreographer has asked you to do.

What can you do? Here are three strategies to keep in mind.

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Dancers Trending
PC Andreas Branch

There may be six musicians playing right behind her, but in "Evolution of Tap Dance," a viral video from music group Postmodern Jukebox, tap dancer Sarah Reich is clearly the bandleader. Her transitions are seamless as she guides the band from a sultry, understated rendition of the bossa nova classic "Wave" to a hard-hitting tribute to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk." It's the perfect role for a budding choreographer exploring how tap can become an integral part of popular music.

The 28-year-old not only wants to help earn tap more recognition as percussive music, but also use that music to get more people excited about tap as an art form. "I want to continue to bring tap into mass media with great respect and quality," she says, focusing on "reprogramming the minds of the general public on their perception of tap dance."

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Career Advice
Off Beat at Beantown Tap Fest, via Instagram

At one point during my latest show, Unbound, I scamper offstage and disrobe as quickly as possible. Behind me, a friend I have known since we began taking dance class together 20 years ago (we danced to "The Color Song"; she was orange, I was purple) holds out a dress shirt for me to put my arms through. I start buttoning furiously while my dance partner, who was also one of my tap teachers for six years, holds out pants into which I step gingerly. While I fix my belt, she helps snake the microphone wire back up through my shirt so I can clip it into my collar and be back onstage in under a minute.

Among most groups of friends, this would be no ordinary—or comfortable—situation. But for me and the members of my company, Off Beat, it's a ritual that we're used to. We don't even think twice about the closeness, the vulnerability, the physical contact.

Dancers develop bonds unlike any other: Through our passion and commitment for our craft, and all the time we spend together, we develop our own family-like relationships that are almost impossible to explain to non-dancers.

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Career Advice
Morgan Lugo, Courtesy Joyce Theater

Find out what exactly dance companies are looking for and book your next gig.

During my company's fledgling years, I remember emailing a promising venue in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, hoping to include them in my plans for an upcoming tour. Unfamiliar with the typical process of getting presented, I had no idea what I was in for. I hadn't anticipated that it would take almost two years of persistent follow-ups to confirm their interest, finalize a date and discuss logistics. And that was just for a one-night appearance!

For emerging dance companies, booking a gig can seem even more daunting than choreographing a new work. With so many ensembles vying for a limited number of performances each season, the competition can be overwhelming. Finding the right venue can feel like an impossible match. And while juggling artistic, financial and logistical elements, it feels all too easy to overlook an important detail that might cost you a booking. This month, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters' annual conference will connect eager companies to decision-makers from venues all over the country. But what are they looking for? Dance Magazine talked to top presenters about their pet peeves, dos and don'ts, and advice for helping a company get noticed—and get jobs.

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