Pace University students. Photo by Eduardo Patino, Courtesy Pace University

What It Takes to Make It As A Commercial Dancer

The commercial dance world is full of exciting opportunities for dancers: music videos, Broadway shows, international concert tours. But how do dancers develop the skill set needed to survive in such a fast-paced industry? College is one option, and a few programs focus specifically on commercial dance. Here's how Studio School, Los Angeles and Pace University prepare students for a demanding career:


1. Versatility

Photo by Chandler Kravitz, Courtesy Studio School

Commercial dancers need to be prepared to tackle a wide variety of gigs, so students take classes like tap, circus arts, hip hop, ballroom, aerial work, improvisation and more.

2. Entrepreneurial skills

Photo by Eduardo Patino, Courtesy Pace

Image and online presence are key to landing jobs in the commercial world. Students learn about branding, marketing and social media as part of their curriculums.

3. Networking

Photo by Eduardo Patino, Courtesy Pace

Pace students can travel to Los Angeles and meet with agents, who regularly attend showcases and performances. Talent agency McDonald/Selznick Associates helped shape Studio School's curriculum, so students are learning skills that agents wish their clients knew.

4. Acting chops

Photo by Chandler Kravitz, Courtesy Studio School

Studio School students take 26 credits of on-camera acting technique, and Pace students study acting and singing.

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Moving Forward by Looking Back: A Week at the L.A. Tap Festival Online

I turned to tap at the outset of the European lockdown as a meaningful escape from the anxiety of the pandemic. As a dance historian specialized in dance film, I've seen my fair share of tap on screen, but my own training remains elementary. While sheltering in place, my old hardwood floors beckoned. I wanted to dig deeper in order to better understand tap's origins and how the art form has evolved today. Not so easy to accomplish in France, especially from home.

Enter the L.A. Tap Fest's first online edition.

Alongside 100 other viewers peering out from our respective Zoom windows, I watch a performer tap out rhythms on a board in their living room. Advanced audio settings allow us to hear their feet. In the chat box, valuable resources are being shared and it's common to see questions like, "Can you post the link to that vaudeville book you mentioned?" Greetings and words of gratitude are also exchanged as participants trickle in and out from various times zones across the US and around the world.

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