Développé This: 5Tips forBuilding a SuccessfulDance Career by Shaté L. Edwards I

f you had to guess, howmuch do you think you (or your parents) have spent on your dance training? Need a minute to try to figure that out, don’t ya?

Chances are it’s nearly impossible to calculate howmuch you’ve invested in your dance life. So let’s just say that the col- lective response to that question is A LOT.

As dancerswho take our craft seriously, we continue to invest in weekly classes, workshops, and intensives, regardless of how much experience wemay already have. Even if we’re dance educators, we still put ourselves in a position to learn. Through injuries, tons of sweat, and plenty of tears, we just keep coming back formore. That dedication we have is part of ourmagic, and itmeanswe’re always growing.

In fact, investing in personal and professional development is one of the wisest things you can do. As Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying,” and he isn’t the only person who thought this way either. Successful artists, business owners, and thought leaders everywhere all agree on the importance of continued learning.

While it’s wise to continue investing in your development as a dancer, it’s just as important to develop skills to help you sus- tain a career as one as well. There’s a whole side of career build- ing that we aren’t taught in the studio. How to build relation- shipswith choreographers? How tomake a living if you don’t land amajor company or touring contract? How the heck to handle taxes as a freelancer? And the list could go on and on.

Traditionally, dancers have just figured things out along the way. But instead of fumbling through your journey until you find something that works, you should approach your dance career like the business that it is fromthe very beginning.Many dancers cringe at just the sound of the word “business”, but thinking like that will get you nowhere fast. So letme reiterate this oncemore, just to be clear…

As a professional dancer, you are an entrepreneur. You are the owner of your own freelance business, and it’s up to YOU to make things happen accordingly.

Now that we’ve gotten that cold, hard fact out of the way, I’d like to share a few tips to help you approach your dance career like the business that it is. Here are five things that every dancer should do when building their career…inmy humble opinion, of course!

page 12 May-July 2017 DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publication of the dance council of north texas vol. 20 • no. 2 1. GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME

The way you think about your career, and yourself for thatmat- ter, will determine the nature of your journey. Everything from fear, self-doubt, and low self-esteemcan reallymake it tough for you to gainmomentumin your career pursuit. The truth is that we all face these downers at times, but it’s how you respond to themthatmakes the difference.

To endure the rejection and rough patches that come along with a professional dance life, you’ll need thick skin, an unwa- vering belief in yourself, and a plan of action. Through all of the closed doors, you’ll need to have a deep rooted trust in your abilities as well as an unshakeable faith that your dreams will come true. It’s also incredibly helpful to set goals throughout your pursuit rather than to wander aimlessly with a trial and error approach. This ‘successmindset’, asmany call it,will help you stay happier andmore focused for the road ahead.


The quality of yourmaterials is important because yourmateri- als are your first impression. Before you ever dance one step, you’re asked to submit professionalmaterials, right?Which means that your headshot, resume, reel, bio, web- site…whatever you use to represent yourself…can be the decid-

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