A Guide for Dancers to Find Opportunities in the Massachusetts Area
By Brittany Lombardi
January 20, 2014
After writing my first blog entry on finding your ideal dance program, I figured writing an entry on finding the perfect internship position would be an ideal follow-up. Little do most dancers know, they are capable of way more than just performing. Yes, performing is every dancer’s ultimate dream, but what if that does not turn out to be your calling? Do not fret! There are multiple ways of making it in the dance industry without stepping foot in the spotlight. After all, the careers that are not on the stage are the ones that make those on the stage successful- what a concept!
The first step to finding your ideal internship is making a list of your qualities as a dancer as well as transferable skills (for example, organizational, good work ethic, attentiveness to detail, computer literacy, bi-lingual) in addition to your interests such as teaching, stage managing, arts administration, choreography, etc.. Not only will these answers guide you in the right direction for an internship you will enjoy doing, they also have the potential to lead you to your first career path!
Did I mention a resume and cover letter? Sure, anyone can make one, on the other hand, when a company sees a clear resume that states past work experiences and skills in a single page, you are communicating that you are the ideal candidate for the position and most importantly, you are professional! Do not write or submit either of these documents without consulting with a dance professor or reliable website first. Be sure to not include every work experience you have had, only those that are relevant to the internship position to which you are applying for.
Besides interests and submission materials, while researching for an internship, it is crucial to find out the qualifications the organizations are looking for in terms of educational requirements, time commitments, pay/no pay, and expectations while on the job. The more background knowledge you have about a position and the company, the more prepared you will be! I have listed some references with internships to get you started and their websites. Good luck, And remember, a dancer’s performance in the workplace is just as valid as a dancer’s performance on stage!
Boston Center for the Arts http://www.bcaonline.org/aboutthebca/internships-and-volunteering.html
MA-jobs.html Dance Place http://www.danceplace.org/get-involved/internships/
November 28, 2013
Massachusetts, known as the “Spirit of America” and the first colony to become a settlement, is also the home to several dance companies, colleges, conservatories, and talent.
As a dance teacher in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, I felt it was important to begin this blogging process with exploring different options for young dancers who wish to make dance their career. Today, I want to help answer two common questions that cross a dancer’s mind: Should I get a dance degree or should I pursue a performing career right after graduation?
First and foremost, it is important that you are aware of what you are good at. Be honest; we all enjoy being on the stage, but there is only so much room on Broadway and in commercials. Instead, consider that there are not enough qualified teachers in charge generating efficient dancers or dance-educated writers to inform the general public about dance events.
To help you find out what your knacks are, I highly recommend reading and using the Dance of Self Discovery questions in Mande Dagenais’ book Starting Your Career as a Dancer. Although the questions are rhetorical, I found it extremely helpful to write them down in a journal so that I could go back and review my answers to use as a career guide.
After reviewing your answers, what did you find?
For dancers who enjoy choreographing and have the ability to apply corrections instantly, learn choreography quickly, as well as spend hours in rehearsals, consider looking into these Bachelors of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) programs at:
1. The Boston Conservatory
2. University of Massachusetts Amherst
Perhaps you see yourself owning a studio or dance convention, maybe teaching children with disabilities — the possibilities beyond performing are endless! Unlike B.F.A. programs, Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) provide dancers with the option to take on both a dance and other programs they wish to study to make themselves more marketable to future employers. When a dancer only has a B.F.A., it is considered a “disposable degree,” meaning if you become injured and can no longer dance, your B.F.A. degree is close to being useless. With a B.A., dancers have options other than performing.
There are several schools that offer B.A. programs in Massachusetts, and each have the option for dance majors to double major or take on a minor:
Of course, the choice other than going to college immediately after high school is to continue taking classes and workshops regularly, as well as going to auditions to prepare you for potential performance jobs.
Regardless of what you choose to do, remember, be true to yourself, and do not feel pressured to make an overnight decision. Being a dancer in the Massachusetts area is not by any means worth less than being one in New York or Los Angeles. In fact, this state has many opportunities for dancers.
All it takes is a little research and time to find your place on the ‘Spirit of America’s’ stage
November 27, 2013
Fall, a time of Halloween festivities, apple picking and most importantly, the start of many Massachusetts-based dance companies’ seasons. Within 15 minutes of web browsing, I found 15 various dance performances in the Boston area. The best part? Each of these performances offered terrific student discounts on tickets and included talk-back segments with the choreographers after each show.
Before I became a student at Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts, I had the impression Massachusetts had little to offer dancers because I never heard about events, workshops, or performances in the press, on social networks, or from past dance teachers. However, as my time at Dean passed, my knowledge of the Boston area and its numerous opportunities for dancers grew immensely.
Although Massachusetts is not nearly as big as New York or Los Angeles, there are plenty of smaller companies that travel throughout the East Coast and nationwide that are directed by established choreographers who have worked in/outside of Massachusetts. When I am looking for auditions in the Boston area, the first components I research about a company are its director/choreographer’s backgrounds, the genre of dance it focuses on, as well as any photos or videos of performances.
For example, I have a list of Boston-based companies I intend on seeing perform as well as auditioning for. Next week, I will be seeing BoSoma Dance Company, a contemporary, modern company directed by Irada Djelassi and Katherine Hooper, performs its 10th Anniversary show at Boston University’s Dance Theater. After seeing the show, I will have a better understanding of what I would be doing if I were to be accepted as a dancer for the company.
Despite the periods of research needed to find dance auditions, performances, and workshops in Massachusetts, these events are happening all of the time, with some of the best instructors and choreographers in the industry in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline, as well as at local colleges and studios.
Massachusetts may not have a Times Square or an Empire State Building, but it certainly has enough resources for dancers to thrive in before advancing to bigger cities or countries.