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[ February 10, 2019 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

What To Wear and What To Bring to Auditions

A decade ago it wouldn’t matter what you would wear to an audition because casting directors were only looking at your dancing.  But it isn’t like that anymore. There are so many more dancers today; you have to dress from head to toe so casting directors could potentially see you in the role you are auditioning for.  There is no universal rule on what you should wear to auditions.  That is because you shouldn’t dress the same way for every audition. For example, what you might wear to an audition for a Rihanna music video shouldn’t be the same thing you wear to audition for Disney. We will be discussing the most common looks for certain types of auditions as well as what you should actually bring to auditions.

Sometimes casting directors can be specific in what they want you to wear to an audition.  Some examples of descriptions I have seen are body conscious (sexy) in all black, goth/punk rock band clothing, and full ballet apparel (pink tights, black leotard).  Some audition notices give zero description on what you should wear.  If that is the situation, be sure to read the description of the job you are auditioning for and see if that gives you some insight.  You can also try searching for previous jobs by the company on Google and YouTube to see if that helps. 

Commercial Auditions

Commercial audition apparel is something you would wear to an audition for a tour, music video, and a live performance with a pop artist like Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and Britney Spears.  A standard outfit right now for an audition like this would be cut off fishnets under a pair of ripped jeans, a bra top layered with a crop top, and accessories.  Even though this look is in right now, this is just an example of something you could wear. Because it is such a popular look, you might be wearing the same thing as the person standing next to you.  That isn’t always a good thing.  Get creative with your commercial audition looks. 

*Remember for commercial auditions for women, always bring sneakers and heels!

Disney/Cruise Lines/Theme Park Auditions

For these types of auditions it’s all about being able to see the lines you can create with your body.  Make sure your outfit has some type of color in it.  I would suggest a colorful bra or crop top with high waisted shorts.  You could also do a colorful leotard with shorts or a little skirt. Remember to think clean and simple for these types of auditions.  Feel free to add a silver stud earring to enhance the look. 

*For these auditions be sure to bring jazz shoes and character heels!  My suggestion would be LaDucas for character heels as they are much more comfortable than other brands. 

Brand Auditions

You may get an audition for a brand or a store like Best Buy or Target.  If the audition notice gives you zero information in regards to clothing, I would wear what you would see employees wear.  For Best Buy I would wear khaki shorts with a blue top and for Target I would wear khaki shorts with a red top.  You want casting directors to visualize you in the advertisement before you are even booked!

You need to put your best version of yourself forward at every audition.  This means making sure your hair and make up are done as well as following wardrobe directions.  If you know you have an audition coming up and are wearing a new outfit to an audition, be sure to test it out to make sure it works for you.  I would suggest taking a class in your audition outfit to see how it holds up.  If something is uncomfortable or isn’t allowing you to dance to your fullest potential, then you will need to find some alternative options. 

Audition notices can come up at the last moment.  You might not be home when you get a call from your agent and they want to see if you can make an audition across town in a matter of two hours.  That is why it’s important to have extra audition clothes, headshots, resumes, and dance shoes in your car at all times.   You don’t want to miss an opportunity, so be prepared. 

Sweating is completely natural.  If you sweat a lot, however, it can be distracting to the casting directors.  If you have a favorite outfit that you love to audition in, buy multiple of those items.  Once you are done learning the combination, before you dance in smaller groups, quickly run to the bathroom to change into clean fresh clothes.  DO NOT change your outfit completely! Casting directors might have you in their head as the girl in the blue leotard.  If you go and change into a purple tank top, they might not recognize you! Put the exact same outfit you had on earlier, but now your clothes are dry and you appear more presentable.  Never wear grey, unless specified by casting director.  Grey clothing shows sweat very quickly.

Below is a list of items you should bring with you to all auditions:

  • Headshot and resume.  These are of the utmost importance! You might not be able to audition if you don’t have these items!
  • Dance shoes. If you have duplicates of shoes bring them.  Especially heels incase one of them breaks. 
  • Knee pads
  • Water.  Lots of water.
  • Snacks.  You might be at an audition all day.  Your body will need fuel to perform at it’s best.   
  • Phone charger and portable charger 
  • Safety pins! Most of the time at auditions, assistants will provide you with safety pins.  I have been in situations where they are running low and can only give one safety pin per person.  The last thing you want to do is worry about your number falling off in the middle of the combination.  Always bring extra and always know where they are in your bag! 
  • Makeup.  Bring makeup to touch up your face to keep you looking presentable throughout the day.    
  • Hair products like hairspray, brush, hair ties, and a blow dryer.  If you have downtime redo you hair (in the same style it was before), just to keep it looking neat.  If you sweat a lot, bring a blow dryer to dry your hair before you walk into the room. The goal is to look clean and fresh. 
  • Towel.  To dry off the sweat. 
  • Deodorant
  • Mini stapler.  Casting directors might not have a stapler or they may run out of staples.  It’s important to always be prepared. You don’t want your headshot to detach from your resume and have your information get lost. 
  • Pen.  You never know when you will need a pen. 
  • A book.  It’s possible you may have to wait for a while, so you might as well entertain yourself. 
  • Additional clothes.  While waiting throw clothes on over your audition outfit to keep your muscles warm.  More importantly have extra clothes you can wear at the audition incase something rips or you are dressed in the exact same outfit as someone else. 

Being a dancer in the industry is difficult.  Auditioning is difficult.  That is why it is important to be as prepared as you can.  Do your homework on the style of dance you will be learning, the choreographers, and know how long it will take you to get to the audition.  Being prepared makes you a smart dancer.  Taking time to research these things will minimize your stress in the room and maximize your opportunities.

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[ February 1, 2019 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Performance Opportunities in LA

While it may take a few years to book your first big job working with an artist, there are plenty of other performance opportunities to pursue in Los Angeles. Taking advantage of these opportunities offers many benefits, including maintaining your performance skills, meeting people in the industry, and learning to dance in non-traditional spaces. 

Carnival Choreographers Ball

One of the most popular performance opportunities in LA is Carnival Choreographer’s Ball, otherwise known as Carnival.  The best part about Carnival is that it is ubiquitous—there are Carnivals in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, New York City, Canada, London, Italy, Sydney and Tokyo.  Carnival in LA is held once a month at the Avalon Hollywood.  There are around twenty choreographers that put their work on the Carnival stage each month. (Side note: This is the perfect chance to get performance footage to add to your social media accounts and your reel!) Carnival is not an event solely for aspiring choreographers, but for established choreographers as well. Tessandra Chavez, Gil Duldulao, Dana Foglia, Kyle Hanagami, Rhapsody James, Tricia Miranda, Marie Poppins, Matt Steffanina, and Twitch are among some of the Carnival alum.  Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo, Janet Jackson and Keke Palmer, have also made appearances on the stage! There are no auditions for Carnival.  You can perform in Carnival by getting to know people in the community and being in their pieces.

Jeté

Another popular event to perform at is Club Jeté, otherwise known as Jeté.  Jeté is held once a month at the RAGE nightclub in West Hollywood.  There is an average of seventeen choreographers that put work on the Jeté stage.  Jeté has an extremely small stage in the shape of a “U.”  Not only do people dance on the stage, but they also dance around the stage (i.e., on the floor, at the same level as the audience).  Jeté also provides video footage to add to your social media and reel.  Anyone can submit to choreograph.  The waitlist can be fairly long, so put in your application a few months ahead of time!  Like Carnival, Jeté attracts new and established choreographers.  Some choreographers who have graced the Jeté stage are Rudy Abreu, Hamilton Evans, Matthew Fata, Jojo Gomez, Mollee Gray, Jared Jenkins, Amari Marshall, Devin Solomon, and Zachary Venegas.  Again, there are no auditions for Jeté. You can perform by getting to know people in the community and being in their sets.

Posers/The 8 Count

This is one of the coolest performance opportunities in LA.  Posers is NOT an event where you can create whatever you want.  Each event is structured around an artist or a theme.  While one night might be built around a single artist like Lady Gaga or Chris Brown, another night take the theme of “Divas” (think Rihanna, Christina Aguliera, Britney Spears, etc.).  Some events are structured around groups (e.g., Fifth Harmony or Backstreet Boys), and others are inspired by eras (e.g., the 90s or 2000s).  These are just a few of Posers’ previous themes.  No matter the theme, someone in your set will have to be the artist(s) and lip sync to your music.  This is great practice for dancing and/or choreographing for an artist!  Posers is held a couple times a year at Flaming Saddles in West Hollywood.  If you are thinking of performing or choreographing for Posers, be sure to visit the location first.  It’s a very non-traditional space.  There is a stage downstairs, a stage upstairs, a set of stairs, and a few runways.  Because your audience is both upstairs and downstairs, you’ll need to use the whole space.  Not only is Posers a good performance opportunity, but it is also a chance for choreographers to win money.  There is an event within Posers called The 8 Count.  At this event, judges assess choreographers based on their originality, audience interaction, costuming, use of space, level of performance, transitions, cleanliness, and musicality.  The judges narrow it down to a top 3, and then the audience picks the winner.  Also, the winner walks away with $1,000!

RichFam

Rob Rich is one of my favorite people to take class from in LA.  His class is such a challenge and he really pushes your stamina to its limits.  Since he is such an amazing teacher and figure in the industry, he often teaches abroad.  He is also the creator of RichFam and Flygirl$, for which he holds auditions.  For the past few years, he has staged two U.S. shows per year but he has also put on additional shows all over the world.  Auditions are held in front of Rob and a panel of professionals for a spot to perform in one of his shows.  If selected, you begin training with Rob and his staff the day after the audition.  You train for up to two weeks, sometimes less. Rob not only sets his own choreography on his dancers, but he also brings in other top choreographers in the industry to set their own choreography for a piece in his shows.   Some of the choreographers he has brought in are Miguel Antonio, Lee Daniels, Aisha Francis, Marty Kudelka, Larke, and Sienna Lyons.  Be sure to follow Rob (@_robrich), RichFam (@_therichfam), and Flygirl$ (@iloveflygirls) on Instagram to stay up-to-date on when the shows and auditions are. If you don’t live in LA, don’t fret. Rob sometimes holds open contests on Instagram for a spot in his shows. If you are selected, he may fly you out to LA and pay for your accommodations to be part of the RichFam.

LA Unbound

This performance opportunity is a longer process and more structured than the ones listed above. It reminds me of my college dance days.  LA Unbound holds auditions twice a year, usually in August/September and January.  For your audition, you will perform multiple styles of dance in front of a panel of choreographers. Based on their observations, the choreographers will decide if they want to “cast” you or not.  If your availability dates match the dates listed by the choreographer, then you can choose to be in his/her piece.  Rehearsals are usually held once a week for 2.5 months.  There are also a few extra rehearsals (usually on Sundays) where all the choreographers and dancers are in attendance.  These supplementary rehearsals are used to run through the entire show and to see the progress of the other pieces.  LA Unbound accepts everyone into the show, regardless of age or skill level. If you prefer structured rehearsal schedules and traditional performance settings, then LA Unbound is for you. 

These opportunities are great for gaining performance experience.  But more than that, they are wonderful for networking.  The people you meet at these performances may not become your new best friends, but they are familiar faces that you’ll see when taking classes and going to community events.  You can never have too many connections.  Not to mention, getting to know your peers and colleagues makes these events more enjoyable!  Even if you are not performing, I still recommend attending these events to see what they’re all about.  It’s a great chance to watch talented dancers, mingle with people in the community, and get inspired!

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[ January 27, 2019 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Makeup for Dancers

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. This includes makeup! Learning how to create the perfect smoky eye is great and all. But learning how to maintain a clean makeup look while sweating for hours is far more valuable. There are a million videos on YouTube that can help you improve your makeup application skills and that can offer you creative inspiration. Few, however, will teach you how to get your makeup to stay in place through long and grueling auditions. So let’s get to it.

Before we start, remember that proper skin care is essential. Makeup can only cover up so much. In addition to drinking plenty of water, you should make regular use of exfoliators, cleansers, serums, and moisturizers that work for you. If you have no idea where to start with a skin care routine, go to an Ulta Beauty or Sephora and talk to the store associates. Give them an idea of what you’re looking for and tell them your price range. There is something for everyone, no matter your budget. If you notice that your products aren’t working, then you may have see a dermatologist to get more extensive care.  

Primer

It is a crime not to prime! Primer serves two main purposes. First, it’s a preparatory layer that acts as a barrier to protect your skin from the other products that you put on your face. Second, it helps hold your makeup in place all day.  

There are tons of great full-face primers. Some of these full-face primers can help specifically with minimizing pores, color correcting, oil control, etc. And some primers out there can do more than one thing. The options are endless, which can make selecting the right primer a little difficult. For those of you who have lots of on-camera auditions, my recommendation would be to get a primer that minimizes your pores. Pore-minimizing primers will give you a nice, clean look on camera. I highly recommend the Benefit Porefessional, because there is a formula for normal skin and one for oily skin.

I also suggest buying an eye shadow primer. Some people use a normal primer on their eyelids. But regular primers don’t hold eye shadow pigment as well as an eye shadow primer. I know that this means buying yet another makeup product. But it’s worth the money and the primer should last for months. I recommend the Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion.  

False Lashes and Mascara Primer

Until the day I die, I will vouch for wearing fake lashes to an audition. Fake lashes are a cleaner look than mascara. The good news is that there are a variety of false lashes on the market, ranging from subtle to dramatic. So for whatever role you’re auditioning, there is an appropriate set of lashes. For example, if you’re trying to get work as a dancer with the NBA, you’ll likely be auditioning on a basketball court or in a similarly large setting. In this case, you may want to wear the more dramatic lashes so that your eyes pop. On the other side of the spectrum, if you know that you’ll be auditioning in a more intimate space, you might wear a different set of lashes for lengthening (rather than volumizing) purposes. No matter what eyelashes you choose, though, the key is good eyelash glue. Each glue is slightly unique, but my personal favorite is the Ardell Duo Lash Adhesive Dark. (Tip: if you want to try this glue, know that it dries very fast. So be prepared!)

Now, if you really can’t stand fake eyelashes, then you will need an eyelash primer that holds the mascara securely. As a reminder, before applying a primer, curl your eyelashes up to the gods with an eyelash curler. After that, feel free to apply the primer generously while pulling the lashes up. I really like the Lancôme Cils Booster XL Vitamin-Infused Mascara Primer. This formula is white in color—so you will need to paint your favorite mascara over the primer to have dark eyelashes.  

Setting Powder and Baking

To be completely transparent, I don’t see a huge difference when I use a setting powder. This might have more to do with my skin type than anything else. So I’m not discouraging or disparaging the use of setting powder. In fact, when I go to an audition or have to look presentable for a long period of time, I will still use powder. At the very least, it’s another protective layer to help keep the makeup in place. Furthermore, not only will I bake under the eyes, I will also do so wherever my makeup tends to breaks first (e.g., on my nose). Product-wise, I recommend the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder.  

Setting Spray

Setting spray is one more layer of defense to keep your makeup from fading. It is especially useful on days when you’re changing clothes as you go from one audition to the next. The spray will help prevent your makeup from rubbing off on our clothes. Again, there are many setting sprays out there that achieve different goals. Some excel at oil control while others are hydrating or long lasting. I personally like the Wet n Wild Photo Focus Matte Finish Setting Spray.  

Lips

If you have multiple auditions in one day and plan on changing your lip color throughout, then I suggest not using a liquid or matte lipstick. If you keep makeup remover with you, then you should be able to get away with it.  Make sure you remove the lipstick completely before applying the new color. Otherwise, your lips could look a little funky. On the other hand, if you are NOT planning on changing lip color, then liquid and matte lipsticks are perfect for auditions.

In terms of color, try a few out to see what works best for you. It’s always good to have a few “sophisticated” colors on hand. But remember, your priority it to dress the part. More likely than not, you wouldn’t see a Disney character wearing black lipstick. So if you’re auditioning for Disney, don’t wear that color. Pretty simple, right? I also don’t recommend wearing gloss to an audition, especially if your hair is down. You don’t want your hair to stick to your lips and then drag the lipstick and gloss onto your foundation. That’s not cute. This is why, when possible, you ought to use liquid or matte lipsticks. These kinds of formulas and finishes won’t move while you are dancing and flipping your hair around. I recommend NYX Lip Lingerie.  

Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t buy foundation that is too dark for your skin tone. Your face shouldn’t be a different color than your neck! You can always add bronzer if you need to look “tanner.”
  • If you plan on doing a smoky eye for an audition, don’t use black and grey eye shadow. It doesn’t look good on camera and in person, it makes you look tired. Instead, try using shades of plum to darken the outer edges of your eyelids to give you the smoky effect.
  • Always carry makeup remover, cotton swabs, and cotton balls. These things are essential when you need fix your makeup on-the-run.  
  • BLEND BLEND BLEND. Blend your foundation. Blend your eye shadow.
  • Clean your makeup brushes once a week to ensure that you are getting the truest pigment from your makeup.
  • Don’t try a new makeup look the day of an audition. Always practice beforehand!
  • Some of your everyday makeup products can be used for auditions. Try it out. Wear your normal makeup to a dance class. How does it hold up with the sweat?
  • For all my friends who get a tomato face when they dance, the secret is the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Correcting Cream.
  • Makeup is expensive. Buy sample sizes to try out different products until you find the ones that you absolutely love.
  • Always take your makeup off at night so that it doesn’t clog your pores and cause breakouts.  

When it comes to dancing in makeup, it’s trial and error. Don’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive products on the market. Talk to friends, watch YouTube videos, and read product reviews. Walking into a makeup store can be overwhelming. But if you do your research, you can feel a little bit more confident when conquering this world. Take the time to figure out what works for your beautiful, unique self.    

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[ January 19, 2019 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

The Cost of Working with Agencies

As we discussed last week, it’s often easier to land auditions for paid work when you are signed with an agency. But then you might be thinking, “Paid work sounds great. But what is the cost to me?” Well before we dive into the thick of it, let’s get one thing straight. While searching for representation, you may encounter agencies that ask you to pay them in order to get signed. Should this happen to you, RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. This is not a legitimate agency! It’s important to know which agencies in the industry are reputable so that you don’t get conned into a bad contract. An agency should never ask you for money, with one exception: commission reimbursement (see explanation below). That said, your agency might ask you to spend money to improve your chances of getting auditions. Remember: agencies want you to succeed. When you make money, they make money. An agency may ask you to spend money to invest in yourself, in your career. How might that investment look?

Headshots

Agents may ask you to spend money to update your headshots. If your photos are outdated or aren’t of the best quality, then they have a good reason to ask this of you. They aren’t, however, forcing you to do this. Rather, they are suggesting that you spend the money on new headshots so that you can maximize your opportunities. 

Casting Websites

Welcome to the digital age. Casting websites are commonplace, and agencies use them! Therefore, you will be asked to upload your photos to whichever casting sites your agency uses. It costs around $25 to upload each photo to each website. This is where it can get pricy. Again, your agency can’t make you do this; but doing so increases the likelihood of getting booked. You will not pay your agency for these uploads. Instead, you will pay the casting websites directly for any fees incurred.

Joining SAG

In the industry there is non-union work and union work.  Everyone starts out as a non-union worker. There are many ways that you can become eligible to join the union.

 Most common, your agent sends you to an audition where casting directors are looking at both union and non-union dancers, you then book the job, and your contract is a “union” contract (even though you are not part of the union).  After completing the job, you become “SAG-eligible.”  Which then means you have the option to join if you want.  Again, this is just one of a few ways to join the union. Keep in mind, union fees amount to about $3,000. While the union offers perks (i.e., healthcare, high wages, no contract-no work), it doesn’t necessarily suit everyone’s needs. Depending on your professional goals, you may or may not find SAG appealing.  If you become SAG, you cannot take a non-union job. Still, it is a good conversation to have with your agent, when the time comes. Again, you wouldn’t pay union fees to your agency. This payment can be made online and should go directly to SAG.  Any agency that asks you to hand over $3,000—particularly before you’ve even signed with the company—is just trying to take your money. You can’t become a SAG member unless you have done enough credible work.

To find more information regarding the steps to join SAG, please see the link below: https://www.sagaftra.org/membership-benefits/steps-join

Commission Reimbursement

Circling back to the beginning of our conversation, there is one instance in which you will write your agent a check. If you complete a job and the production company sends the check directly to you, then you will need to reimburse you agency for its due commission. All checks coming from production companies should go directly to the agencies, but this doesn’t always happen. If you receive the check from the production company, then you will need to disclose the check amount to your agency. This is when you will then write a check to the agency for its 10-20% commission. For most dance jobs, it’s 10%. But be sure to confirm this with your agent If you book a job not through your agent (e.g., through a friend), then you will still have to pay your agent his/her 10%. Don’t try to hide this, because your agents will find out! It’s just dishonest to try to hide that income. Be professional. 

One question I hear quite often is how do I know if an agency is legit? Below is a list of established, trustworthy agencies in the LA area for commercial dance:


There are, of course, other agencies in Los Angeles. Those may specialize in acting, musical theater, fitness, vocal performance, modeling, etc. If you have a diverse background in the performance industry, then an agency different from those listed above may be better for you. Have an honest discussion with your prospective agencies about the opportunities they can provide you for commercial dance. If they don’t represent dancers, then you can always get a second agent. You could have one for acting and one for dance, or one for dance and one for fitness. I’ve seen this a few times! But it’s important to have that conversation with your agents to see if they can provide representation for you across several areas of specialty. You can also usually find what kind of talent each agency represents on their website. 

If you research the five agencies I have listed above, you will see that they represent major choreographers in the industry. If a choreographer has last-minute work or a job that requires a lot of dancers, it is very possible that he/she will hire people from his/her same agency. This is just another reason why I have specifically suggested the above-listed agencies for commercial dance. But if you sign with another agency, please first do thorough research and verity that it is legit.

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[ January 11, 2019 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Signing with an Agency

You have to have an agent in LA—especially to audition those for big, high-paying jobs. That’s the price we pay for working in a highly competitive field. There are a few different ways to get signed to an agency. Consider the following tried-and-true methods:

Open Calls

Agencies will hold open-call auditions for dancers looking for representation. These auditions are usually held twice a year, once in the spring and once in autumn. Check the agencies’ websites and Instagram accounts to find more information about precise dates and times. And be sure to check these sources regularly in the days leading up to any open-call audition that you plan to attend. Real-life example: once, the day before I went to an open-call audition, the agency changed both the time and location of the audition! My point is, be prepared for anything. Speaking of which, show up at the audition in your best outfit, and remember to bring tennis shoes, heels (for women), a headshot, and your resume!

Referrals

Most agree that this is the easiest way to get singed to an agency. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the referral process, it essentially works like this: if you have a strong relationship with a choreographer or teacher in the industry and he/she writes you a referral letter (or sends an email), then you may be invited to have a meeting at the agency. Though it should go without saying, allow me to clarify that this meeting does not guarantee you a contract with the agency. In fact, agencies will sometimes still ask referred clients to attend an open call. Rather, referrals are the best way to get your foot in the door. The rest of the work (i.e., the work of impressing the agency) still falls to you. The referral from your industry contact simply helps you to make that initial connection, and it adds a bit of oomph to your profile as a candidate. 

Online Applications

You can also apply online for representation. Some agency websites have a page where you can fill out the requisite information. Alternatively, agencies may ask you to send your materials to a certain email address.  Sometimes there is a spot online for referral letters. If you have a letter from a choreographer or teacher in the industry, make sure to upload it online or attach it to your email. 

Intensives

A handful of teachers and choreographers hold dance intensives (more on this in the future). At some of these intensives, the choreographer or teacher will invite agents to observe participants and provide feedback. Agents have been known, on occasion, to sign dancers based on their observations at these intensives. This is why, even at intensives, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Wear an awesome (yet comfortable) outfit, and make sure that you stand out in the best ways possible!

Class Observations

Every now and then, agents will drop in on dance classes to observe and possibly sign dancers. This approach is a little outdated and isn’t used very much. In fact, I’ve only seen this happen once in the past two years. But when this approach is used, the agencies themselves get to decide whether or not they want to make public their plans to attend these classes. So if you are taking classes at major dance studios, be prepared for agents come and observe. You may just end up with a contract.  

Tagging on Instagram

If you have posted an awesome video on Instagram and are looking for representation, try tagging agencies. Though this isn’t the soundest method for contracting with an agency, it is not unheard of for agents to sign dancers based on social media posts. When doing this, the following points are important to consider:

  • If the video shows a group of dancers, it must be obvious to the viewer which one you are.
  • Ideally, you are wearing a stellar (impressive, appropriate, and professional) outfit.
  • Your Instagram page should have enough diverse content to capture the viewing agents’ attention.

As you can see, there are a handful of ways to get signed to an agency. That doesn’t mean that it is always easy. For some people it is, for others it may take a while. If you attend an open call and don’t make it to the second round, don’t be discouraged. The agents may only be looking for people that have a specific type of look. Just remember that it’s important—not only in agency auditions, but in the dance world and in life—to be YOU. 

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[ January 5, 2019 by Annie Libera 2 Comments ]

Casting Websites: A Key Resource for Finding Auditions

Finding auditions for legitimate, paying jobs can be difficult if you are not signed to an agency. Difficult, but not impossible. And because opportunities to audition are limited before you are signed, you have to jump at those chances when they arise. This brings us to that all-important question: where does an unsigned dancer find auditions? Agencies use casting websites to find auditions for their clients. You can too! Below is a list of reputable casting resources. Shop around, and find one that works for you.

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[ December 30, 2018 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Social Media for Dancers

The explosion of social media in recent years has had a remarkable impact on the professional world. The dance industry is no exception. Casting directors and choreographers will look at your social media. It is a great resource for them—not only for assessing your talent, but also for understanding who you are. It is, therefore, important to remember that you are a business.  And you ought to keep your business professional! How would you want your social media to appear if Rihanna was looking at it? Did you know that Rihanna booked dancers solely off of Instagram for her 2018 Savage x Fenty New York Fashion Week Show? Pretty amazing!

Instagram

Instagram is the most important social media platform that you should be on right now. You must have a presence on Instagram. In fact, Instagram is the perfect place to showcase who you are as a dancer. You should be posting both videos and pictures.  If you can do multiple styles of dance, then illustrate that fact through your posts—and make sure your versatility is immediately apparent to your viewer. No one should have to dig tiresomely through Instagram to discover your range and talents.

To be blunt, casting directors don’t care about your dog, or the football game you attended, or the picture of you and your mom by the Christmas tree. I know that’s harsh. But again, this is a business. If you want to post this personal content, then I suggest creating a second Instagram account, putting it on your Instagram story, or putting it on Facebook!  Your feed is a tool for you to use to your advantage. 

Content that you should post on your Instagram:

  • Headshots (viewers shouldn’t have to scroll more than once or twice to find a headshot)
  • Professional work (e.g., Latin AMA’s Performance, music videos)
  • Non-professional performances (e.g., Choreographers Carnival Ball, Jete, Posers)
  • Video Projects (e.g., concept videos)
  • Class videos
  • Professional print work
  • Promotional materials for up-coming performances that you are in
  • Your Reel
  • Pictures with industry figures (e.g., Kyle Hanagami, Brian Friedman)
  • Selfies!

*Yes, selfies are okay to post—but only if you’re using them to demonstrate your ability to pull off different styles (e.g., quirky, sexy, edgy, etc.).

When posting on Instagram, make sure that you use hashtags, tag clothing and/or makeup brands, and add your location to photos and videos. Doing these things will help to connect you not only to the people in the community, but to the wider world. 

YouTube or Vimeo

Last week, we discussed the importance of having video footage of yourself. Once you have that footage, you need a single, easy-to-use platform for people to view your video materials. This is why I suggest having a YouTube or Vimeo account. These platforms are accessible for casting directors and are widely used.  You don’t have to post a ton of videos. But it’s important to have at least one (even if it is just for your reel).

Even if your child is very young, it’s useful to start social media accounts for them (especially Instagram).  Start gathering footage now and build their portfolios (i.e., their Instagram feed). If your child is old enough to have his or her own social media accounts, it is still okay for parents to monitor the activity on those accounts. It’s not that you can’t trust your child. It’s that you can’t always trust the people who are viewing your child’s social media. Be sure to check personal/direct messages and comments on photos and videos. If a comment is inappropriate, please delete it and block that user from your account.

Yes, other people can be creepy. This does not mean, however, that you should set your accounts to “private.” You want casting directors, choreographers, agents, and artists to be able to find you and see your content. If it is set to “private,” then they will move on and you may miss that opportunity. If you and/or your child have another account for personal use, then it is okay to make that one private.

At this point, some of you may be thinking, “How important are my number of followers?”  Before we answer this question, please remember that this number doesn’t determine your self-worth. The short answer is no, the number of followers you have doesn’t matter.  There is one exception, and I will get to that in a moment. First, remember that you will certainly come across a dancer on Instagram who posts a lot of class videos. And those videos may have tons of likes and comments. But consider the most important question: is that dancer booking work? The answer might very well be no. Alternatively, you might find a user who only has a few hundred or thousand followers and isn’t releasing as many hype class videos. And the reason for this might be that he or she may be on tour or is constantly booking! Getting work that pays and getting professional experience will (almost) always outweigh your “follower” numbers on Instagram when it comes to booking future work. The first materials casting directors and choreographers will be looking at, are your headshots and resumes! The more professional work and experience on your resume the better your chances to move on to the next round (after of course, slaying the combination you were given). 

The one exception to this rule (i.e., when it is better to have more followers) is when you are trying to get sponsored by a brand. Brands sponsor social media users who have a ton of followers. These companies are trying to reach a large audience in order to expand their customer base. The simple fact is that it isn’t useful to them to sponsor social media users who only have a handful of followers.  

There are a lot of conflicting opinions regarding quality over quantity in social media. Some people say you should post every day. If you agree with that opinion, remember that you don’t post something just to post something. Make sure that you stay on brand, and keep your content focused on the entertainment industry. Personally, I might not post for a few weeks. But when you go to my page, my feed is all entertainment and dance related. Some of the most “famous” dancers on Instagram don’t post every day, or even every week!

Other social media platforms—such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat—are not monitored as closely by hiring professionals. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t carefully maintain your presence on those platforms. As a rule of thumb, across all forms of social media, you should avoid discussions of politics, money, and religion. This is nothing new. It is a long-standing norm in polite company and polite conversation to refrain from such topics. And sticking to that rule will also help you to stay focused on the professional aspect of your social media accounts. Finally, please keep the following question in mind: both in the dance industry and in the wider world, how do you want to be perceived? Your social media should always reflect that.

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[ December 23, 2018 by Annie Libera 0 Comments ]

Dance Reels and Video Submissions

Back in the day (i.e., 7+ years ago), dancer materials consisted of a headshot, resume, and reel. Now, reels are being replaced by more generic video footage, and dancers are expected to have a solid social media presence to supplement their headshots and resumes.  Despite this shift, it still doesn’t hurt to have a reel ready for submission.  If you regularly record videos of yourself for Instagram, then editing them all into a 1-minute reel isn’t difficult.  Today, we will discuss how to put together dance reels and how to film yourself for video-based submissions and auditions.

Reels

Reels are great for self-promotion and submission-based auditions where casting directors need to see you do multiple styles of dance.  In addition to that, your agency might want it to promote on their website.  I have seen reels created a variety of different ways.  However in general, the formula below is what I see most commonly.

Frame 1: The initial frame should have one of your headshots, with your first and last name followed by the words “dance reel.” For example, “Jane Doe’s Dance Reel.” This frame should last anywhere from 3-5 seconds.

Frame 2: The first video must contain footage of you and only you. This allows your viewer to clearly see what you look like while dancing. This clip—and all those that follow—shouldn’t last longer than 10 seconds.

Frames 3-10 (will vary per person): This is where you’ll need to use a variety of footage. You can mix class videos with professional work.  If you don’t have professional work, videos from competitions are fine as well. It’s okay to have two clips from the same video, but don’t put them back-to-back.  Once again, no clip should exceed 10 seconds in length.

Frame 11: This is your last piece of footage. Just like your first clip, the video should be only of you.

Frame 12: The last frame will show a different headshot of yours with your agency logo (if you are signed) and your email address.

Tips & Tricks for Dance Reels

  • The duration of a dance real should not exceed 1 minute and 15 seconds. Still, the closer you can get to 1 minute, the better. However, as you have more professional footage and jobs, your reel may get longer.
  • Put your best/most-professional footage first! You want to capture your audience.
  • All footage should be landscape (sideways), not portrait (up and down).
  • Add music to your reel.  You will NOT include the original audio from your footage. Choose an upbeat song—but one that reflects your style of dance.
  • No clip should not have more than three people in it. However, there are two exceptions:
    • If you’re front and center in a large group of people (and it’s obvious that it’s you), then you can include the clip in your reel.
    • If every dancer in the frame looks EXACTLY THE SAME (e.g., the Rockettes), then the clip is suitable for a reel.

*Side note: If you haven’t seen Andrew Winghart’s Cry Me A River video, look it up. It’s amazing! And it’s a great example of the second exception listed above.  It also has 3.8 million views on Youtube!

  • Show your finished product to a family member or close friend.  If they can’t pick you out in every clip without pausing the video, then you need to find different footage.
  • Avoid using footage from conventions.  Most of the time, the room is too dark and there are too many people in the frame. 
  • iMovie and Final Cut work great for cutting together a reel.

Below you will find 3 examples for reels. As you will see, they are all slightly different.  I wanted to give you examples of people at all different levels in the industry.  Feel free to search “Dance Reel” on Youtube for more examples. 

Video Footage For Submissions

Oftentimes, casting directors and/or choreographers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate their expertise in a specific style of dance.  For example, will.i.am might be looking for a dancer who can pop and lock for his next music video.  Therefore, you would need to submit footage of yourself popping and locking—not just a video of you doing hip hop. You can use footage from classes for these submissions, but it must be clear to the casting director which dancer you are.  It is always preferred, however, that the footage captures only you.  If that’s not possible, then make sure there are no more than 3 people in the frame!

If you don’t have footage of yourself performing a specific style of dance and you need it for a submission, then you’ll have to film something. It doesn’t have to be professionally shot—an iPhone works just fine. Ask a friend to film you. Letting your phone sit on a tripod will result in a wide shot. You will need to slate, stating your name, height, and agency. At this point, the camera should frame your face (shoulders and up). Then allow the camera to zoom out and follow you as you dance. You should be centered in the frame throughout the video.  If you are given a few days notice to submit for a project, I would suggest renting out a studio to film any materials you don’t already have. A studio space will look more professional than your living room.  If you don’t have the time or money to rent a studio, then dancing outside (with good lighting) can work just as well. Remember to dress the part.

This brings me to a final point.  Reels and video footage reveal more than just your skills as a dancer.  This is your chance to demonstrate your versatility, personality, and professionalism.  You don’t have to be the best at every style of dance, but you ought to train in as many styles as possible.  If possible, capture yourself on camera whenever you can. Even if the footage isn’t good enough to put in a reel, it is still a great learning tool! The more footage you gather, and most importantly, the more diverse footage you gather the more potential job opportunities you will have.  So get in front of the camera and show off!