Landing a dance agent can help skyrocket your career. Think of it as having your own personal posse cheering you on and fighting for you to succeed. You definitely don’t need an agent to have a successful career in show business, but it doesn’t hurt to have that extra support system in an industry that can often feel overwhelming.
An agent works to get you into every audition and casting you’re right for. And, when you’ve booked a job, they ensure that your contract is solid from the gig’s start to finish. Depending on your agency, agents typically take between a 10 and 20 percent cut from your pay check. When you succeed, so do they — it’s a win-win!
Whether you’re newer to the professional dance scene or a seasoned veteran, having an agent on your team can be extremely helpful. As a newbie, you’ll receive guidance and get your foot in the door more easily than if you’d have to wait several hours to be seen at an open call. And as a working dancer, your agent will utilize your hard-earned resume to get you in for even more jobs (like a swing or an immediate replacement in a Broadway show).
If you’re on the search for an agent, our biggest piece of advice is to find someone who gets you. In your meeting with a potential agent, talk about your goals and what kind of dancing you want to be doing. Of course, also ask about where they see you going with your career. But don’t ever feel like you have to compromise any of your aspirations or change your entire identity just to be successful.
So, what exactly does an agent do — specifically a dance agent?
- Submit dancers for jobs
- Access exclusive auditions that are not posted on open casting websites
- Negotiate contracts (i.e. higher pay, your own row on a tour bus, vacation days)
- Ensure proper working conditions that adhere to your contract and to the performers’ unions (i.e. proper dance shoes, days off, sprung floors)
- Provide guidance in marketing yourself (your “look”, website, reel, resume, headshots)
- Offer referrals (and often discounts) to voice teachers, headshot photographers and more
- Host networking events such as private workshops, sing ‘n’ reads and happy hours
- Encourage your growth as an artist
Sounds great, right? Well, here are a few ways on how you can land an agent for yourself:
- Submit your resume, headshot, dance reel and references via e-mail/online link.
- Attend an open call. (These are usually posted on casting sites and an agency’s own website.)
- Get referred by a colleague or choreographer who is already represented by a particular agency.
- Get scouted in a dance class at big studios like Broadway Dance Center and Millennium Dance Complex.
- Sign up for an agent workshop like those offered by The Growing Studio.
Ready to start searching for a dance agent? Here’s a short list of some of the bigger dance agencies in both Los Angeles and New York City. (There are many, many more. This is just a quick list to get you started on your research.)
McDonald/Selznick Associates: www.msaagency.com
Clear Talent Group: www.cleartalentgroup.com
By Mary Callahan of Dance Informa.