How To Make A Dance Reel For Your Professional Dance Career


How To Make A Dance Reel For Your Professional Dance Career

Jessie Ma
January 23, 2024
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If you're pursuing dance as your career, or if you want to audition for some dance gigs on the side, then knowing how to make a dance reel is essential. A dance reel is a dancer's visual resume. It can be used to supplement an audition, as an audition, or in any other situation where you need to showcase your skills and experience in a quick, easy way. Because your dance reel is so important, don't just throw together some clips on a phone app and call it a day. Learn how to make a professional, quality dance reel using this guide!

How to make a dance reel & visual resume

1. Collect dance clips for your dance reel

Dig up your old hard drive and find all your best work from the past (choreography, performances, concept videos) and organize them in a folder. From that footage, trim down each clip to only its best, most relevant section. Choose solos, or the ones where you are in the center, or very easily visible. Be picky with the quality of the clips too – it's probably best not to include the 240p video of your high school pep rally that was taken on someone's iPhone 3. And keep 'em short. Each clip should be under 10 seconds.

As you sort through your dance clips, plan out how you want this footage to be organized in your visual resume. You want to start out with your strongest clips; it's easy to lose people's attention within seconds. If you are making a dance reel for a specific audition, include the things that they are looking for (i.e. technical skills, tricks, etc.)

2. Shoot extra footage for your dance reel

You want to showcase your best work – but maybe the last HD video you have of yourself is from 2 years ago, and you've grown a lot since then as a dancer. If you want more updated, better footage, then record a new piece or freestyle (solos are good) with a high quality camera in a nice location. Taking this extra step to update your portfolio can be great for your dance reel, and also generally helpful for you as a dancer.

How to make a dance reel for an audition

Again, if you are making this dance reel for a specific audition, fulfill those exact requirements. Research what the directors' preference are, and appeal to them.For example, a casting director for commercial might look for quicker clips to upbeat music, but someone hiring a choreographer for a 2-hour musical might prefer to see longer clips with more cinematic qualities.

Include impressive / relevant captions to give context

If you’ve danced for Beyonce or choreographed for Broadway, then freaking say that!Find a place on the clip where it won't distract from the dancing (lower center or corner of frames are usually safe bets) and include the key words. Like, Jessie – "Name of Song" – "STEEZY Modern Music Video"

Showcase your personality in your dance reel

Casting directors might looking for dancers, but really, they're really looking for people they can work with. A talented dancer with bad work ethic and a stuck-up attitude is an easy pass next to another talented dancer who is confident, energetic, friendly, and versatile. With that said, let your personality shine through in your clips. Showcase your quirky movements. Include that one concept video where you hella committed to your character as a brain-eating zombie. Throw in that clip of you from that battle where you got the crowd super hype by ripping your shirt. Okay, maybe you don't have something that intense, but –include the things that make you you as a dancer.

3. Hire an editor or learn how to edit

Editing a dance reel is much different from editing any other kind of video. You have to have fluency in video editing software, as well as a sense for dance. If you don't feel confident editing a visual resume yourself, then work closely with a video editor who is/was a dancer, or has some background in the industry. You can ask for drafts and send back notes to the editor, but physically sitting down together and making those small edits is more efficient. And if you work on it yourself, ask a professional editor to take a look at it. They can cue you in on subtle things that you didn't know (such as coloring or aspect ratios to make the frames blend in to each other.)

4. Get the right music for your dance reel

Don't use copyrighted music.Instead, use royalty free music. You only need one or two good songs for your entire dance reel. Using less songs is less distracting for the viewer. It helps them focus on your dancing and enjoy the experience rather than being overstimulated by sounds. So choose something versatile that will mesh well with all of your dance clips. A song that you like will probably reflect you/your style, anyway. Oh, and make sure it doesn't have a [bleep]ed out curse word every 3 seconds. After a rough edit, watch your whole reel with the music and make sure it looks and feels cohesive.

5. Include your contact info in your dance reel

This seems so obvious, but there are so many dancers that forget this. Include a slate at the end of your reel with your basic contact info: name, email, social media handles, and website.

6. Upload your dance reel

YouTube and Vimeo are popular sites for reels. Vimeo has more of a professional feel, and it's less distracting – there are no advertisements before the video starts! After uploading, write and proofread all your copy (title, descriptions, end cards, etc.) The rule of thumb for good copy is to keep it short, to the point, and conversational. After all this work, your reel is ready for the world to see! Link it out, embed it into your website, post clips on Instagram – however you want to showcase your work. For all you aspiring professional dancers, we hope that this was helpful in putting your reel-y awesome skills into a reel! Go get #bookedandblessed!