What do you want to be when you grow up?? A guide for the budding professional dancer.
Tuesday 18th January 2022
If dancing has become more than a hobby or a passion for you and you are thinking about carrying on professionally then read on!
Becoming a professional dancer takes dedication and hard work. It won't always be easy, but the journey will be exciting, fulfilling and worthwhile.
There are so many avenues you can go down. The variety of vocational colleges and courses has increased incredibly over the years and all the information out there can become overwhelming.
So, we have a few pointers for you right here to get you started!
Vocational dance colleges take pupils from the age of 16 years old, though we do advise you to stay at school and get your A-Levels so you have more education behind you, before heading to your chosen vocational college.
There are a lot of courses you can look to take. The main ones are Performance/Dance and Musical Theatre (dancing, singing and acting) and most colleges now offer Degree courses alongside diplomas. However, there will be extra qualifications you can complete alongside these; like your teaching qualifications. These of courses are not compulsory and are usually at an additional cost but are highly recommended!
It is advisable to get your ISTD teaching qualifications whilst at college to add to your CV and enhance the options of work you have available to you when you graduate, so definitely look in to this and get all the information you can.
There are a broad range of dance genres taught in these courses. The more you learn the more opportunities and avenues will be available to you. Even if the genre is not something you see yourself using in the future, it's all good knowledge to have - (and you may end up enjoying it more than you first think!)
For every vocational dance college, you will need to audition as part of your application. In almost all cases, you will be asked to take part in a Ballet class. You will usually take 2-4 classes on audition day, alongside other applicants, and may also be asked to perform a solo piece in your chosen style, for example Jazz, Commercial, Contemporary etc. For Musical Theatre courses you may also be asked for a vocal audition, as well as a monologue.
The most important thing to remember about these auditions is that you do not have to be perfect! The teachers/principal are looking for students who they can work with and train hard, who have the potential to become professional dancers. They are not looking for the finished product! (So don't put too much pressure on yourself!)
Should the first audition go well, you could then be called back for a second audition. These are likely to be more in depth and more specific.
At some point during either stages of the audition, you will likely speak with the principal, deputy or high ranking teacher, in a short interview to get to know a bit about you and your goals for the future.
The best advice we can give you for these auditions....MAKE SURE YOU ARE WELL EQUIPPED!
Make sure you take all your dance shoes with you for different dance styles. Ballet shoes, Tap shoes, a mix of dancewear, spare tights! If they want someone to show them a Tap performance, then you will be able to show this straight away with no fuss. Make it easy for you to showcase yourself!
This also means taking all your dance clothes with you as well. Leotard, tights etc. Grooming is mega important!! They want to know you are serious about your art and your passion for dance! Make sure your hair, face and clothes are all immaculate, and make-up should be natural! Hair up in a neat bun, clean clothes, no ladders in your ballet tights!! Ahh!
Other things to remember are of course to be on time! Be early, give yourself time to get ready and focus. And don't forget etiquette and manners!
Most courses are 3 years, although some offer extra study after this. There are sometimes the option to do a foundation course for 1-2 years which can give you the groundwork to go down different routes if you didn't want to complete the full 3 years.
There is funding available depending on your household income. You would need to apply for funding through the college to see if you would be eligible.
A lot of colleges also offer scholarships to some students. This could be on a full scholarship, half or quarter. You would need to audition for these, and it can be very competitive. We would always suggest talking to your dance teacher and the college to see if it is worth trying out for this.
We have some incredible dance colleges around us and around the country. Some of the main ones are:
- Arts Ed
- Trinity Laban
- Masters Performing Arts
- Italia Conti
- Wilkes Academy
- Laine Theatre Arts
- Bird College
- London Studio Centre
If you get the opportunity to go to MOVE IT then this can really help you make a selection to audition!
For some of you, the right college could be in a different part of the country, which would of course mean living at the college in student accommodation. There is funding available for accommodation and information available to see if you would be eligible.
It is important to make sure you pick the right college for you! Make sure you do your research as you will be there for 3 important years of your life! Most colleges have open days; these are great as you will see where you will eat, sleep, dance, study and socialise for those years, and be able to get a feel of what your days would feel like.
Make sure you research the college itself and the courses available there. Also look at the qualification you will gain at the end of the course. Will it open up the right avenues for you? What jobs do you want after completing this course?
Make sure you take the time to look at the faculty of that college and the course you are taking. In dance, 'who you know' can be very important! The teachers will have been in the industry for years and can guide you in the right direction and towards the right people. They can get you to the right place in life and be great role models. Guest teachers are also fantastic to learn from, as they are often in the centre of the industry right now and it is continuously evolving.
The last thing to mention is to look at the area the college is in. You will be spending a lot of time there. Research the city. Make sure you have enough you can do outside of your studies and pick a place you will feel safe.
Above all, make sure you will be happy there. Your happiness is the most important thing.
If you have any questions on furthering a career in dance, we at MSAOD are always here to guide and support our students in anything they need.
We can't wait to see your names up in lights so be sure to invite us to your opening night!!