Dancers Learn the Business of Art
Continuing our commitment to help all artists develop their careers by learning the business side of art, we teamed up last week with Brooklyn Academy of Music and DanceMotion USA to bring 10 dancers and choreographers from around the world an intensive suite of Creative Capital’s core career development courses. The weeklong intensive brought together 10 artists–5 from New York and 5 from countries like Thailand and Dominican Republic–to learn from each other, and begin exchanging ideas. We heard from a few of the artists throughout the week, as they discussed career advancement in a world that isn’t always friendly to dance or performing arts.
“In our seminar we were talking about being able to talk about yourself. Being passionate about your own work, and talking about it to different types of people. As dancers, we typically don’t know how to brag about ourselves. We let the dancing speak for us. When we’re not in that setting, we don’t know how to talk about our skills. And that’s hurtful for us.
“Writing cover letters and artist statements, it’s hard to talk about the skills that we have. These are skills that might seem something other than those valued in the real world, but they still translate into real world skills. For instance, picking up choreography quickly, learning how to change on a dime—when someone asks for something different, two seconds later dancers will adapt. That translates as quick thinking, decision-making, critical thinking, creativity, imagination. All of those skills are skills dancers have, but we just don’t know how to talk about ourselves in that way.
“Today we just did a role play of negotiations: asking for more money or asking for a raise. Everything is about practice and preparing. What do dancers know how to do better than everyone else? Practice and prepare! All you do is rehearse. So rehearsing how to speak publicly, talk about yourself, talk about your work… dancers can do that!”
“I’m from the Dominican Republic and I’m an independent dancer and choreographer. I am also a teacher for the Escuela Nacional de Danza in my country. I am very interested in helping professional dance in the Domincian Republic develop and help dancers actually live from their dance careers rather than finding other jobs. My goal is to help establish dance as a serious art form and profession so that aspiring dancers can actually live off their profession.”
“I’m an independent choreographer and I have a project-based dance company called Bennyroyce Dance here in Brooklyn… This whole week has made me feel empowered about who I am, and my work. The strategic tools that they’re giving us to succeed are incredible. Like Colleen Keegan said, ‘you need to go from good to great.’ To hear that from somebody is already pretty amazing for artists like us.
“It’s also great to get to know other artists, learning their culture, their identity and their artistic practice. Throughout the week the different dancers here have been teaching traditional Thai and Tunisian and other dance.”
“I’m the artistic director of NSquared Dance. We are a contemporary-based company here in New York City. I founded in 2014, and it’s been a really great experience for me artistically, financially… but office work is not really happening.
“So I was really happy when DanceMotion USA reached out to me to go these seminars and learn so much to grow even further. My dream for the company is to move out of New York City. There’s so much work here, and so little work in other places. I really want to cultivate more of a dance scene in places like Boston. I want to create a bridge between the Boston artists and New York artists. That’s what I’m looking forward to in the future.”
“After growing up and learning dance in Tunisia, I moved to France for 12 years where I followed dance professional trainings, workshops and meetings. Since 2010, I undertook my own choreographic research and created the Company MLdanse in Paris. I have always stayed involved in the dance scene in Tunisia. A few other artists and I have founded the association Hayyou’Raqs in 2013 in order to promote and encourage the importance of training for dancers which is totally absent in Tunisia.”