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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.