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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AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

AMDA's 4 Tips for Acing Your Next Audition

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

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July 2021