How can working with a dance agency be helpful for you? And how do you get into a dance agency?
As flashy and glamorous as the life of a professional dancer may look, dance work is still work – hard work.
Years of training and long hours aside, a big part of being a professional dancer is finding this work itself.
Dance agencies exist to guide dancers through their professional careers. Yet many dancers still find the process of getting into a dance agency somewhat of a mystery.
Especially those who come from a collegiate / community background with not much experience in the industry.
We chatted with our “signed” dancers Denzel and Bianca, along with Bloc Talent Agency assistant Havi, to break it all down.
Dance and talent agencies are companies that help artists (actors, dancers, models, etc.) find professional work.
They connect dancers with jobs like commercials, music videos, tours, roles for TV shows and movies, and more.
While it is possible to find dance jobs without being represented by an agency – if you have the right connections – dance agencies help you find the best-fitting opportunities.
You’ll also get to know other dancers in your agency that have similar aspirations, and talk to agents with years of dance work experience.
You might feel intimidated going to auditions without any friends or jump into this career without a support system.
You can get that “community” or “family” feeling through a dance agency. Not to mention, being signed with a dance agency adds a little umph to your dance resume.
Would you rather get open-heart surgery from “Jessie Ma” or “Jessie Ma, M.D.”?
If you know a dancer in your area who is signed with an agency, then ask them about their experience and suggestions.
Word of mouth and personal accounts are very important!
My friends were getting signed by different agencies and let me know when theirs were having auditions.
– Bianca Vallar
And look up those dance agencies online – you will find a section on their website where you can submit for representation, or find out the up coming audition dates.
If not, you can click on their “Contact” section and email the agency to ask when and how to audition.
A few major agencies in Los Angeles are Bloc, MSA, Clear Talent Group, Go2Talent.
Finding the one right for you is a process.
At first, I didn’t have a specific agency I was more focused on. I just wanted to see what the audition process was like and if I could even keep up. But when I started to get a bit more knowledge on the specific agencies and what they had to offer I realized I really wanted to be part of Bloc.
– Bianca Vallar
To get signed with a dance agency, you need to audition, have an interview, or submit your dance resume and reel – or do some combination of those.
The process varies depending on the dance agency.
Some auditions are split up by style –
For Clear, there was a freestyle part (which was optional, mainly for the bboys, poppers, krumpers, etc.) There was also a Jazz/Contemporary call and a Hip Hop round. You can choose to go to just 1 or all 3; but the more styles you show them the more they know they can utilize you.
Bloc hosts an open audition once every year, with a hip hop portion and a technical portion. We also have a submissions tab on our website. Sometimes agents find dancers at events they attend.
Bianca took each audition as a learning experience:
I went into my first one and completely failed. After auditioning for a few dance roles at Disney I was used to auditioning, but auditions in LA are way different. I felt like I was wearing the wrong outfit and my headshot was too amateur. Even though I was comfortable with the combo, the LA energy was so different from what I was used to.Through that first audition, I realized how much I needed to prepare to have a successful audition so I wouldn’t feel so lost. I took a lot more classes in North Hollywood to better acquaint myself with the “industry” style, met with friends who were already signed and picked their brain on everything I could learn about the industry and agencies, got new headshots that looked more professional, and even met with a good friend who gave me style tips so I knew what to wear. The prep and new knowledge allowed me to be more comfortable with each audition.There are so many dancers who audition for Bloc, which makes it even more difficult to stand out. Bloc mentioned on their audition flyer that it was gonna be a heels audition for girls. So I knew that the audition was going to be a bit more body conscious and I’d have to focus on my “look." I made sure I felt really confident in my outfit, did my makeup and hair like I was about to do a performance, and took a lot of heels classes to practice.If you prep well beforehand you'll feel confident going into the audition. Then all you have to do is let your dancing speak for itself.
Considering how much work it takes to get into a dance agency, there must be a lot of benefits to being represented.
Once signed, they'll notify you of auditions for jobs (some of them exclusive to your agency) or offer specific work if a casting director or choreographer finds you through the agency, based on your photos, resume, and reel.
Some choreographers trust a specific agency with their work or book you directly through your agency because they're known for having reliable dancers. And your agents take care of a lot of the logistical parts of dance work – like getting you your check or submitting you for gigs.
They're also very helpful when handling contracts and legal paperwork, making sure you get paid correctly, and your ensuring that your basic rights as a dancer are met. Unfortunately, sometimes people don't view dancers in the industry highly. So a lot of companies will try to rip us off because they don’t understand the work that it takes to be a professional dancer – resulting in horrible working conditions and underpaid dancers. Agents make sure that doesn’t happen and that we're treated fairly.
The frequency of auditions can vary, but you’ll have access to many more opportunities through a dance agency than if you were not signed.
Denzel used to be invited to 2-3 auditions a week, and go to all the ones he was interested in. Other times, he says, he’ll only get an offer every other week.
Auditions vary week to week. Some months I'll be very busy and go to around 4-6 auditions a week. And some months are slow and I may only get one audition every two weeks. Those are bad months, haha. Your lifestyle will be very unpredictable – it is not a career for people who value stability.
Find out everything you can about all the different agencies, the kind of jobs you want to book, and which choreographers are working on those jobs. And take class from all working choreographers, their assistants, or other dancers that constantly work in this industry so you can train and make those connections.
Your audition for the agency will reflect how seriously you’ll take auditions for gigs. Dress comfortably in something that reflects your style. You’ll be in a sea of other dancers; you want your dancing and your look to make a statement. I look young so I get sent on young roles – so I go with the young youthful hip look. Finding your look is a huge thing!
Don’t hide in the back during the audition – no matter how much you’re killin’ it, it’ll be hard for anyone to see you!And FREESTYLE! This is your chance to showcase your unique skills and style.Practice freestyling because you’ll have to freestyle in most every audition – sometimes before the combo or after, or both.
You never know what’ll be asked of you in an agency call, so take classes in all styles – especially those outside of your comfort zone.
The more you learn, the more versatile you will be, and the less you’ll be phased by whatever an audition throws at you.
LA dancers! Take classes at these Top Dance Studios In Los Angeles You Need To Be Training At
A lot of "no"s will come before getting a "yes." And once the "yes" does come, that doesn't mean you'll book every job you audition for.
You won't always get the job you audition for. It may take you years. You'll constantly be faced with people criticizing the way you dance, the way you look, and they will make you feel inferior. Learn to be okay with rejection and allow the negativity to roll off your shoulders so you can continue to move forward. Don't go into this career if you cannot take rejection and criticism well.
It can be very rewarding to know you get to make money off of the thing you love the most. Although, dancers do not typically get paid that much. Also dancers can sometimes get so caught up in trying to book the job in order to get the money (because most of us are starving artists and super broke) that they lose the fun and love for dance because they're too focused on trying to get paid. You don’t know when you are going to book another job or when the next paycheck is going to come.
But the agency can’t do everything for you. As Lindholm, co-owner of Go 2 Talent Agency says in this article by Dance Spirit,
I firmly believe it’s 50/50 teamwork. It’s our job to get you in front of people while making sure you’re protected and paid on time. It’s your job to work hard, meet as many people as you can and build a reputation for being professional.
Bianca agrees –
Having an agent is a business relationship. As much as they help you, you have to help them as well. You only get what you put into it. If you want to do lots of dance jobs, then that means doing as much as you can to be the top bookable dancer. So when your agent gives you an audition, you're fully ready and can make people want to hire you.
Dig deep down, and ask yourself – Are willing to completely dedicate yourself to your dance career? Are you willing to make this your full time job? Like a job, will you dedicate 8 hours a day to your craft?Being represented by an agent and pursuing a full time dance career in the industry isn't easy and results don’t come right away.You have to be patient, work hard, and accept that things take time.But if this is what you are meant to do, then keep doing it.
It's rewarding, yet extremely difficult to pursue dance as a professional career. It’s a good thing dancers have agencies to help!
We hope this helped give you more insight on how to get into and work with a dance agency!
Comment below with any questions you still have, or share your experience of working with a dance agency!
Denzel started dancing when he was just 5 years old, learning dance moves off of music videos on MTV. He started dancing on his church’s Hip Hop praise team in elementary school, where he fell in love with performing. Denzel was signed for acting when he was 6, but didn’t go to a dance agency audition until he was 18! He is represented by Clear Talent Group and has alongside several major artists.
Havi transitioned from competitive gymnastics to dance when she was 11. She trained in jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, and ballet and pointe, continuing her studio training, as she attended dance conventions and danced on her high school dance team. When she entered college, she realize she actually did not want to be a dance major, but danced on Common Ground for 4 years.
Bianca learned cultural dances (Polynesian, Filipino, Bollywood) at a young age, later joining Breakthrough, her first junior team at Studio 429. She took classes, taught, and directed at the studio as she she became one of the original members of Choreo Cookies, where she danced on the team for over 9 years. Bianca moved to LA to pursue dance, and got a job at Disneyland and later joined Bloc Talent Agency and has been dancing professionally, full-time, since.