Get a Job: Marketing Yourself to Dance Companies

When you’re a dancer, sweet sixteen isn’t just a birthday milestone, it’s the age you start thinking of how to begin your career. You’re two years from high school graduation, even less if you’ve sped up your courses. At sixteen, you might even start flying out to company auditions to gain experience and get seen by artistic directors.

It can be pretty intimidating to get started though – How do you make a dance resume? How do you find ballet companies where you might be a fit and stand the best chance of getting a contract? How can you put together an awesome audition package with sophisticated videos and photographs that will really help get you a job?

Rachel Neville, author of the popular and thoughtfully made Leotard Buying Guide, is here to help with these questions. A former dancer, Rachel is now a well-known dance and movement photographer in NYC. She’s going above and beyond to create free resources for dancers crossing this point in their careers. In her latest effort, Rachel talks candidly about a each step in the process from researching companies to ensuring you are presenting yourself in the most effective way possible. Subscribe to Rachel’s blog to be notified of new videos as they are published, and check out the latest edition below.

A Dancer’s Musician: Christopher Ferris

Two years ago, I tweeted about and backed a Kickstarter project by Christopher Ferris. Ferris, an artist, composer and performer with a gift for improvisation, works with the Evergreen City Ballet school and training company as an accompanist. I absolutely adore Christopher’s story on his first experience playing for a ballet class –  it was part of the first promotion video about the project here. Ferris became in time a dancer’s musician, able to create just the right mood and perfect tempo for every step and moment.

Working with dancers eventually inspired Ferris to create his own class album, and during the funding push he made some nifty videos where he thanked his backers to his own live music. It was just delightful to hear my own name. Sadly, the project did not reach its goal – but Ferris didn’t let that stop him. Like the true artist he is, Ferris doubled down his commitment to his work.

Today, Christopher publishes this inaugural album, Music for Ballet Class: Syncopé, available utterly for free to listen to here, or for purchase on CD or MP3 files. This body of work represents an enormous effort by the artist, the team at Lake Union Recording, photographer Tim Aguero, designer Ryan Obermeier, and the artistic staff of Evergreen City Ballet, including two former principal dancers with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Plus, it’s beautifully played on a spectacular concert grand piano.

It’s beyond generous for this music to be available free of charge to listen to. Check out the album, and if you like it – for gosh sake’s support the arts and these artists by ponying up for the CD, MP3, or iTunes version!

Congratulations to Christopher and all the artists involved in the making of this beautiful ballet class album. May you inspire dancers and dance teachers around the world.

Dancewear en l’air: K.D. Dance Gets a Reboot

IMG_2252_876701f3-08ae-4c01-bbf9-fb39800d3b1e_grandeK.D. Dance sweaters and roll-down tights were all the rage for dancers in the 90s, but over the years lost the market to bigger names like Bloch and sports brands like UnderArmour. Now they’re back for your consideration with a reboot and a new website.

K.D. remains focused on  craftsmanship, materials, and name-dropping (the first item I clicked on referenced its use in a recent Beyonce photoshoot), but returns with new photography and more of an American Apparel-y type feel. Their new product line is also much more streamlined and focused on particular colors, versus the formerly broad list of endlessly similar pieces available in countless hues that used to take forever to sift through. Is this a better strategy for the dancewear maker? Only time will tell.

K.D. Dance products are made to order, so if you buy from their site you are looking at some wait time, similar to Eleve. If you’ve never purchased a K.D. Dance product, you really can’t go wrong with the 03 sweater, a classic piece that’s an absolute compliment machine.

Ballet in Film: Ballerinatips

RachelSilvermanI’d love to introduce you guys today to a youtube channel called Ballerinatips by young dancer Rachel Silverman. Follow Rachel as she shares her experience and takes you into her world of being a serious dance student.

Videos on Rachel’s channel cover everything from what’s in my dance to how to make a great ballet bun, audition vlogs, and of course there is a Yumiko collection video! For those of you preparing for an SI this summer, you’ll particularly enjoy Rachel’s video on how to pack for a summer intensive. There are also a bunch of fun videos of Rachel and her friends in class and rehearsal with, of course, some tips on what they have learned.

Check out Rachel’s channel, and maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own ballet youtube vlog for me to feature one day!

Ballet in Print: Raising the Barre

RaisingtheBarreAnyone who knows me knows that it doesn’t take much for me to quickly have my fill of all things Nutcracker. So I couldn’t have been more surprised than to absolutely love Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker, chronicling the author’s crusade to dance with a professional company in Nut after being deterred from the profession years ago as a child (by a teacher who’s name most of you will recognize.) Lauren Kessler is a fabulous writer, and on this journey she takes every advantage of the humor and drama that come along with her goal.

What makes this book so great a read for a dancer in training for the profession – aside from the very funny and thoughtful philosophies she points out about what we do – is the candid and fascinating insight into the mind of a ballet fan. Balletomane is an out of fashion word, but it absolutely applies to Kessler and the many devotees that consistently support the art – your future fan base, if there is to be one for ballet. And to learn how they view dancers, the ballet, dance companies, and what dancers are is nothing short of invaluable for someone who does or hopes to one day create that art. Her love and passion for understanding how and what professional dancers’ do what they do leaps off the page.

Raising the Barre is just the right prescription whether you’re burned out from performance (especially Nutcracker!) or just need some new fresh motivation to tackle your never-ending classes. This is actually one of the most interesting and entertaining books I’ve read about the ballet world, and I have definitely read way too many. Pretty surprising that it was written by someone from outside of the ballet world, though she’s certainly in it now!