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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 If your photos are outdated or aren’t of the best quality, then they have a good reason to ask this of you.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.

NewsUncategorized
[ 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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[ 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!

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[ November 1, 2018 by Adrian 0 Comments ]

Our new home at Hilton Anaheim

Hilton Anaheim is our new HOME!

We’re beyond excited to announce that we have officially signed our contract with the Hilton Anaheim as our new home for the 2019 Hollywood Dance Experience.

Hilton Anaheim has a fantastic location, just one mile from Disneyland® Resort, makes it the perfect choice when we’re touring LA visiting the sights and taking dance classes. During our stay at the fabulous Hilton hotel, visit the Disney® Desk, where cast members can offer expert advice, provide tickets and organize a shuttle service to the world-class attractions. The comfortable rooms, fantastic dining and first-class facilities for recreation ensure you have an unforgettable stay in Anaheim, California as part of the Hollywood Dance Experience.

At Hilton Anaheim, dining options are designed with you in mind. Located within this Disneyland hotel are five on-site dining venues with nine options to choose from. Start the day with a hearty breakfast or nutritious light bite at Mix Lounge; savor innovative dishes prepared with only the freshest ingredients at Mix Restaurant, or simply relax with a cup of coffee at our in-house Starbucks™.

Prefer dining al fresco? In the warmer months, our Pool Bar & Grill, adorned with multiple large screen LCD televisions, offers specialty tropical cocktails, smoothies and other beverages and serves light snacks and grilled items such as fish, hamburgers and chicken.

We’re looking forward to seeing you here at the Anaheim Hilton on July 23!

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[ October 21, 2018 by Adrian 0 Comments ]

TAKE THE STUDIO TOUR – UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, and for film fans, the ultimate experience is a behind-the-scenes studio tour. At Universal Studios Hollywood, the Studio Tour is perhaps its most legendary attraction – and its original one, having debuted in 1915, not long after the theme park opened. Narrated by Jimmy Fallon, the Studio Tour offers guests the chance to explore the working backlot of a real Hollywood movie studio. The tour includes Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson’s heart-pounding King Kong 360 3D, and the world’s largest 3D experience, which make it one of the best things to do in LA.

 

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[ June 21, 2018 by Adrian 0 Comments ]

DIVE INTO LA LA LAND

“Los Angeles is a city that reveals itself bit by bit, like an onion, if you take time to explore it.”

– Damien Chazelle, Writer/Director

The City of Angels once again gets a star turn courtesy of LA LA LAND. The characters Mia and Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, sashay around town in love with each other and Los Angeles.