For those of you who feel like you’ve got the skills but somehow repeatedly find yourself as a spectator to the world you belong in, read on.
Lay the foundation
This article is about getting your foot in door, showing up in front of the right people and manifesting a network of like-minded individuals around you. If you’ve been reading this article series, then you would have begun taking the advice dished out (ahem).
- Have a vision and mission statement
- Understand basic ideas around professionalism & effective communication
- Have digital touch points that consistently convey your identity, skills and contact deets
Look up events, attend them, then follow up.
Go to the thing
Whatever it is that you’d like to get into, identify the events surrounding those topics and go ahead and attend them all. I recommend looking into events that fall outside the dance industry. Want to work on music videos, campaigns or become the face of an international campaign? Why not consider going to events within the music industry, film industry and photography industry? It’s not just your fellow dancers who will hire you, it’s the directors, marketing executives and campaign producers. Go live your best life and see who you meet.
No matter who you meet, whether you deem them ‘important’ or not, if you feel like you guys connected, follow up the next day. Simply drop them an IG message, email or text (that you got from them the night before) and say a simple hi, remind them of who you are and mention how much you loved chatting about *insert that d&m you guys had about teddy bears here.*
In the best case scenario you might find out that person is Kanye West’s manager who now wants to hire you as the head choreographer. Worst case scenario you bonded with someone and you both exchanged deets. Just follow up.
Why wait? Approach first!
A lot of dancers/people in general lament this world in which certain people get all the glory/jobs/fame. The world isn’t always fair, but on that note – how are you supposed to be noticed by someone who has literally never seen or heard of you?
Do your research and offer a contribution
I constantly get approached by dancers with blanket (overly formal) application letters, standard CVs and general ‘ hey I’m available to work just letting you know’ kind of vibe. Ummm cool story bro. You haven’t once mentioned what you like about Groove Therapy, what kind of skill sets you’re offering (Krump? Photog? Ballet? Event planning?) and what you’d like to offer in return.
Want to work with someone? Open up the conversation with them by mentioning what you value in their organisation. Perhaps you read a recent article about philanthropic work they did and felt particularly moved by that aspect of their organisation. Mention it! End by offering thoughtful solutions to their bottom line and asking for the opportunity to discuss it all via a coffee.
Not ready for a paid role? Volunteer!
Not quite a marketing pro with the requisite experience for a pay check but dying to learn about the back end of the dance industry? Volunteer. I mean let’s be honest, the arts industry isn’t exactly ballin’ so we often need a lot more help than we can afford. As a wise philosopher once said:
Started from the bottom now we here.Drake
Volunteering at events in ticketing, as an usher or helping with costume changes backstage is a huge help whilst allowing you to observe how things work BTS.
On the administrative end of the spectrum, ask about internships. A perk when interning for a small organisation is they will often throw you in the deep end, forcing you to do some quick Googles and up-skilling on the spot.
So much learning. Wins for all!
I still volunteer. In fact, I’m currently volunteering as the head of set design for an Indian classical dance performance this coming October. Why? I’d love to produce and choreograph my own full-length dance work one day so I’m trying to learn the ropes of directing these sort of full length productions. I’m also a big believer in small community-based initiatives so I’m volunteering just to add to the vibrance of a small arts organisation. You’re never too old or too experienced to volunteer for things.
Volunteers are the first people to randomly drop-off or call in sick on the day of the event because there isn’t really anything contractually locking them in to show up.
This is great news for you. Why? Well in comparison to your arrival 15 minutes early, three other volunteers never turned up. Simply showing up, completing tasks diligently and returning to ask what else you can do makes you look like a SUPERSTAR.
As one of the organisers of the We’re All Going To Die festival, I rely heavily on volunteers. Whenever we do a new iteration of this festival, we call up previous exceptional volunteers and offer them paid volunteer management roles. We also write up references for these people when they go on to apply for other roles.
Volunteering means you can pick up some great skills on how to run the backend of events of organisations. However, overdelivering gives you the leverage to email that organisation with a follow-up email afterwards and ask for a coffee, advice, referral letters or the chance to potentially work with them.
A lot of dancers seem to fret over their physical or digital image and spend little to no time actually building human relationships with others. Getting your foot in the door isn’t about creating the ideal online profile and then patiently waiting for someone to notice you. Truly getting your foot in the door is about looking at how you can add value to another person or organisation’s existence in return for the experience or work opportunities they can give you. This is truly how to live life – championing reciprocity.
Groove Therapy is an organisation that focuses on dance as a vehicle for mental, physical and social change. Through an unrelenting obsession to learn, unlearn and contribute to the betterment of humanity, Groove Therapy teaches beginner weekly ‘no mirror, dim lights’ classes across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia. For those who cannot geographically attend, Groove Therapy has a series of online courses. Get out of your head and into your body. Dance a little baby.