In our three-part series, How to navigate your European audition tour, Dance Informa speaks with three American artists who are living the dream – dancing professionally in Europe. But how did they get there? How did they hear about auditions or network to be seen by companies? Where did they stay while embarking on their own curated audition tour? How did they get their foot in the door abroad?
This edition, we hear from Shannon Maynor, who danced many years as a freelancer in NYC, and is now making a living dancing, teaching and creating in Berlin, Germany.
Shannon Maynor – @shannon_maynor
“I started my ballet training at four years old, and by age 10, I pretty much wanted to do it all the time. I moved to study at San Francisco Ballet School when I was 16. Getting to observe and dance with one of the best companies in the United States was a huge step and source of inspiration.
Freelancing in New York also gave me invaluable skills and exposed me to many different styles and ways of working. I love that in the NYC dance scene, you can juggle so many different projects –– anything is possible at any time. For me, though, I felt like I needed a bit of a slower pace, to really relish in the process. I reached a point in New York where I felt like I was on autopilot. I love performing, but I was interested in diving deeper into creating and being coached in the studio.
Moving to Berlin in 2019 totally rejuvenated me and my career, and even through COVID, I’ve felt fully supported as an artist. Here, there’s time and resources to cultivate my work. I am in my 30s and more in love with dance and making art than I’ve ever been. My biggest mistake was initially trying to squeeze myself into a box that didn’t fit, which caused me to get discouraged early on. To avoid that, try to be really clear about what you want (what styles, freelance vs. salaried company, what’s important to you as a dancer, etc.). While it’s important to be open-minded, try not to force yourself into situations that you know aren’t aligned with what you need as an artist and human being.
Aside from all of the online resources (danceeurope.net, dancingopportunities.com, etc.), I suggest checking the social media accounts of specific companies or choreographers you’re interested in. Also, don’t be shy, especially if you’re new to a city, to tell colleagues and teachers that you’re looking for opportunities. Even with the efficiency of the internet, I find that word of mouth is still the best way. When I decided that I wanted to move to Europe, I told basically everyone I spoke to and ended up with invaluable advice and contacts.
My biggest piece of advice is to not be shy! If you’re taking a company class, ask questions and maybe see if you can observe a rehearsal. Planning an audition tour can be expensive and complicated, but if you have time and there’s a city you’re interested in, try taking a class or workshop there. These are great ways to meet even more dancers who can offer guidance or resources.”
By Charly Santagado of Dance Informa.