L to R Directors for Screen Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright on set of The Secret Theatre. Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
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.
SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES
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.
FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES
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).
DON’T LOSE FAITH!
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 Podcast Host, MOVERS SHAKERS MOVERS
Co-Director, Makeshift Company