Updated: Oct 6, 2019
What a subject I've chosen to blog about but one that I desperately want to break open and smash to bits as there are too many limits on what we 'think' a dancer can achieve and what they are capable of achieving.
What can a dancer achieve? This is a little like saying what would you like for Christmas. Obviously through training, a dancer develops advanced skills in technique, flexibility and complexity of dance steps. They have an evolved dance style, exceptional capability and excellent performance skills. But apart from their obvious talent, a graduate professional dancer has a drilled set of skills formed during their training, for example: organisational skills; dedication & commitment to a project; an understanding of the body and music; awareness of emotive stimuli; a connection to communicate creatively; a discipline to create routine tasks; easily adaptable and capable of working with difficult personalities. They are seriously focused, adaptable and insanely capable of picking instructions up fast, they are also self managed...
What I mean by that is ...
They have a plan of what to achieve
Break the plan down into actionable steps
Implement those actionable steps
Manage time for working, organising finances, tax returns, searching for new work, preparations for current work, development of new work or projects, networking, collaborating, marketing, advertising, social media, personal life interests, friends, family.
Having or learning the skills in business (Selling your talent)
Establishing an identity for a career
Keeping technique and training fresh
Where to start?
If you are undecided in how you want your dance talent to make its mark on the world then there are two paths listed here. Within these are multiple options (I am in the process of creating presentations to further clarify so watch this space :)
1. Public, Community and Charity:
You can build a good relationship in this sector that has longevity e.g. in primary schools; secondary schools; colleges; universities; science and research; arts and culture; community organisations; charities; hospitals...basically anything that is funded by the government. (Check out my funding blog from April as it has a list with links to help finance projects, training, research, development etc).
2. Private & Commercial :
There are lots of opportunities to work with privately owned businesses: dance schools, dance companies, production companies, agents, management companies, talent scouts, casting directors, producers, general businesses not associated with dance (most businesses over 10 employees like to use creative ways to promote, advertise and market).
Basically any business that trades. There is no reason why you can't look up your local businesses and pitch a project or service to them :)
Most professionally trained dancers aim to perform with production or dance companies. There are thousands of dancers that graduate each year along with those currently not working; so graduates need to be aware that jobs get saturated - but it doesn't mean it can't be you.
Do you fit in their job spec?...It really is about fitting into a check list for what they are looking for so don't be disheartened with the rejections - think of it as a game; the more times you try the more chance of a yes! This career is about being at the right place, right time with the right people and ticking their box. I can remember a cruise ship audition I attended.... many... many years ago...there were hundreds of us and they farmed us in like cattle, separated us in groups on looks, shoe size, dress size, leg length, height and hair colour before anyone danced a step! (I ended up getting the job though... i was glad they wanted a short-arsed Scouse blonde lol).
If you are collaborating with organisations e.g. Working in schools: an approach that may help is to look at your service as helping them e.g. If you are doing PPA or after school activities it ticks a box in providing professional activities and the school proves it connects with outside companies (Most schools are required to engage with their surrounding community and businesses. You may be entitled to use their facilities depending on their policy so worth connecting). If you are trained as a teaching assistant or fully trained educational teacher you have the added skills to deliver more than what is required: you become their asset to raise the bar in their deliverance eg They have the opportunity for children's activities in health, wellbeing, getting active, dance, gymnastics etc It is about looking at yourself as a sellable product that your customer needs.
So what is there for a dancer after training?
Focus! This is due to the world being such a big place. You need to focus on 'what' you want to do then 'where' to look to get there. Then it's the 'how' are you going to do it. We are in a fortunate time where creativity, technology and innovation is prominent in most businesses. The online sector for arts and culture is growing phenomenally which is why there are so many opportunities for you to tap into. This is the exciting part but my advice is FOCUS as you do not want to spread yourself too thinly. Allow yourself to be open to opportunities, new connections, network with lots of people from various backgrounds and you will get the experience, work, connections and most importantly be in control of your career.
Some fabulous examples of what you are capable of:
As a dancer you have skills to create work and slot into a situation to help others solve a problem. I would like to share real examples from my podcast guests and hope it enforces just how open your options are.
Sharon Collins - Smile Productions. Episode 15
A friend mentioned their company was looking for a team building day so I created a day of activities, pitch it to them and won the contract. I hired a venue and had them doing challenges, dance routines and a performance. It was filmed with a before and after speech of their capability. Amazing results from taking them out of their comfort zone and it gave me loads of material to promote my events.
Tori Drew - One Dance UK. Episode 16
A school wanted a creative rhythm music class but I didn't know anything about music but I did know about dance so got in touch and asked if I could do a body percussion workshop. They loved it and it was really easy too!
You are capable to creating and delivering anything to get those pennies in your bank and through doing it you gain experience, networking, innovative creativity along with material for promotion on the way:) Remember to set aside 20% of your income so you can be proactive in managing your finances.
OK so the excitement of graduation has gone and it is time to hit the job scene to earn a wage from doing what you've been trained to do. You've decided what you want and your going to the auditions and trying your hardest to get a job. Your agent, manager or parents are working hard to find you opportunities too. You can't afford to live of air and hang about while you wait for an opportunity... so it is fabulous to know that YOU can CREATE projects, products, services or collaborations to make it happen. Production companies don't expected you to starve waiting for their castings but they do expect you to be resourceful. Sell yourself better than any agent or mother out there as you are your own business, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT. If you are in control of your workload you can adapt, attend auditions and be in control.
"The path you decide may not be the one you walk but it will be an adventure not to be missed"
I like this quote ... a little bias as I wrote it but too many dancers fall at the first hurdle, thinking they have failed if they haven't got their dream job, or a job they think they are 'expected' to have. At these times remember you have been put on this earth for a reason and that is to share your talent!. So never doubt yourself and keep a positive mindset as the impact you have on people around you everyday radiates and grows the more you connect and engage with people. Naturally by doing this it creates opportunities so never give up, keep on getting yourself out there and doing what you love.
So the question of this blog, what can be achieved?
The answer is anything. Another answer is that you are already capable of doing it now! Working with companies, collaborating with artistes, teaching at private dance schools or in our educational system. Working within social media, journalism, broadcasting, theatre, your community or health sector you are capable of doing it now.
You WILL come across your negative voice that stops you from developing to your full potential. This is because we are predominately built with a survivor subconscious that doubts, double checks, produces worst case scenarios then throws in the 'stay safe and do nothing' mode. This isn't how we achieve, it is best to have your negative voice turned down, or off and listen to the voice that tells you all your possibilities. You will feel such an achievement and have new experiences to prove your life is being lived.
* Fab Fact
There are 7.6 billion people living on this planet and not one of them have the same identity. Remember you can achieve your goals because there is only one you!
Catch up on all 22 episodes of Dance Inspire UK podcast show: A broadcast for dancers, teachers and entrepreneurs to excel in what they do best. Available on iTunes and directly through my website www.gillianbeattie.com. / www.danceinspireuk.com