During our first decade of CoreDance, we’ve had some incredible adjudicators. These talented people continue to be mentors in the community and were excited when we asked them the share their expertise once again. This week, our interviews are focussed on all of you dancers out there eager to start a career in the arts. Keep your eyes peeled for more words of wisdom coming your way next week!
My best piece of audition advice is to understand that there are tons of ways to get a dance job beyond the audition! (Maybe this could be called anti-audition advice). Sure auditions happen, and yes you want to be prepared. Know who you are auditioning for. Do your research. Don’t show up for a Rockettes audition in sweatpants. But beyond that, most dance jobs in this country are acquired outside of an audition setting. Particularly in the contemporary dance scene, its all about who you know. If a choreographer has seen you dance before, has perhaps taught you, and likes you, they are much more likely to hire you if a job opportunity arises. I would suggest first of all figure out what kind of work you want to do. Dance is a vulnerable art form and being genuine is very important. If you are faking it just to book a job, its obvious. Decide what kind of dance you like, find teachers you want to learn from, find choreographers who inspire you and figure out how to get in front of them. Take classes, sign up for workshops, travel, experience dancing in different cities. All of this will lead to you figuring out what scene you belong in and a higher chance of booking a dream job!
A career in the dance/ performance art industry gives you a specialized lens through which you can examine the world. Generally, dancers and performers have strong leadership skills, excel at understanding movement, interpreting nuance, and understanding non-verbal communication. Dancers and performers learn to consider and hold multiple viewpoints at the same time, have a strong sense of community and a unique capacity for empathizing with others. These skills are valuable in any realm, inside or outside of dance and art. Dancers are valuable community members. Almost every dancer I know prides themselves on taking care of their community in some capacity.
~Caitlin Griffin (Photo Credits: Michal Urbanic @urbanlabel)
For the dancers out there hoping for a career as a teacher: Be selfless. Teaching is not about showing off what you can do, it is 100% about the students and their growth. Always be prepared. Have alesson plan that is longer than you need – it is better to not get through everything than to have extra time left over, especially for younger kids who are not able to focus as long.
Figuring out what you want to do with your life after high school can be extremely difficult. If you’ve grown up dancing, and have been serious enough about it to consider pursuing dance as a career, then it’s time to figure out what you need to do to make it happen. You can of course just dive in and audition for roles or a spot in a company, get an agent, or move to a big city to train and audition. Or, you can go to a post-secondary school to further your training and prepare for your dance career, while getting an education.
What are your steps?
Ask yourself what it is you want out of your education. Do you want to teach, do you want to dance professionally? What styles do you want to focus on? There are so many options, so take time to really think about it. Some people want a degree as a back up plan in case their dance career doesn’t work out. Some people want the option to study something else while kick starting their dance career (minoring in kinesiology is popular amongst dancers). If a degree sounds like a long term, intimidating plan, look into your diploma options!
Next, you need to determine what you want to get out of the program. Most Canadian schools offer options for ballet, contemporary, or commercial dance. Simon Fraser University, for example, is Contemporary based. You’ll study ballet, but the prime focus is on modern techniques such as Graham, Cunningham, and Horton. Ryerson offers a broader curriculum which includes modern, ballet, contemporary, and jazz. University of Regina offers an education degree with a focus on dance, preparing you to teach in public schools. George Brown College aims to prepare you for a career in commercial performance.
Find out what your options are
We’ve provided a list of post-secondary dance programs in Canada. Keep in mind that we have only listed Canadian schools, but there are international options, as well! We have also only listed Colleges and Universities. There are many additional professional training programs in Canada, we’ve just limited our list to those offering post-secondary accreditation.
Do Your Research
Your first step will be to check out the websites of the schools you are interested in. Find out when application deadlines and auditions are. It’s also worth your time to reach out to current students and alumni: ask them about their experiences, what they love about the program, what they find challenging, and what the audition experience was like. Look up what their alumni are up to. Attend an info session or check out the campus.
Find out what you need for the application & audition
In addition to your High School Requirements and the basic application process, dance programs will require an audition. You’ll either need to attend an audition (which means travel, staying in a hotel, making sure you have someone to accompany you), or submit a video audition- in which case, you need to make a video. You’ll also need headshots, a dance resume, references and/or reference letters, and you should be prepared to answer questions in an interview setting.
I hope this has given you some new information on your options for studying dance at university. There are so many great options out there, so find the one that’s right for you. Good luck on your journey!