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Networking dos and dont’s for dancers

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Networking – it encompasses many points of building professional and personal communities. Most regard it as a vital ingredient for building a secure, fulfilling profession. Dance is knowledgeable area identical to finance, healthcare or schooling, yet stands aside from such fields in several methods: course of and presentation most frequently revolve around efficiency, and those who create have particular aesthetic and artistic visions guiding what they create. Networking inside dance however has some similarities to networking in these different fields, if additionally variations.

It may be time-consuming and require concerted effort – which may really feel like rather a lot for dancers whose assets are sometimes already stretched quite skinny. But the fruits of the required time and effort could be greater than value it — even indispensable. Finally, all of it comes down to creating connections. Let’s take a look at some “dos” and “dont’s” for networking in the dance area, from a number of totally different perspectives in dance and the humanities extra broadly.

#1. DO show genuine curiosity in a choreographer’s work by attending considered one of their performances, or at the very least viewing videos of it. Even better, go to certainly one of their courses, if potential. In any skilled dance relationship, presence makes a difference.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. Photograph by Jeff Watts.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess, founding director of Dana Tai Quickly Burgess Dance Firm (Washington, D.C.), emphasizes this additional little bit of effort as something that will get his attention when dancers enthusiastic about working together with his company contact him. If he reads that they’ve seen his work (either on video or in individual), why it’s compelling to them — along with video of them dancing, resume and an inquiry if it is perhaps potential to return take company class — he’s much more more likely to interact. These issues show him clarity of intention, conviction and a window into who they’re as a dancer and as an individual, he shares.

Leah Thiffault, managing director of Green Road Studios (Cambridge, MA), furthers this point to advocate displaying up at courses of choreographers you admire. “Presence is important,” she says. “The most effective way to network is to show up. A choreographer you admire? Go to their class consistently and work hard without expectation.”

“Dance is a field built on mentorship based in live networking,” Burgess attests, underscoring the importance of displaying your face in actual time. He describes that in this approach, it most often has to transcend just sending in a resume — athough that may be a superb first step, especially for those just starting out within the subject. After that, “take class, not only to be present but also to know if a certain company or choreographer is right for you,” Burgess advises.

In an analogous method, Thiffault shares that her group, Inexperienced Road Studios, will much more doubtless supply area for you to supply a present of their black box theater when you have a notable presence there — comparable to by way of rehearsing and attending events in the area. “Genuine relationships will form naturally when you just show up,” Thiffault affirms. She adds that communication may also be a key part of this genuineness. Clarify how and why you care, and you’ll stand out. “It’s refreshing to spend time with those who have palpable passion and curiosity.”

All the above appears to align with how “there’s still something organic within the field,” in accordance with Burgess. All those inside it will probably hold that natural quality alive by way of presence and general genuineness.

#2. DON’T just reach out to choreographers or administrators wanting to talk with them, or audition for them, without displaying that you simply’ve invested time in getting to know what their work and imaginative and prescient is like, or have one thing tangible to offer.

Burgess is just not as inclined to interact when he receives emails from young dancers that feel like “match fishing”, as he describes it — without that key demonstration of genuine interest and time invested in attending to know his work. He also describes seeing some resumes of dancers a yr or so out of faculty, however claiming to be a soloist at such-and-such company. To him, this illustrates a “disconnect in your background and a lack of knowing where you are in the field.” Sticking to that genuineness each he and Thiffault describe can avoid displaying that disconnect and ignorance.

Leah Thiffault.

Leah Thiffault.

Thiffault shares how Green Road Studios critiques “every cold email proposal that we receive.” While the group seeks to help all artists who exhibit curiosity in partnering, they’ll “nearly always decline to pursue generic emails that fail to demonstrate a thoughtful, specific reason to partner with a particular artist or organization,” she says. She asserts that networking includes asking another person to make an funding — of time, power or another useful resource — in you. Profitable networking inherently additionally includes you returning that funding not directly, so that it’s a relationship of mutual help.

#3. DO speak to anybody and everybody. You never know what kind of mutual help might develop.

Heidi Russell, NYC-based curator of the Worldwide Ladies Artists’ Salon, recommends chatting with anyone and everybody, because you possibly can by no means know what kind of mutually useful relationship can develop. “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” she advises. She describes a few efficient ways to “break the ice”, so to speak, in case you really feel a bit nervous and awkward about starting up conversations with strangers or acquaintances. One is asking a common query, reminiscent of “How’s your day going?”, or a friendly statement or compliment resembling “I love your outfit!”. One other is being extra direct based on what you’ve occurring professionally, in an asking for their help – for occasion, “I have (x event) coming up next week. I hope that you can make it!”

In case you don’t have anything specific arising, speak about what you do, Russell says. “Think of it as informing them, and give yourself permission to do that.” Don’t worry about being “humble” or “imposing on anyone.” She also advises making eye contact; be open, trustworthy and absolutely human! “If you push yourself to [make these connections], the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You’ll think, ‘That wasn’t so bad!’” It’s all in service of creating connections to reinforce art and creativity on this world – one thing “this world is starving for,” Russell believes.

She additionally believes that we will appease this starvation step-by-step, slightly than needing to take action unexpectedly – with numerous connections to these in numerous art types, social causes, institutions reminiscent of faculties and more.

Thiffault recommends being proactive in your network, moderately than making connections right whenever you want them. “Identify those who are doing work you admire, and build a relationship based on shared interest. And don’t wait until you need a specific job or recommendation to make those connections and friendships,” she advises.

A practical tip for making these connections fruitful are carrying business playing cards with you, including links to your social media accounts and/or web site (which might additionally clearly link to your social media accounts). Many trendy professionals embrace their resume on their website, an advantage of this “tech-driven age” being that we don’t have to hold round paper copies of resumes once we can easily display and find them online. Even when nothing vital professionally happens with such spontaneous connections, you might have just gained a new pal. Indeed, “every networking opportunity is an opportunity to grow your friend group,” says Burgess.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. Photo by Jeff Watts.

Dana Tai Quickly Burgess Dance Company. Photograph by Jeff Watts.

Typically clear distinctions between the private and professional are needed, and even essential. Reasoned intuition, in addition to open communication, can information us in making these distinctions the place crucial. In the event you’re nervous doing this, Russell recommends working with someone extra snug with networking, for sensible and ethical help – in addition to learning by way of remark and osmosis.

#4. DON’T speak too much about your work, mission or philosophy of your subject with out demonstrating curiosity in the identical of that individual’s — corresponding to via asking real questions and offering your help the place applicable.

This guideline could be a approach to avoid feeling self-centered or egotistical whereas networking, if that could be a priority. It also just makes networking really feel more organic, and usually be simpler. Russell suggests asking, “What’s your passion?” relatively than “What do you do?” If they will’t acknowledge or outline their passion, you possibly can assist them achieve this by means of conversation, she recommends. “You see their eyes light up when you open up space for them to talk about what they love.”

Thiffault advises, “Bring something to the table, especially if asking for something specific [while networking].” That something might be time and undivided consideration to their — relatively than your — work and ardour, for a time.

Russell underlines the reality that no one might be good at every little thing, however collectively we will achieve great things if we “join our skills.” A method to try this is thru networking – with authenticity, caring and satisfaction for what you’ll be able to supply. Here’s to persevering with to make more and extra meaningful connections as time passes and we all grow in our work and ardour, aspect by aspect and collectively.

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.