The following checklists were created in collaboration with professionals in the industry to help guide and direct those transitioning to different roles in dance and performing arts. DDP has, so far, facilitated the creation of these guides for burgeoning choreographers and stage managers, as well as those looking to break into international work.

Choreographer Survival Skills Checklist

As told to DDP by Stephanie Martinez

December 17, 2019 Northfield, Illinois Dance Data Project ® (DDP) today released a checklist of “Choreographer Survival Skills,” which has been compiled by award-winning choreographer Stephanie Martinez, the subject of DDP’s latest “Meet the Choreographer” blog. From inception to touring, Martinez generously shares her decades of experience in working with dancers, companies, musicians and others. This comprehensive list of what is required to protect artistic integrity, preserve legal rights and garner the resources required to produce a successful work is available here, in the Resources section of the DDP website or in Martinez’s “Meet the Choreographer” feature, here.

Martinez is a celebrated Chicago dance artist with over 30 years professional performing experience. Her 2009 choreographic debut, AviMar, for Luna Negra Dance Theatre’s 10th anniversary season, instantly secured her status as a sought-after dancemaker. Among significant work at Universities, Martinez has created works for Thodos Dance Chicago, Same Planet/Different World, Ron De Jesus Dance, Elements Contemporary Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash, and Visceral Dance Chicago. In 2010, she assisted Broadway legend Ann Reinking in setting the Fosse Trilogy on Thodos Dance Chicago, as well as Daniel Ezralow, choreographer of Broadway’s Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, in remounting his celebrated work, Pulse, for Company C Contemporary Ballet in San Francisco. Martinez received a Winning Works: Choreographers of Color award in 2014 from Joffrey Ballet. Martinez’s work Bliss! will premiere in Joffrey Ballet’s main season after its world premiere in a Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Joffrey collaboration in early 2019.

Working Towards a Global Market

As told to DDP by Assis Carreiro

A question that comes up in our discussions with choreographers, time and time again, is simple but loaded with further implications that may determine whether or not an artist is successful across the board: How does one break into the international market?  Dance Data Project® is continuing to provide choreographers with tools to expand both their expertise and reach. In an effort to better guide dancemakers to the answers to this question and others, we are delighted to offer our latest resource, a new Choreographer Checklist: Working Toward a Global Market.

The checklist was put together in collaboration with Assis Carriero MBE, a London-based artistic consultant and manager with three decades of industry expertise and knowledge of dance and the wider arts and culture sectors around the globe. Assis has worked with a number of well known artists to secure commissions and offers bespoke mentorship following years of leadership and producing experience. Previously, Assis worked as the Artistic Director & Chief Executive of DanceEast and Artistic Director of Royal Ballet Flanders before joining the New English Ballet Theatre as Head of Strategic Planning and Development.

Read more about Assis on her website,

I spend a lot of my time mentoring choreographers at various stages of their careers. Some are starting out and seek to better understand how to break into the competitive US and overseas markets. Others are transitioning from dancer/choreographer to full-time freelance choreographer

. Yet a third group are exploring breaking into the world of ballet from a contemporary/modern background. Many choreographers want to expand opportunities outside their home country base. There is no magic formula for making a full-time career as a choreographer. Times are currently very tough for both companies and choreographers around the globe. Not only is it a saturated market, but most companies are rescheduling work and not taking on new, live commissions. Still, eye-catching new work may pique the attention of an artistic director at any moment, so it’s best to be bold and be prepared.

Here are some basics to think about as you move forward as a choreographer:


Is your site up to date with images, biography and good quality video links? Is it clear, uncluttered? Do you provide a contact email so that people can reach you? If not, create a new email for your website so you are easily reachable and emails don’t clog your personal email. Most people don’t want to fill in contact forms.


Make sure you have short, high-quality video links of no more than 3 minutes. Ideally stage/ performance videos, not studio work. Show a variety of work, 3-4 good videos.


We live in a connected world, and dance is visual, so you need to ensure you are set up across channels that are popular for for dance— namely, Instagram and Facebook. Instagram videos get a lot of hits, and you can always check who has been watching them – keep them short, and make sure you have permission to show them on social media. And, separate your personal handles from your professional ones – cats, dogs, babies and holidays can have their own separate pages from your professional ones.


Create work on your friends and colleagues who may not currently be working and make good quality videos that you can share on social media, in order to attract the attention of companies, artistic directors, and new audiences.


Many questions arise when considering international opportunities. Which international artistic directors are commissioning works or programming emerging choreographers? Would your work fit into the company’s aesthetics and director’s vision? If the answer to the second questions is no, don’t bother them with your work. If yes, send them a friendly email with appropriate links and see what happens. (When travel restrictions ease – if you can afford the trip, travel abroad, visit companies, watch performances and rehearsals, offer to teach and/or give workshops, and start to break the ice).


Right now, times are tough. Go back to where you trained and/or danced and offer your services as a choreographer live or on zoom for digital performances. Colleagues or acquaintances met throughout training and career may well be able to open doors when least expected.

DDP wishes to offer its sincere gratitude to the following individuals and organizations, who collaborated on this document.

  • Ty Woodfolk
    Director of Human Resources, Diversity, and Inclusion, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
    DDP Advisory Council Member
  • Erin Sanchez
    Manager of Health, Wellbeing, and Performance for One Dance UK
  • Emma Lister
    Co-Director, Makeshift Company
  • Zoë Ashe-Brown
  • Whistle While You Work: Robyn Doty and Frances Chiaverini

Behind the Stage:
Stage Manager’s Checklist

By Nicole Walters of Atlanta Ballet

Stage Manager’s Checklist,” authored by stage manager Nicole Walters of Atlanta Ballet, is a new resource outlining the necessary skills required for aspiring and existing stage managers. In addition to the checklist, Nicole walks us through her Typical Day— which, you will quickly find, is anything but typical. Nicole was also featured as a part of Global Conversations: Behind the Stage released earlier this summer– you can see our full interview with Nicole here.

This checklist acts as a useful stepping stone as dancers consider transitioning “behind the stage” and investigate career pathways beyond dancing, though the resource is not solely applicable for classical dance companies.  It has been universalised to apply to all performance arts/venues.  

“DDP is stepping in during these uncertain economic times to help women advance their careers and even illuminate possible pathways following a professional dance career,” DDP Communications Lead Isabelle Ramey notes.   “Fostering awareness of the skills required for these challenging positions is important– these careers, while both lucrative and more secure, still provide the adrenaline and daily challenge that so many in the performing arts seek.”

Paired with a document illustrating a “Typical Day” of a stage manager, the checklist creates a thorough and clear description of possible responsibilities, as well as some helpful tips to make the role easier. “Nothing ever goes quite as planned” says Walters, who is always preparing for the unexpected; touting resourcefulness, quick thinking, and level headedness as some of a stage manager’s greatest skills. DDP Founder Liza Yntema quips that “if Nicole had been steering, the Titanic would have never gone down.”