Yay! You have decided to move to LA! Your to-do list has now grown exponentially, and you may not know where to start. To help you get organized and to make the transition easier, here are a few things to check off your list before moving.
1. Professional Materials
This means headshots, resumes, reels, generic video footage, and social media. All of this should be prepared before you settle down in LA. That said, it’s not worth the time or money to get new headshots before the move. The reason is this: if, shortly after you move to LA, your child signs with an agency, that agency may require you to go to a specific photographer to get headshots redone. And even if your child doesn’t get signed right away, you yourself may want to get your son’s or daughter’s headshots redone by LA professionals. Depending on where you currently live, you might not have easy access to a photographer who specializes in headshots for dancers. Sure, most photographers can take good headshots. But I believe that it is worth the investment to work with someone who specializes in headshots for people in the entertainment industry. So, it’s likely in your best interest to hold off on getting headshots redone before moving to LA. That does not, however, mean that you should wait to get headshots altogether. You must have some sort of headshot ready to use immediately. Likewise, make sure that you have a usable resume and reel and an established social media presence. You can improve and update these materials once you’ve moved. But don’t head out to LA without these basics on hand.
Since you are moving to LA for the sake of your child’s career, it is of the utmost importance that your child’s technique be the best it can possibly be. Depending on the age of child, make sure that they are training in heels before the move. Your child doesn’t have to master the high heel before setting foot in LA. But they should have some training or experience dancing in heels. I also suggest attending every dance convention possible prior to moving. Conventions offer great opportunities for dancers to try new styles of dance and to practice picking up movement. Furthermore, conventions get your child in front of working choreographers and creative directors. Most conventions hold an audition class as well. Participating in these classes will better prepare your child for auditioning in front of a panel of people.
This may sound alarmingly obvious, but do your research! It won’t be worth your time and money to move to LA if you don’t have a game plan in mind. If your child really wants to work with a specific artist or choreographer, find a path to that professional. If, for example, your son or daughter really wants to be a backup dancer for Jojo Siwa, then find out who has choreographed her last couple music videos and tours. Track down that choreographer on Instagram, and see when he/she is teaching next. Once you move to LA start taking the choreographer’s classes immediately and consistently. The creative director/choreographer you’re looking for doesn’t teach anymore? Find out if he/she had an assistant choreographer. And keep digging until you find who or what you need. Do not move to LA blind. Know your next steps. (Side note: this research should also include finding the when and where for upcoming agency auditions and the like.)
4. Reaching Out
Do you have contacts in LA? Friends, family, colleagues? If yes, then reach out to them before you move. Moving is stressful. Calling that old friend of yours might seem like one more thing to add to your never-ending to-do list. And when you get busy, that will be the first thing to fall to the wayside. But remember that your contacts in LA are invaluable resources—they can ease some of the burden of moving. Reaching out to your industry contacts will be especially important. Give them a gentle reminder that you are moving to the area in a month or in a couple weeks. Hopefully they will give you some advice that is specific to your needs or your child’s goals. Now is also the time to reach out to those would-be contacts. Have your child apply online to agencies about a month before you move out there. You never know what could come out of it!
I myself moved to LA a couple of years ago for the sake of my dance career. I know that it can be stressful and overwhelming—I imagine more so when moving an entire family. Taking these preparatory steps now will make your life easier later. And make sure your child is participating in this prep work. It’s important for your dancer to educate himself/herself on the industry and to know how much work is required.
Just so you know, you are already doing a great job. Pat yourself on the back, because being here, reading this blog is a big step in the right direction. And if you need additional information regarding any of the foregoing, then check out my other blogs (e.g., How to Write a Dance Resume or Dance Reels and Video Submissions). There are plenty of resources out there to get you on track for your move. 💫