How to Get Your First Dance Gig

Marshall Ayers Career Advice, Dance, How To, Performing Arts

You’ve spent years training, taking classes, rehearsing and performing, and you’re finally ready to start auditioning for a professional dance gig! Congratulations!

Of course, you go to auditions to show off your dance skills, but there are a lot of things you can do before and after your turn to increase your chances of getting hired. We’ve seen lots of young dancers come through our doors in Los Angeles at Invertigo Dance Theatre so we know what behavior will, and will not result in you not getting you first dance gig.

By Tara Aesquivel & Leslie Scott of Invertigo Dance Theatre

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1) Do your homework

Spend a little time looking at the programming the company does before you go, and make sure it’s a good fit for you. Watch videos of the company’s performances online, and get a feel for anything specific they might require so that you can highlight those skills in your audition. Do they do a lot of partner work? Do the dancers also sing or play instruments? Also, look the part: If it’s a contemporary dance audition, don’t show up in pink tights and pointe shoes.


2) Pay attention to details!

Read the audition posting three times. If you call or email the company to ask about something that is listed in the posting, it sends the message that you are not detail-oriented and you don’t want the job enough to read the information they provided.


3) Attend other events

Look for other programming that the company does and try to attend a workshop, performance, or lecture, and try to introduce yourself! Companies love to know that you are interested in their work even before you want a job with them. Plus, you’ll have a leg up if you can walk into an audition and the director already knows your name.


4) Professionalism!

You may be an artist, but you must be a professional, too. This includes staying up on your technique, promptly responding to any emails or calls, and being on time for the audition. (On time means early. If the audition starts at 3 pm, you should be ready to dance at 3 pm, not walking through the door.) Professionalism also includes the way you talk about other companies. You might also want to become well-known in your field, which could be achieved by keeping an active social media account like Facebook or Instagram. You could make use of dance instagram captions and other similar techniques to more to gain more traction on your social media. Remaining positive about the entire field will let others know you are thoughtful and considerate.


5) Be nice. Always.

It might sound obvious but we can’t stress this enough. The dance community is small (even in a big city) and people talk to each other when it comes to hiring dancers and collaborators. You want to have a name built up for yourself that speaks to both your artistry and that you are a pleasure to work with.
Now get out there and dance your heart out! Merde!

Enjoy this trailer from a recent Invertigo Dance Theatre performance called “Reeling”

_MG_5106bTara Aesquivel is an advocate for the arts and education. She studied music at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, arts management at Carnegie Mellon University, at cultural economics at the University of Bologna. Tara’s professional experience includes strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, and community outreach for LA Opera, A Noise Within, and The Lukens Company, and she is thrilled to be Invertigo Dance Theatre’s first Executive Director. Tara serves on Advisory Boards for Inner-City Arts, Emerging Arts Leaders/LA, and the Tafter Journal, and may otherwise be found traveling, running, or changing diapers.

1cca4e9Leslie Scott is the founder and AD of BODYART and an International producer and educator for dance. Her work has been performed in notable venues from LA, NYC, Dallas, Edinburgh and New Zealand. The Decay Project, a dance film residency program, was created to partner with local communities and has just finished their third residency in Christchurch New Zealand. The company is looking toward upcoming projects in Malaysia & Indonesia in 2016. Locally Ms Scott works with Invertigo Dance Theatre. Scott is an MFA candidate at CalArts in 2016 and is also certified sommelier.

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Marshall Ayers
Arts education specialist with 25+ years experience in non-profit organizations and public educational settings. Marshall founded Artzray to create a community of young, multidisciplinary artists who are seeking professional, practical and personal career resources. Marshall lives and works in LA with her family, but hails from the east coast. When she's not working on Artzray, she would rather be sailing, reading or listening to her son play cello.
Marshall Ayers