to the already tricky task of sustaining a living by repeatedly working for free. Of course there are exceptions to this rule as volunteering your expertise for a worthy cause or for the sake of networking is perfectly fine. However, aside fromthose few exceptions, working for free only hurts you in the long run. So know your worth, set your prices, and stick to that. (Not sure how to set your prices? Start with learning how to calculate your freelance hourly rate).

ing factor on whether you get a foot in the door or a door closed altogether!

Since the quality of yourmaterials can literally cost you a job, be sure to hire a great photographer for your headshots, find peers or teachers to help you develop a great resume, and invest the time ormoney into developing a solid web presence as well.

Greatmaterials can get you the job, and a great work ethic can help you keep it (and get others too).When I’mlooking to hire dancers I know, I always call first those who are punctual, quick to communicate conflicts or delays, well-rehearsed, fully committed, and positive throughout the rehearsal and perform- ance process. Not only do I remember these types of dancers, but I alsomake sure to be one of those dancers when I’mhired for projects. If you have greatmaterials, a gracious attitude, AND an exceptional work ethic, you’re sure to go far in this business.


Networking is essential for every profession under the sun as you can’t get to where you want to go all by yourself. You need your community to know who you are and what you can do. With that, start building your network by setting goals and making a plan.

Sincemost of our networking takes place in class, get clear on the types of projects, companies, or choreographers you’d like to work with, and then get your buminto the classes where those folks are. Go to class consistently,make yourself known, andmost importantly, add value while you’re there. You can add value by giving 200% in class, helping classmates when appropriate, and offering to assist during class or with special events. Just continue to show up in the best way possible, and you’ll startmaking great connections and establishing yourself as an asset while you’re at it.


A problemthat dancers are commonly faced with is how to keep dance in their liveswhile alsomaking a decent living. Because of this,manymake the choice to seek a traditional 9 to 5 even though their heart isn’t in it. How youmanage your money as a professional dancer is thatmuchmore important because it’ll help you overcome the passion vs pocket book dilemma.


The best advice I can offer on thismatter is to, first and fore- most, know your worth. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t add a publication of the dance council of north texas

In addition to knowing your worth, I’d also recommend budg- eting and saving a portion of your income for slow seasons and taxes. The great thing about this area of building a career is that you don’t need to be an expert to get it right. Just do what you can, and then seek help fromothers who knowmore.


Taking the first step IS the first step. In fact, none of these tips matter if you don’t step out on faith and take action. You’ve got to start somewhere, and then after you start, you’ve got to con- tinue putting one foot in front of the other.

When you choose a dance career, you get to flex your creative muscle and chart your own course. However, with this privilege comes plenty of wrong turns and rejection. You’ll get discour- aged, tired, and even tempted to give up. To help you keep going when the going gets tough, (1)make time for self-care, and (2) change your focus.

Instead of grinding around the clock, factor in down time. See amovie, enjoy family and friends, read a book…do whatever refuels your spirit. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, find a way to change your focus. Take your eyes off of all the rejection you’ve faced and your seeming lack of progress, and instead, focus on all the things that are working for you. Learn to be grateful for your life just as it is, and it’ll help you enjoy the process and appreciate where you are on your journey.

**Use these tips to complement the ways you’re already invest- ing in your craft. Your talent coupled with a business know- how will set you apart and help you create the career of your dreams. So, get out there, and build your empire just like all the greats have…one brick at a time.

Shaté L.Edwards is a choreographer, dance professor, and author residing in Dallas, TX. She has aMaster of FineArts inDance aswell as a dance career that spanswell over a decade. She offers professional and personal develop- ment for aspiring and early career dancers through her company, The WorkingDancer.Visitwww.TheWorkingDancer.comfor FREEcareer resources.

vol. 20 • no. 2 May-July 2017 page 13

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