As a teacher, you have already gone through the process of turning your passion for dance into a career. Your students, however, are just beginning to understand that dance is more than an after-school activity. To them, the dance industry probably looks a lot different than it does to you. While you understand rejections and the trial and error of developing a name for themselves, they are probably imagining the glitz and glam of major cities and big roles on Broadway. Because of this, preparing them for the world of professional dance as young dancers is important.
One of the best environments to carefully introduce students to some elements of the professional dance world is dance conventions. Conventions teach dancers to think and learn quickly and to adapt to choreography and strange partners. Beyond that, conventions are full of professional dancers that can give students valuable advice about pretty much every aspect of the dance world. Encourage your students to talk with their instructors and other students when they’re at dance conventions and try to learn one new thing about dance.
Teaching your students how to network is another important element of preparing them to dance professionally. Like any other career path, building relationships with other people in your field is essential for building future business relationships, gaining work experience, and even finding friends in your industry. For students, an introduction to networking can be a simple exercise in finding a new dance partner or even going to an audition to meet directors and casting agents.
If you think your students are ready for a more serious introduction to dancing professionally, recommend casting calls and auditions. Learning how to audition is a process that takes time. So, create a casting call or audition bulletin board in your studio where they can see opportunities for dancing in your area. They’ll gain valuable experience, and you’ll get to see your students in incredible productions.
Being a professional dancer, like any other path toward being a professional artist, can be complicated. With a little help and mentoring from you, your students will be able to master it before they even graduate from your studio!