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How These 5 Dance Skills Can Help You Thrive in a New Career
Never did I think I'd see the day when I'd outgrow dance. Sure, I knew my life would have to evolve. In fact, my dance career had already taken me through seasons of being a performer, a choreographer, a business owner and even a dance professor. Evolution was a given. Evolving past dancing for a living, however, was not.
Transitioning from a dance career involved just as much of a process as building one did. But after I overcame the initial identity crisis, I realized that my dance career had helped me develop strengths that could be put to use in other careers. For instance, my work as a dance professor allowed me to discover my knack for connecting with students and helping them with their careers, skills that ultimately opened the door for a pivot into college career services.
Here's how five dance skills can land you a new job—and help you thrive in it:
Auditioning Sets You Up for Sales
PC Jim Lafferty
From preparing to performing to accepting the win or swallowing the loss, auditioning sharpens skills that could be put to use in sales roles. The competitive edge, strategizing and tough skin dancers develop through auditioning are qualities of successful realtors, marketers and account executives. If the idea of selling doesn't resonate with you, auditioning has also prepared you to be a pro at interviewing.
Turn Branding Into a Full-Time Job
Creating your image has become a vital component of building a successful dance career. A strong brand includes capturing the right pictures and videos as well as growing your visibility in the right circles. Knowing how to position yourself in a market can lend itself well to marketing or public relations roles. Many dancers transition into photography jobs, using the skills they've learned at photoshoots and through curating their own social media brands. Experience building a strong social media presence could also make for a successful social media or content manager.
Choreographing Makes You A Leader
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, PC Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB
Choreographers do so much more than craft movement. Not only do they use dance to make a statement, but they also oversee dancers, problem-solve and teach. Anyone with extensive choreography experience is well versed in managing time, resources and people. A choreographer's skill at overseeing many moving parts is exactly what's needed to be a successful project manager or event planner. Choreography experience translates well to nearly any role that calls for organization and leadership.
Performing Can Lead to Public Speaking
ODC dancer Josie G. Sadan. Photo by Andrew Weeks
Getting on stage in front of a group of strangers takes courage and confidence. If you're able to present yourself well in front of an audience, you'll be able to do so in a number of settings. Performers know how to think on their feet, multi-task and recover quickly when things don't go as planned. These skills could be a stepping stone to a career that involves public speaking, like media or politics.
Take Your Teaching Skills Outside Dance
Photo by Eduardo Patino, courtesy of The Ailey School
Teaching dance is about more than the dance itself. Dance teachers break down complex steps, support and challenge their students' minds and bodies, and are well-versed in conflict resolution. Your experience as a dance teacher could obviously translate well into other teaching roles, either teaching dance at a higher level or a different subject altogether. Classroom management skills also pair well with corporate training or coaching roles, and supporting students and resolving conflict are useful skills for school or family counselors.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
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.' "
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.
The ballet world will converge on San Francisco this month for San Francisco Ballet's Unbound: A Festival of New Works, a 17-day event featuring 12 world premieres, a symposium, original dance films and pop-up events.
"Ballet is going through changes," says artistic director Helgi Tomasson. "I thought, What would it be like to bring all these choreographers together in one place? Would I discover some trends in movement, or in how they are thinking?"