Advice for Dancers

Tricia Miranda Wants You to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Dancers

Lee Cherry; Courtesy Tricia Miranda

With dancer and choreographer credits that cover everything from touring with Beyoncé to music videos and even feature films, Tricia Miranda knows more than a thing or two about what it takes to make it. And aspiring dancers are well aware. We caught up with the commercial dance queen last weekend at the Brooklyn Funk convention, where she taught a ballroom full of dancers classes in hip-hop and dancing for film and video.

How To Land An Agency

"At times with the agencies, they already have someone that looks like you or you're just not ready to work. Look has to do with a lot of it, work ethic and also just the type of person you are. Do you have personality? Do people want to work with you? Because you can be the greatest dancer, but if you're not someone that gives off this energy of wanting to get to know you, then it doesn't matter how dope you are because people want to work with who they want to be around. I learned that by later transitioning into a choreographer because now that I'm hiring people, I want to hire the people that I want to be around for 12 or 14 hours a day.

You also have to understand that class dancers are different from working commercial dancers. A lot of class dancers and what you see in these YouTube videos are people who stand out because they're doing what they want and remixing choreography. They're kind of stars in their own right, which is great for class, but when it comes to a job, you have to do the choreography how it's taught."

Focus On Your Own Path

"Just keep going and keep being seen. A lot of these kids want it right away because maybe they see a dancer who it happened for quickly, but that's not everybody's path. I moved to LA when I was 21, it took me three years to get an agent, and it wasn't until I turned 26 that I started booking consistently. It's different for everybody, and you can't put a time stamp on it, so take your time.

It's also very important to train with choreographers who are holding these auditions or are out there choreographing for whatever you want to do—film, television or music videos. There are a lot of times where dancers now get so wrapped up in the YouTube moment that they're only taking these classes because they want to be in YouTube videos. But there are a few choreographers, like myself, who teach classes and are working in the industry with artists and hold auditions."

Put In The Work

"I think a lot of kids feel entitled now because they are given so much. But a lot of us had to pay dues and work really, really hard to figure out how to make it and how to break in. I feel like a lot of us who come from that same generation, like Brian Friedman for instance—he's a generation before me—but he's someone I grew up learning from, and started working under. He hired me as a dancer and later as an assistant choreographer, and now he hires me as a choreographer and we work together on jobs. People like us have longevity because of the process we went through and how hard we worked for it. I like to teach kids how to get there the old school way. I don't hand things to them, and I don't like when things are handed to them because they get over it quickly and then there's nothing to look forward to. I'm still at this excited stage of my career because I know I'm going to transition into creative direction and later just directing. That's what I want to do, so I've always had steps on how to transition over."

Find A Mentor

"I think if you know you're going to want to choreograph at some point, it's important you start to train under a choreographer that you would eventually like to assist or follow their path. Ask them if it's okay if you can train under them or shadow them like an intern for free and just learn. I trained under Fatima Robinson for like six years and I would always watch. I was her assistant choreographer for a few years, and I learned so much from her -- a lot of the tools that she uses, I implement in my training as well."

Embrace The Class Video

"I use the camera as a learning tool. Every choreographer and teacher today is different in their art and have different intentions with their videos. A lot of them are using it to get hype around their name and build their brand. I've always done the same thing, and I haven't changed my formula. I always hold a two-hour class, nothing short of that. I'll do a two to three-hour class, and these dancers have a great warm up, they learn choreography, they do groups and then I videotape at the end. But I'm using it as a learning tool for dancers to understand how to perform on camera and how to perform at an audition. You're often going to have cameras at these auditions, and a lot of dancers freak out when they see the camera, and they mess up and they're not making eye contact and that hurts them. All of the kids that take my classes and you see in my class videos, those are the dancers that are booking a lot of jobs because it's become like second nature to them. If you go back to 2006, 2008, you'll see that I've always taped my classes—it was with a phone, and it was really ghetto and it was completely unedited."

But Don't Get Carried Away

"I'm not a big fan of the over-editing and making it look like a music video—I think that that's something else. I don't think that should be used for class because it's more of a concept video, and I don't think that filming in class should take longer than 15 minutes. Especially if you only have an hour class. You have to make sure you're teaching a great class and not just teaching a class to get great footage. It's all about the students and their learning. They're paying a lot of money to be there, so it's not fair for them to just sit and watch someone film something over and over. If my kids mess up in that tape, I don't let them do it again for camera, they just don't make the video. I'm not going to sit there and have all of these people that are paying the same amount of money watch my dancers go over and over again. If you mess up, you're just not going to make the video and that's okay. You don't have to make every video, it's about the learning process."

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