Cornish College of the Arts students in Kyle Abraham's "When We Take Flight." Photo by Joseph Lambert and Jena Wijtman, Courtesy Cornish

We Asked All The Scary Networking Questions So You Don't Have To

Working with guest artists is an integral part of the college dance experience. Visiting choreographers expose students to new styles and ways of working, and give them a glimpse of life as a professional. But with a relatively short amount of time to make an impression, forming a relationship with a visiting artist can feel like a daunting task. Here's what you should know about networking with guests:

Q: Is it appropriate to follow up with guests after the process has ended?

A: "Most of our guests are very open to having connections with students continue, and being communicated with via email and Facebook," says Cornish College faculty member Deborah Wolf. "They understand that's the way things work." For choreographer David Parker, "I tell them to keep me posted on what they're doing and ask me for help and advice. I'm a bridge to the professional world for them, and I take that responsibility seriously."


David Parker's "Head Over Heels." Photo by Yi-Chun Wu, Courtesy Parker

Q: Can I add a guest choreographer on Facebook?

A: According to Parker, feel free to add them after the process is over. But take note: The same rule doesn't apply if you're talking about a faculty member—you may want to wait until after you graduate to connect with them on social media.

Q: How do I express my interest without being too forward?

A: "Be professional but accessible," says Wolf. "Don't ask for anything, but communicate your desires. There's a fine line there." Parker prefers when students are direct. "If they're interested, they should say, 'I love your work and I hope to work with you.' " But proving you're interested is what's most important. "If you say it, you have to back it up," says Lex Shimko, CalArts graduate.

Lex Shimko. Photo by George Simian and Beata Bernina, courtesy Diavolo

Q: Should I try to connect with guests on a personal level?

A: "I don't care if they're curious about my life outside of rehearsal," says Parker. "More that they're curious about how we do things."

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