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How to Earn a Living as A Dancer? by Bagsy

Working as a professional dancer is by no means an easy task. A dream to begin with might even be a novelty at first until the reality of surviving on a dancers income sets in. With the increasing demands of living in city like London most of your money earned tends to go out a lot faster than it comes in. It becomes increasingly difficult to save money, keep up payments on bills, eat healthily and most importantly continue to enjoy dancing.

When push comes to shove, working as a dancer begins to lose its lustre and the focus is more on making ends meet than doing it for the love. So is there a way to earn a living as a dancer? Is it possible to be full-time dancing your craft and even do grown-up things like saving money or buying a house? Or is there only hope for the very few and very best of dancers who have a shot of actually living the dream?

 

In my experience I have come across a number of highly established dancers from various worlds. Yes there are many worlds in dance each with their own vantage point to becoming successful and the trend is the same; only a very few and very famous dancers last the test of time and live comfortably doing what they love.

However all is not lost for us lesser established folk. The ones that struggle audition by audition, anxious waits for that return casting call via email or text message that you know would be rent money for the next two months, the grafters in competitions and battles pushing harder to be number one, to be the overall victor and the teachers that pray that the next class will bring more than just the over zealous dancers who's just watched You Got Served.

 

There are ways to work towards financial comfort (this by no means making it big and rich like Ashley Banjo but....at least close.) and hopefully getting back to working your dance not dancing to work.

Below are just a few of a multitude of points however these are just my top 7 of what I found to be the most productive way of making dance work for you. 

 

1. NETWORKING

You can't get around it, you have to network it is a must and golden rule for all dancers. If people don't know you how can you exist in the industry. How can they suggest work, refer you to potential clients and gigs. Your networking list is your client list. People you can always go back to when looking for work. If they like you they are more than likely to continue helping you find them jobs. So go to events, take part in workshops, competitions, showcases, talks be an integral part of the scene and it will reward you.

 

2. TRAVEL

Yes I'm sorry you're going to have to spend here a bit but that's just part of the game, it's an investment. Travel to events outside of the country but not as a spectator but as a participant. Make it a goal to take part more than watch others dazzle the crowd. You don't have to be top dog, what really counts is can you make an impression on the people around you. Show them how much you love the dance,bring something different, new to the table and they will forever remember you and so will potential clients watching.

 

3. BUILD A STRONG PROFILE

This includes making videos of your dance, recording yourself performing, battling, teaching, it is vital in this new world of social media frenzy that just keeps growing rapidly. Visual aids of your work is a powerful too in people getting a quick idea of what you are capable of doing.

Create a profile page or website of yourself and work. Its easy and efficient to navigate clients via email, txt or word of mouth to a place they can marvel, learn and engage with all that you are. Treat your profile like a product, build it, maintain it and sell the hell out of it!

 

4.TRAIN

This goes without saying but the level of attitude is very different across the dance world. Ballet dancers put in thousands of hours to perfect their craft whereas many street dancers hardly train weekly. You ARE the product as much as treating your body as a commodity it IS. The industry is entertainment/dance so what you deliver cannot be your dirty laundry, it has to be a strong finished product. As with everything nothing is perfect but perfection lies in the struggle to become. A dancers journey never ends but before you step onto the world stage be prepared to say "THIS IS ME, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT."  love your craft wholeheartedly and train like there is no tomorrow. These sacrifices and investments now will lead you to a very strong but most importantly consistently successful career.

 

5.TEACHING

This is the single most efficient and consistent way to make money. All the above should be completed to a high degree including obtaining qualifications to teach where applicable. By creating regular classes you can pull in regular income. It will not always be the same amount every class but through strong development of the above points, you can earn enough to meet your living needs.

 

6. HEALTH

This should go without saying but it is easy to forget the importance of maintain the very thing that brings us work. Our bodies requires constant upgrading, repair and maintenance just like a sports car. If we don't look after it, eventually it will breakdown, fail even be written off. Proper nutrition and physical care is vital for the longevity of our bodies. We put our bodies through so much tension, stress and impact that it would be ludicrous to not take care of it. Yoga, Pilates, stretching especially PNF techniques and massage therapy should all be administered at some point on a regular during our dancing career. Good health also means a good mental state, attitude towards work and people, reduction in procrastination and a positive mentality towards all that surrounds our dance will inevitably keep us dance happy for much longer.

7. MANAGEMENT

This I believe is the single most important factor for living as a dancer. Management I believe is not well taught in dance schools and colleges and you are often left living class lessons day by day than taken the class lessons at college. A lot of the education is focused around the dance primarily and not a lot of emphasis on things like, planning, time management, book keeping, clientele building, marketing, video editing/production, financial investments, strategy, risk assessment, tax and so on.

I believe it is important to do what you need to do to earn the money that can fuel your dance journey. This may mean simply getting a part-time job, or full-time job that allows you the flexibility to work on your dance.

Managing your bookings, working out your finances for the month, budgeting your spending and watching your tax. All of these are very business orientated wisdom but that's what many of us forget or have lack of ...we ARE essentially business men and women. We are entrepreneurs of our craft so we do everything associated with the success of our product albeit the physicality, the admin or the finance.

Now I am not saying that I am one of those big time successful dancers, I struggle just as much as the next person but I have learnt a great deal observing and imitating others strategy that has helped me to at least pay my way.

The above points are by no means the holy grail for being a top dancer living the high life, but they are great tools and ways of thinking that I have come across on my journey and seen on other peoples journey's that has led them to great success in their career.

I believe everyone can make it work but not everyone can make it big. That's just life and you are in control of your own destiny. Focus on yourself, work and spend money within your means and you can most definitely live a life enjoying your dance not resenting it.

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/michael.oladele?pnref=story

website - http://www.sketchesofadancer.co.uk/single-post/2015/05/01/How-To-Earn-A-Living-as-A-Dancer

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IDO World Championships- Graz,Austria 2016 - By Kiara Scotland

IDO World Championships- Graz,Austria 2016

Through the collaboration of Shake That dance school and IMD Legion; Mighte Legion was created. An East London crew fused with a dance school in Kent became a hardworking and dedicated group who went to highlight and represent the talents of the UK dance scene in the IDO World Championships.

The competition:

After a long, tiresome journey at 4am travelling the wet streets of Graz we arrived at the hotel. At this point, we knew that this would be our last moment of rest before the chaos of the competition ahead. With only a few hours sleep, we were up at 9am to go register and support our members of the crew who were competing in the solo and duo categories and Shake That's junior formation crew "Innov8". When we entered the arena the reality kicked in- seeing the high standard from the other countries such as South Africa, Canada, Slovenia and Russia caused some fear but a hunger of wanting to be successful. The soloists and duos were brilliant, however no one made the finals. Next, it was Innov8's turn; their powerful set had gained them a place into the next round of the competition. The time of celebration was shortly followed by intense rehearsals because everybody knew that the competition was getting harder and things could still be improved.

Then there was Mighte, although we were not performing until the next day we had witnessed the standard and knew that we had to drill our set. We rehearsed for many hours despite the lack of sleep; we made sure that we were constantly drilling, section-by-section to make sure that we were clean and powerful, SO we had to keep pushing. Omar (CEO of IMD) was jumping in and out of the set for this was the first time that Omar had ever been in a set with us therefore he had the responsibility of being a teacher but also a member of the team, not to forget making the music for both sets.

This set was hard. One of the hardest sets that we have ever done, people doing things they have never done before including Omar doing a flare that he was training so hard to get. The set was on going and there was never a moment to stop and rest but to make it worse we were wearing facemasks. Although it was hard to breath in them we knew that had to act professional and get over this minor factor and focus on the importance of the set. Rehearsals had come to an end at around 10pm and we went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the upcoming day.

The next day came and we went straight to the arena to start rehearsals. This was it. We started vigorous training, our bodies were aching from the day before but this is what we've been training for. Before Mighte had to perform the battle crews had to compete in the preliminary rounds.

We had an U16 (Shake That) and Over16 (IMD) crew. To say they were amazing is an understatement; as a result we later found out that both of our crews had to battle for either gold or silver against another UK crew Young Lions and 3 Lions. This meant that the UK would come top two on the podium. Now it was time for Mighte Legion to perform. Backstage we had our traditional prayer time and we had to pump ourselves up. Surprisingly, it was an emotional moment for us all. The build up for this competition was hectic; the hours of rehearsals, injuries, long nights, all the money spent to get to Austria had all come down to these 3minutes on stage. This could have been the first and last time we performed. They announced our name and we ran on to the floor, our hearts we beating as we stood still waiting for the music to play. We completed the set as best as we could, it was such a relief when we took off those masks! The floor was draining so we were all breathless when we finished. We came from backstage and was greeted by all of our younger members and parents who said that we were brilliant, even people from other countries were praising us. We asked to watch the video of the set straight away to see how we did and point out any mistakes. Later on in the day, we found out that we were through to the Semi Finals and so was our junior formation crew Innov8. This had only meant more training. Many members were injured but pushed through it, even Omar had a dislocated thumb but decided to keep it a secret with only a few of us knowing because he wanted to keep on pushing for the crew. After another long day of rehearsals we went back to the hotel. We spoke to some of the people from Canada who was so friendly and delightful.

We woke up the next day, again really early to go and rehearse. After Innov8's fantastic performance we shortly came to find out that unfortunately they did not get through to the finals but we were extremely proud of them coming 10th out of over 50 crews from all over the world. Next, the battle crews started. After two brilliant battles our Under16 crew came first and our Over16 crew came second. Taboo (UK) came 3rd in the Under16 category and TMI (UK) came 3rd in the Over16 category. For the first time ever in IDO world history we had an all UK podium. What a proud moment for us all!

Now it was time for Mighte Legion to represent the UK as well. We performed as best as we could once again with many things improved after watching the previous videos and the set felt so much better to perform, so now we just had to wait. We all knew the competition was strong and many amazing crews did not even make it this far so we were grateful to get to this point. Honestly, many of us had doubts. Only a few members of the team were in the arena when they had announced the results of who was through to final. Then they came to join the rest of the team to deliver the news that we were through to the finals! We were ecstatic; we couldn't believe that we were through to the finals of the World Championships. Top 6 out of the whole world. As expected we started rehearsing straight away. We had got this far, our main aim now was to go out and win. Pushing through injuries and pain we rehearsed through the night. After we was finished, we was on our way back to the hotel, then I (Kiara) heard some music and spotted a German crew dancing outside of the arena. Being my normal self, I went over and joined them. Even though they didn't speak much English what they say is true- dance is a universal language and we just connected straight away and had fun. We went back to the hotel, as we needed some rest for the big day ahead of us.

Today was the day. The day of the finals, who would of thought we would come this far. We were rehearsing yet again, making sure that this time our set was perfect as it is our last time performing it. We went backstage and waited for the gala to start. We all felt the pressure. The boys were going over their sections to make sure they had it mastered and the girls were doing the same with their section. Before we knew it we were at the side of the stage ready to perform. The fear kicked in but we had to turn our nerves into adrenaline and do our best. Omar always says to us " Fight for success as much as you need to breath" and that is exactly what we went out and done. At the end of the set we had a risky hat trick that tragically went wrong. At that moment my heart sunk, I witnessed the hat drop on the floor just as we finished what it felt like a strong performance. However, using intelligence Xav picked up the hat and done a back tuck to try and save it. When we came off the stage many people were emotional for two main reasons. The first being that one of the rules stated that if an item of clothing drops on the floor and someone picks it up it leads to straight disqualification so many people were scared at the thought of being disqualified. The second reason being that this was the last time that Mighte Legion would ever perform together as a crew because of the split between Shake That and Statement dance school.

Everyone was devastated and came to the realisation that we were not going to win. I tried to reassure everyone to stay positive and Omar was doing the same. Whilst this was going on I noticed Sherelle in the corner with her head into her chest. I went over to see if she was okay and she told me that she hit her head whilst doing her cheerleading stunt and she was in great pain. Straight away, I went to find the medics of the competition and some parents who were qualified in first aid. When I came back I was told that Sherelle was going to the hospital because she had concussion and Omar was going with her. We was all scared and panicking but we had to stay at the arena to wait for the results. After many amazing performances from last year’s winners of IDO it was time for the results. On stage we was joined with two other crews from the UK: Elysium and DDC. They announced Mighte Legion as 6th place, Elysium 4th and DDC 3rd. We were so happy for everyone in the UK and for Redemption (Slovenia) and So Fly (Russia) who came 2nd and 1st. After the pictures were taken they played music and we all had one massive jam in the middle of the stage which really uplifted the mood and made us see the reason why we was there was there; to dance and enjoy ourselves.

We later found out that we came 3rd in the semi finals. To know that out of around 60 crews we was 3rd at one point proved that everything we sacrificed was worth it. To end our exciting trip on the last night we went out for Nick's birthday to a Chinese buffet where we could finally unwind and just enjoy each other’s company.  When we got back to the hotel, we ran into the Canada team who told us that we were their favorite crew out of the whole competition, which was really heart-warming

IDO was an amazing experience, even though we had some stressful situations it was nothing compared to all the fun times we had. The memories we made on this trip and the fight that we all had was indescribable and I would do it all again. Now it's time to reflect on what we can improve on and keep training for our upcoming competitions such as World Of Dance and HHI and we will definitely be back next year with the aim of winning.

Until next time IDO...

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