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Answers 4 dancers.

TONY AWARD-WINNING CHOREOGRAPHER GROVER DALE IS EDITOR OF DANCE & FITNESS MAGAZINE. FOR THIS COLUMN, HE DRAWS ON HIS EXPERIENCES AND ASSOCIATIONS WITH 16 BROADWAY SHOWS, 8 FEATURE FILMS, AND OVER 100 TELEVISION SPECIALS.

MAKING A DEMO REEL FRIGHTENS ME

I've gone on my first two auditions this year. After I graduate from college, I'm looking forward to focusing on dance full-time. However, I've been told that agents like you to send a videotape of yourself dancing as a form of audition. How should I go about doing this? What should I include? Do I show all my tricks? What length should it be? And one other question: Are auditions that say Equity dancers on them limited to dancers in a union or something?. Thanks!

Starting to Live My Dream

Your question about the process of creating demo reels is a good one. Experience has taught me that most producers and agents are very busy people. Their viewing time is limited. The temptation to "fast-forward" or "eject" is always present as the pile of reels stands ominously before them, waiting to be evaluated. With that in mind, I submit that shorter may be better. To maximize your chances, reel length should not exceed four minutes.

Now, let's address video production. Those busy producers and agents are accustomed to viewing videos that are professionally shot, lit, edited, and staged. High-quality video is built into their daily working lives; it's as simple as that. Their eyes are used to it. Of course, any agent will assure you that they don't expect high-end production values on a young dancer's reel. I only mention it because there is a way to overcome those expectations. The content of those four minutes counts most. Show them that you've got what they're looking for. It's a known fact that well-rounded dancers are booked more often than specialized ones.

(They generate more commissions!) Show them how versatile you are. Assemble clips of yourself performing different dance styles in a variety of moods. Show your enthusiasm, your softness, and how much you really love to dance. Executing a trick or two can be effective, but don't overload the reel with too many flashy maneuvers.

A strong demo reel doesn't guarantee that you will be signed by the agent. Reels usually lead to invitations to attend an audition where a choreographer is brought in to put prospective clients through the paces. Watching how fast you pick up steps and your professionalism around other dancers is important to agents.

What's the scoop on union calls? When an audition says Equity dancers only, that doesn't mean a nonunion dancer doesn't have a chance. The non-Equity dancer just can't attend the Equity call. They may attend the open call. All Equity productions are required to hold at least one open call.

SHOULD I GO TO COLLEGE OR NOT?

I'm 16 years old and a serious dancer located in south Florida. I plan on relocating to L.A. for college and to jump-start my professional dance career. (I'm confident it will happen!)

I'm at a performing arts high school, but not for dance. I dance over fifteen hours a week out of school and work hard at it. At school I chose the communications department for film and print journalism. My main fear is, what if the dance world just doesn't work out for me? I don't want to only know about dance and performing. My question is, do I major in dance in college or something else? I don't know what to go for. Do choreographers and people in the biz smile upon dance majors?

Also, [choreographer] Barry Youngblood once told a group of dancers at a convention that the average age of people dancing on tours with artists is 24 to 28, which leaves plenty of time for college. Is that true?

Anne

Your idea about expanding career options is a smart one. It's good to be aware that your potential for a satisfying career is not reliant on dance alone. I'd like to remind you, however, that dance often leads those who love it toward multiple career paths. It worked that way for me. Dance played an important role in forming my attraction to producing, writing, directing, and journalism. It stretched me as a person and opened my mind to many new parts of myself. By sticking with what I loved, I found the path I was meant to be on. Was I always so assured about it? Absolutely not. During the early years, it wasn't always smooth sailing. Like you, I agonized: "Should I do this? Should I do that? What's to become of me?" Internal struggles are familiar territory to many of us. Rest assured that you're not alone.

You seem industrious. That's good. The search for what you want takes time. Anything you care about deeply deserves all the attention you can give it.

Do people in the biz smile upon college graduates? When I interviewed dance agent Laney Filuk (of the bloc agency), she mentioned that most of her dancer clients in New York have college degrees. She, for one, thought it was great.

Invest some time in reading the "College vs the Biz" page on answers4dancers.com. It will show you how other dancers cope with the pros and cons of going for the degree or going for the career.

The age range of dancers on tour with recording artists? While the range may vary, my impressions of Britney's and Janet's dancers is that most are younger than 24. There's no set rule about age, but a close look at MTV and HBO will show you that there's a definite accent on youth.

Contact Grover Dale at these sites:
www.dancemagazine.com
www.answers4dancers.com
www.auditions4dancers.com
COPYRIGHT 2002 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:career and education choices
Author:Dale, Grover
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Words:961
Previous Article:Protecting the child dancer. (On Education).
Next Article:New York.
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