As a dancer, your headshot and resume are your “business card” in the industry. Here are a few helpful tips to make them stand out:
- Hire a professional photographer. While your best friend might take some free photos of you with a digital camera, the trained eye and helpful advice of a professional photographer is usually worth the expense.
- Look like YOU! The casting director will (hopefully!) keep your headshot as he or she makes callback and casting decisions. If the casting director doesn’t recognize you/remember you from your headshot, he/she is likely to toss your headshot to the side.
- Be natural. Come to the shoot looking clean and put together, but keep your makeup and styling fresh and natural. Practice your “poses” the night before. Keep your poses organic and true to your personality. Oh, and be sure to act your age!
- Know the job. Research the audition you’re attending and make sure your headshot choice is in line with the job – a bright and smiley commercial headshot versus a more mature headshot for straight theater. Always have at least two contrasting options on hand.
- Update your headshot every few years or whenever you make a significant physical change such as a drastic haircut or a change in hair color.
- Keep it clean. You want the casting director to look at you, so avoid wearing shirts with intricate or distracting patterns and posing in front of a busy scene. Also steer clear of wearing lots of jewelry. You want to look like a clean slate that can mold into whatever character the casting director wants you to play.
- Have options. Bring at least three different tops to the shoot. Experiment with different facial expressions and angles. Try shooting both indoors and outside.
- Have ‘em handy. Print your headshots on photo paper with a thin white border and your name in the bottom corner (in a clean, professional font). It used to be the “norm” to have classic black and white headshots, but nowadays color is “in.” Cut your headshots to 8×10 inches to match your resume. Always have 5-10 copies of your headshots in your bag! You never know when a last minute audition will come up or when a teacher will ask to keep your headshot on file.
- K.I.S.S. (“Keep It Simple, Sweetie”). Your name should be at the top of your resume in a clean, bold, and slightly larger text. Use a “sans-serif” font, one that is easy to read and free of embellishments. Your resume should not exceed one page in length. And don’t try to squeeze as much as you can on your resume if it means you’ll have size 6 font. You can still show off your accomplishments by keeping your resume short and sweet.
- Note your “stats.” You can exclude your batting average, but be sure to include the basics: hair color, eye color, height, weight or body type, vocal range, etc. (you do not need to include your age!).
- Stay in touch. Include your contact information like your phone number and e-mail address. Use a phone number where you can usually be reached (this may end up being your cell phone). You don’t want to miss a callback because you weren’t home to check your voicemail. Also make sure you use a simple, professional e-mail address. Recycle your middle school “firstname.lastname@example.org” for “email@example.com.” Make sure this contact information is up-to-date!
- Organize. Separate your resume into subheadings: Performance Experience (Theater, Film/TV, Industrial, etc.), Training (include styles and teachers), Awards/Scholarships, and Special Skills (ex. Driver’s license, languages you speak, and other talents that might help you land the job).
- Order up. Unlike a business resume, you don’t need to include specific dates on your dance resume. List your most notable experiences first, along with the venue or director/choreographer’s name.
- Be honest. If you’re just starting out, don’t be embarrassed if you don’t have a lot to list on your resume – everyone starts somewhere. It’s alright to include competition awards you’ve won or college dance concerts you’ve performed in. You can recycle these credits for more notable ones once you have a few more jobs under your belt. Also, don’t lie about your special skills! If you say that you can yodel, the casting director may ask you to do it on the spot at the audition.
- Show off! If you have a lot of experience under your belt, organize a few versions of your resume to cater to specific auditions calls – commercial, theatrical, concert dance, etc.
- Keep it clean, too. Like your headshot, cut your resume to 8×10 inches. Staple your resume to your headshot so that both are facing out. Be sure to do this BEFORE you come to an audition.
On Friday, March 16th the students of BDC’s Professional Semester woke up and arrived at the studio bright and early for their first mock audition of the program. The series of four mock auditions (theater, company work, hip hop/commercial, and decade-themed) allow the students to experience a typical dance casting and also receive constructive feedback from a panel of experts including BDC faculty, talent agents, and casting directors. Like a normal audition, the Professional Semester students are evaluated not only on their dance technique and style, but also on their headshots and resumes, physical appearance, attention to detail, and self-confidence.
Each audition begins with “slating,” a process in which each dancer steps forward to introduce his or her name and a memorable fact. “Slating is the first opportunity for us to get to know you,” says Lakey Wolff, an agent from CESD Talent Agency. “This is your chance to show your personality, energy, and enthusiasm.”
Natalie: “I can hula hoop with fire.”
Holly: “I have dual citizenship in the United States and Canada.”
Marleen: “My favorite toe is the big toe!”
The slating process also allows casting directors and choreographers to look at you. Dance is a visual art, and how you present yourself physically is extremely important. “I like clean lines and neat hair,” says Lakey, “Stand out with color or a unique leotard cut. Oh! And no costume mishaps, please!”
Next up? Warm up! “But don’t forget,” notes Eric Bourne of Parsons Dance Company, “even though we’re warming up, you’re still auditioning!” Be sure to stay present and engaged throughout the organized warm-up because the panel is likely still watching you. In the words of Bonnie Erickson, Educational Programs Director at the BDC, “Are you happy to be here and ready to work? Show us that you love dancing.”
Following warm-up, certain auditions will start with typing (early elimination based on looks, height, hair color, etc.) or a ballet cut. The combination is often across the floor and fairly straightforward so that the choreographer can get a sense of your technical background. Even when you’re learning the combination, always perform your arms full out. Ask politely to switch lines; Even if you can pick up the combination from the back corner of the room, the panel probably isn’t able to see you.
Next, students learn a short combination in the style of the show. Bonnie Erickson and Jim Cooney, who lead the Professional Semester program, highly encourage dancers to research the show and/or choreographer ahead of time to gain familiarity with the movement and style. When learning the combination, be sure to focus in on the details of the movement. Often, the choreographer will teach the movement without performing it full out. In that case, the choreographer will usually have an assistant to demonstrate the movement alongside him or her. Watch the assistant! The choreographer, in an audition setting, will rarely give corrections (but if they do, you’d better apply it ASAP, even if the correction was made to another dancer). The panel wants to know how much you are able to bring to the table without them having to pull it out of you – an approachable personality, strong dance technique, an eye for details, ability to pick up choreography, a respectful attitude, and professional demeanor.
Before you know it, you will be split up into small groups to perform the combination (but this is not the “start” of the audition, as you are being watched from the moment you enter the room!). “Pay attention to your spacing,” says Mishay Petronelli (BDC teacher and Assistant to the Director). “If the audition coordinator tells you, ‘#1 downstage, #2 upstage, etc.,” you need to follow directions when you take the floor and hold that spacing throughout the combination.” You’ll often get the opportunity to perform the choreography twice. Dana Foglia (BDC teacher and choreographer for the Professional Semester commercial mock audition) remarked, “Sometimes you’ll be the best in your group and sometimes you’ll be in a group of beasts and have to fight for your life.”
Nowadays, freestyle is a huge part of the audition process, be it “Chicago” the musical or a Madonna international tour. Sometimes you’ll just be asked to freestyle for the first cut – before you even learn a combination! “For your freestyle, I appreciate when you move the way you are rather than simply conforming to the style,” says Dana Foglia. Explore different levels, dynamics, and styles in your freestyle. The best way to gain confidence and versatility in your freestyle, says Foglia, is to take diverse and challenging classes from a variety of teachers.
Today is the final dance of the Spring Professional Semester 2012 – “Merde!” to all of the dancers for their final mock audition today!
Hear about two of BDC’s Professional Semester Alumni who recently signed with two of the top talent agencies in New York City. Congratulations, Nikki and Matt! We’re so proud of you!
Why did you choose to go to the audition?
I chose to go to the MSA open call because it has been the agency that I’ve been looking to sign with since moving to New York. They have a lot of really skilled, talented performers and choreographers signed with them, including some of my favourite choreographers – Al Blackstone, Josh Bergasse, Derek Mitchell, and Maria Torres.
How did you prepare for the audition?
I trained really hard all last year taking classes in a variety of styles including Ballet, Theatre, Tap, Hip Hop, Latin Jazz, Gymnastics, Voice and Acting. I completed the Fall Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Center in which we completed 12 classes a week and had helpful seminars regarding headshots and resumes, nutrition, and mock auditions for all different styles. I received a vast amount feedback from this semester that helped me grow tremendously!
What was the audition environment like?
The audition was at Pearl Studios. There were hundreds of people! We lined up to get our numbers and you could either audition for ‘commercial’ or ‘theatre’. I decided to audition for both so I was there from about 11am-6.30pm. We learned each combination in about 15 minutes and then performed it in small groups of 5. For the theatre audition we also had to sing a 16 bar cut.
How did you feel the audition went?
I felt good about the audition – I had met Lucille at Josh Bergasse’s Music Theatre Summer Program and also at a Professional Semester mock audition, which eased my nerves a little. I had prepared the best way I could before the audition and knew that I gave my best, no matter the outcome.
When did you receive the call?
Why did you choose to go to the audition?
I chose to go to the audition for the experience. Auditions are a perfect learning atmosphere to figure out your strengths and weaknesses in order to move forward.
How did you prepare for the audition?
I did my research on which choreographers the agency represents because I knew some of them would be teaching the audition combinations. I was sure to hit the gym and take class a lot prior to the audition. I also did a lot of positive-thinking and reflecting to be mentally ready.
What was the audition environment like?
The studios were packed with dancers! We were typed cast right away. I felt like it was quite competitive in there until we got to the last few cuts; After a long day, the atmosphere became more supportive.
How did you feel the audition went?
I felt extremly hyped and full of energy all day. As the day went by and I was asked to stay, I surprisingly become more relaxed! This completely shoked me, but I realized that it was just a matter of giving everything I have and hoping for the best.
When did you receive the call?
I was informed 5 days later, Friday at 5:30pm. I remember the entire conversation! That was the longest 5 days of my life! I was so happy and I couldn’t believe it at first. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a dream until I signed my contract and I heard “Welcome to Bloc.”
In the center of the room, “little orange” was teaching her Big Sis a complicated handshake like the one in “The Parent Trap.” “Big blue” was stage left, reviewing choreography with her “mini me.”
At 9:15pm sharp, Lainie Munro, founder and choreographer of the Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program, called “places” for the final run-through.
The jazzy song began, “Dancin’ Fool” from Copacabana, and the dancers began tap-dancin’ away. The energy of the room was as bright as the dancers’ neon T-shirts. Each pair of siblings got a chance to strut their stuff on stage before the entire cast broke into unison. Their tapping feet and smiling faces seemed so contagious that the audience of parents found themselves clapping and cheering along with the dancers.
“I’m having a lot of fun!” said Ayonna, a Little Sister. “Lainie pushed me further than I knew I could go as a dancer.”
Ms. Munro does challenge the young dancers with complex tap technique and character choices – but the kids step up to the plate and shine next to their Broadway siblings.
“I’m a big sister – I was always teaching my little sister and rehearsing her. I guess I was born to be a teacher!” said Munro, who also teaches tap and theater classes at Broadway Dance Center. “But I always longed for a big sister, or mentor, of my own to show me the ropes of becoming a Broadway performer.”
After performing in national tours and regional theaters across the country, Ms. Munro started working at Broadway Dance Center in the Children and Teen’s Program (CTP). “It was there,” said Munro, “that I realized how talented those young dancers were and was motivated to match the kids up with professional Broadway mentors.”
Inspired by the original Big Brother/Big Sister Program, Ms. Munro founded the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program in 2001 to provide aspiring young performers ages 9-17 a unique opportunity to work with Broadway professionals one-on-one, through rehearsals and performance of a production number.
“The children gain an invaluable experience,” said Munro. “They learn about performing/acting with a partner, staging, and professional work ethics. They learn a lot about the ‘business’ of show business and the hard work and discipline involved in making a career as a professional performer.”
“Lainie is the best – there’s truly no one like her,” said Marie, whose daughter, Mariah is in her final year at BDC’s CTP and will be heading to study pre-med at Drew University next fall. “Lainie brings out the best in her dancers. If you watch Lainie’s class, you think you’re watching a Broadway rehearsal.”
It is no surprise that Ms. Munro was selected as a finalist for the 2003 Woman’s Day Magazine Awards, “Women That Inspire Us”, for her work with the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program.
After an audition in the spring, children from BDC’s CTP are selected and matched with a professional dancer whose own personality, style and interests compliment the child – a true “Big Brother” or “Big Sister.”
“It’s a very personal process,” explained Munro. ” I start with picking the kids and then I go out into the theater community and try to match each kid with a performer. I’ll call up friends or e-mail performers I’ve seen in shows or deliver a letter to the stage door.”
“Even his mom thinks Henry and I are brothers,” said Jeremy Benton, who starred in Broadway’s “42nd Street” and “The Producers” film. “When I dance with him, I get flashbacks to when I was his age. It’s such a gratifying experience. And Henry’s a great little tapper – I have to work to keep up with him!”
The children meet on 4 Sunday evenings (a total of just 8 hours), rehearsing side-by-side with their Big Brother or Big Sister. The program is entirely volunteer-based and the professionals from the Broadway and NY dance community donate their time and talent to mentor and dance with a child or teenager.
Since the Program’s inception in 2001, 115 Broadway dancers have participated as Big Brothers and Sisters. Many Little Brothers and Sisters have already gone on to professional careers in dance, such as one of this year’s Big Sisters, Gabrielle Salvatto (Dance Theatre of Harlem, Juilliard grad and Little Sister alum 2001) and Lily Balogh (New York City Ballet and Little Sister alum 2004).
“I am so proud of my daughter, Amanda,” said her father, Luis. “Amanda has dreamt of becoming a dancer ever since we relocated to New York from Puerto Rico. Her confidence and joy have increased so much. The Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister program is an incredible opportunity for her, a step closer to her dream to dance on Broadway.”
We are thrilled to announce the 2012 cast of the Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program!
2012 Big Brothers and Sisters:
Collectively the above performers are currently appearing in or have appeared in the following Broadway shows and dance companies:
42ND STREET (Broadway Revival and 1st National Tour)
MARY POPPINS (Broadway and 1st National Tour)
A CHORUS LINE (Revival)
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1st National Tour)
BYE BYE BIRDIE
THE LITTLE MERMAID
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1st National Tour)
THE PRODUCERS (movie)
DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM
THE RADIO CITY ROCKETTES
The Little Brothers and Sisters range in age from 9 years old to 17 years old, and are enrolled in BDC’s Children/Teen Program:
MARIAH EUGIENIA FERRANTE
Lainie Munro’s Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program in New York City will perform in the “Choreographer’s Canvas” on Thursday May 10 at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center at 8:30pm; and also in the Broadway Dance Center Student Showcase Sunday May 13th at Symphony Space at 4:30pm and 8pm.
If you are interested in auditioning for the program, volunteering as a Big Brother or Sister, or booking this year’s cast for a performance, please contact Lainie Munro at: Lainie@LainieMunro.com
The Rockette Experience gives students an inside look into the world of The Radio City Rockettes.
The Experience starts with a 3-hour workshop taught by a Radio City Rockette where you will learn tap, jazz, and the world-famous Rockette kick line choreography. You will also get to go through a “mock audition,” and have a Q&A session and Photo Op with a Rockette. Then take the amazing Stage Door Tour of Radio City Music Hall and get tickets to see the Christmas Spectacular, “#1 holiday show in America” — live, on stage**!
“The Rockette Experience provides valuable insight into the meticulous and exacting precision technique. Dancers are afforded the opportunity to learn authentic choreography from a Rockette and get to hone their audition skills in a non-judgmental environment.” – Tal Schapira, BDC Professional Semester alumni and assistant for the Rockette Experience
“The Rockette Experience provides each aspiring student an exciting opportunity to dance for a day in the heels of a Radio City Rockette and brings them one step closer to actually achieving that dream.” – Lizz Picini, BDC Summer Intern Program alumni and assistant for the Rockette Experience
Requirements: Dancers must be ages 10 and up and have previous dance training in tap and jazz. All dancers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
2012 Spring/Summer dates for the Rockette Experience:
Saturday, April 7
Saturday, April 14
Saturday, May 19
Saturday, May 20
Saturday, May 26
Sunday, May 27
Saturday, June 2
Sunday, June 3
Saturday, June 9
Sunday, June 10
Saturday June 16
Sunday, June 17
Saturday, June 23
Saturday, June 30
Saturday, July 7
Saturday, July 14
Saturday, July 21
Saturday, July 28
Saturday, August 4
Sunday, August 5
Saturday, August 11
Sunday, August 12
For more information on The Rockette Experience, Broadway Dance Center, registration materials, please contact Megan Shuffle at (212) 582-9304 Ext. 79 or email your questions to Rockette@bwydance.com.
**Tickets to the Christmas Spectacular are only available during the show’s November/December season.
Cross training is just what is sounds like: crossing over to train in difference disciplines. Cross training is often attributed to athletes, but it’s just as important for dancers. “In dance, fatigue is a factor in 90% of injuries and overuse contributes to 65% of dance injuries. Fatigue and overuse injuries can become chronic problems that trouble the dancer daily. Cross training can help reduce risk of these types of injuries by balancing out the muscles of the body and providing relief to the muscles that are constantly worked.” – Leigh Heflin (MSc Dance Science).
Here are some popular aerobic and anaerobic exercises, but feel free to share how you cross train, too!
Aerobic – develop stamina
Running: Running is a great cardiovascular exercise that is cheap (all you need are some sneakers!). Running strengthens completely different muscles than those used in ballet (this can be good to an extent, but over-development of the quads and calves may cause stress on a dancer’s hamstrings). Since running on concrete can cause wear and tear on a dancer’s knees, especially if you run with turned-out feet, dance science specialists recommend cross-training on an elliptical machine to avoid stress on the joints.
Cycling/spinning: Cycling is also a popular cardiovascular exercise, especially because many gyms now provide personal televisions on the bike machines! In moderation, cycling can greatly increase a dancer’s endurance, but try to “seated” bike machines so that you can prevent curving your lumbar spine for a long period of time.
Swimming: Swimming is probably the #1 recommended form of cross-training for any athlete. Swimming is a zero-impact sport and is great for dancers recovering from injuries. The variety of swimming strokes strengthen muscles of the entire body, and requires the athlete to focus on his/her breathing pattern. The only issue? You’re going to need a pool, so find a friend with a pool or join your local gym.
Anaerobic – develop muscle strength and power
Weight-training: If you have access to gym machines or free weights, don’t be afraid to take advantage of them! If not, go for “isometric exercises” (ones that utilize your own body weight) such as push-ups, planks, lunges, and sit-ups. Weight training will not make you bulk up unless you’re deliberately trying to by drinking protein shakes and taking supplements. Low-resistence, high-repetition exercises will rev up your metabolism and tone up your muscles.
Yoga: No matter what area you’re looking to strengthen (balance, flexibility, lung capacity, stamina, strength, or stress relief), there is probably a form of yoga for you! In yoga, there is a special focus on the relationship between the body and the mind, which is sure to benefit you in your dance classes as well. Types of yoga.
Pilates: Pilates was specifically created to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility without building bulk. Pilates is often the “cross-training of choice” for dance companies and schools across the globe. While dancers often take mat classes which utilize one’s own body weight, Pilates also employs use of special machines such as the “reformer” and the “chair” to help strengthen long, lean muscles.
Gyrotonic: Gyrotonic is similar to Pilates in that it utilizes special equipment to develop one’s strength, flexibility, and breath. The main difference between the two forms is that Pilates is very “linear” while Gyrotonic is more “circular” (it was actually developed by a swimmer).
BDC welcomed Drew Jacoby to teach a series of Contemporary master classes in April. The tall beauty, hailed by Dance Magazine as a “dance goddess,” began her professional career as a principal dancer for Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. She won a 2005 Princess Grace Award and in 2006 was voted Dance Magazine’s “It Girl.” In 2007, she moved to New York City to begin her freelance career and market herself independently from a ballet company. In 2008, Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk co-founded their own company (Jacoby & Pronk) which has performed all over the world. In 2010, she founded a media website called DancePulp which features HD video interviews of the world’s top dance industry professionals.
“[Drew Jacoby] is contemporary ballet royalty and a dancer that I’ve always looked up to. She has such a unique style and effortless way of moving. She really cared about helping out the class and gave every person specific corrections.” – Emily Gallo-Lopez (BDC student)
“I was initially nervous to take an advanced contemporary class, but it was incredible. As a tall dancer, I often feel awkward with my head poking out atop the class’s or my limbs flying in every direction. But Drew Jacoby is even taller than me, and it was amazing to see how she ‘doesn’t apologize’ for taking up space when she dances. Her movement was so full and virtuosic – it felt great on my body and I am going to apply it to my other classes!” – Mary Callahan (BDC student)
“Drew Jacoby is one of those truly transcendent dancers — she scarcely seems real. At BDC we seek always to bring the finest in dance instruction for our students, and having Drew teach here was very much a coup in that endeavor.” – Bonnie Erickson (BDC Director of Educational Programming)
On Friday, April 20th, Broadway Dance Center hosted Industry Insider: Succeeding as a Professional Dancer. The Industry Insider offers a behind-the-scenes look at “the business.” From Broadway Shows, to Concert Dance, to Music Videos, to Film, this ongoing series covers a wide range of events and gives dancers the chance to delve deeper into the ever-expanding entertainment industry.
In conjunction with National Dance Week, Broadway Dance Center and Bloc Talent Agency have brought together a panel of experts, including Bloc NYC agents Jim Daly and Fatima Wilson as well as professional dancers Shernita Anderson (Kanye West, Jill Scott), Autavia Bailey (J. Lo, Lady Gaga, Beyonce), Tyrone Jackson (“Memphis,” “Smash”), and Alex Wong (ABT, SYTYCD, “Newsies”).
BDC students crammed into the 8th floor annex to ask questions about how to succeed as a professional dancer – not just in New York, but in LA and around the globe! Here’s what the esteemed panel had to say:
“I was primarily a musical theater dancer. When I wanted to branch out into the commercial side, I couldn’t decide between moving to New York or Los Angeles. My friend helped me out. He wrote ‘NY’ on one piece of paper and ‘LA’ on another. Then he turned off the lights and threw the papers in the air. I had to search for one in the dark…and it was LA!” – Tyrone Jackson
“Get your ‘look’ together. You have to look the part in order to get the part. You are a product – you have to market yourself.” – Autavia Bailey
“If you want to be a serious dancer, you have to take ballet.” – Alex Wong
“From my performing arts high school, I got the impression that I had to be a ballerina or I was nothing – but I’ve learned that’s anything but true.” – Shernita Anderson
“Go to ALL auditions, even if you’re not the ‘type’ they’re looking for. Casting directors will see you and call you for other jobs that you do fit.” – Tyrone Jackson
“Your word is important. When I made it through SYTYCD, I had already signed a year-long contract with Miami City Ballet. I honored that contract and auditioned for SYTYCD the following year. You have to realize that the dance world is so small, and your reputation is really important.” – Alex Wong
“Back then, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Debbie Allen did it all [dancing, singing, and acting]…so they did it all! The same goes for today. Invest in yourself [voice lessons, dance classes, acting workshops, etc.].” – Shernita Anderson
“Own who you are. I am an African-American male. I could go in for hip-hop calls, but I would be acting. I’m an all-American black male – that’s my true ‘type.’ So that’s how I market myself.” – Tyrone Jackson
“Look at Backstage Magazine, Playbill.com, and Actor’s Equity. Read the articles, watch the videos, learn as much as you can. Be a knowledgeable dancer and do your research.” – Jim Daly
“The dance industry is 90% business and 10% talent. Don’t just take class. Know the business. Educate yourself. Be marketable. Network. And girls, always have your heels!” – Fatima Wilson
How to I get an agent?
- Go to open agency calls.
- Through recommendations from that agency’s dancers and choreographers.
- If an agent is coming to support his/her agency’s dancer in a show, shoot the agent an e-mail so they’ll look out for you.
- Hustle! If you’re consistently booking jobs and networking, agents will keep hearing your name and approach you.