Are You Ready?
by Grover Dale
For most of us, "getting ready" is built into our daily dancing lives. Whether it's getting ready for class, a rehearsal, a competition, an audition, or making a career leap, we know that "getting ready" requires preparation. Of course, luck can enter the picture and sometimes does. There's nothing wrong with wishing for it to happen. It just might. And then again, it might not. The truth is... focusing on luck tends to keep us in the wishing-and-hoping-mode far too long. If taking action is what counts, preparation is a lot more reliable. And it’s completely in our hands, where it should be. Job-readiness, here we come!
For the most part, we play all the roles. We're the dream weaver, the tool collector, the job hunter, and the marketing expert rolled into one. Sure, help comes from teachers, agents, and family, but essentially the journey is of our own making. In time, we realize that we’re ‘doing business’ in an industry where employers are simply more receptive to the ‘fully-prepared’ than the ‘under-prepared.’
How do the pros do it?
For answers, we went to the best sources we know. The following insights come from working dancers, choreographers, and agents.
LIZ IMPERIO, CHOREOGRAPHER
"If you really want to become a dancer, make sure you love it. Dancers face a lot of crap. We have to look a certain way. We have to be a certain height or have a certain hair color or be a certain ethnicity or a certain weight. Sometimes you find yourself facing a stream of auditions that have absolutely nothing to do with your talent and everything to do with your "look." After a while, I don’t care who you are.you can be the Statue of Liberty, strong and proud, it’ll still hurt. It hurts when we’re not chosen to perform something that’s so close and dear to us.
As dancers, our job as dancers is to "fine tune." Art is not something that comes out of nowhere, washes over you, and arrives fully formed. It is something that needs to be refined and made clean and paid attention to. Stay "tuned" and you can work for a long time."
MARTY KUDELKA, CHOREO
"Nothing’s impossible. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it. Everyone I’ve ever wanted to work with has happened. It’s still happening. When people ask me how that feels...I tell them it feels normal, because in my mind, it was supposed to happen."
MIA MICHAELS, AWARD-WINNING CHOREO
"Stay hungry to become the best that you can be. Never be satisfied with the level of artistry you’ve attained. You can always be better."
PEGGY HICKEY, STAGE / FILM / OPERA CHOREO
"Nobody should be in this business for anything other than "love." If you’re in it for something else, you’re in it for the wrong reason. If you don’t love to rehearse, work hard, or go the extra distance, stay home, or pick another profession."
TINA LANDON, AWARD-WINNING CHOREO
"Once you start paying attention to the "business" of being a dancer, that’s when the real professional kicks in."
TIM O’BRIEN, DIRECTOR OF CLEAR TALENT AGENCY
"Your business is not about getting the job you’re auditioning for today. It’s about showing the choreographer you're the right dancer to hire for the next six projects they're doing."
TERRY LINDHOLM & LISA COPPOLA / FOUNDERS OF GTA
"When you arrive in L.A. and start auditioning, you’ll be competing with seasoned professionals who can work the "biz" blindfolded. Get yourself ready now."
DARRIN HENSON, CHOREO, PRODUCER
"There’s no top to the ladder you’re climbing. If you enjoy the climb, it can go on forever."
AUSTIN MILLER, BROADWAY DANCER-ACTOR
"I’m still fueled by the dream I had when I was 12. Knowing that what I want is possible, I work harder so it will happen sooner."
WADE ROBSON, BRITNEY SPEARS / SYTYCD CHOREO
"Want the truth? The real dancing happens on the way to the "trick" and moving away from it."
GROVER DALE, AWARD-WINNING CHOREO / EDUCATOR
"When we work hard at what we love, we have a tendency to get darn good at it.
BRENDAN FILUK, DIRECTOR OF BLOC AGENCY
"Talent is 1/3 of what you need in this business. Good solid training is another 1/3. The last 1/3 is being on top of your business, which means being smart about who you associate with. It means conducting yourself in a professional manner at all times. It means showing up at auditions or rehearsals with a positive, cooperative, ready-to-work attitude. I have clients who work constantly in music videos and it's not because I send them out on five auditions a week...it’s because they’re on top of their business."