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.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.