English Article –
More than ever before casting shows are popping up all over television promising thousands the chance to make it into the spotlight. If you are a young dancer, ready to take that next big step then read further to discover what the casting shows don’t put on television. Here is everything you need to know about castings and most importantly how to be successful at them. I will give you insider tips from someone who has been going to castings for over 10 years.
When you think of your dream job, do you see yourself dancing next to Justin Timberlake or maybe filming a music video with Beyonce? Are you someone who has been taking dance classes for a while and you feel ready to get some jobs? If you answered yes then it is probably time for you to go to a casting. Your first option may be to try out for one of the popular TV casting shows. Keep in mind, that even if you are very talented, the chances that you make it “big” are slim to none. The majority of casting shows are for entertainment purposes only. Sure, some have managed to make careers for themselves but they are usually short lived. You can, however, still be a successful professional dancer without going to these casting shows. To get started, you need to have a clear idea of what exactly a casting is and where you can find them.
A casting or an audition is an event held in order to find talent to fit a specific project. In the case of dancers this usually means projects such as stage shows, musicals, live tours and music videos. Dancers can also be used for commercials and in some cases print ads. What ever the casting is for they usually run in the same format. Typically, in a dance casting the choreographer is present as well as other influential people acting as the jury. This may include the director and in some cases the artist. Normally part of the choreography is learned, a very short time is given to review and then cuts start being made, meaning dancers are eliminated. To make things easier on the jury dancers may be given a number to wear as well. Depending on the size of the casting call backs may be held the next day and cuts could be made again until the number of dancers are selected that the jury would like to have. Sometimes when the casting is very large cuts are made based on looks first before beginning with the choreography.
So now you know what castings are but how do you find them? If you are talented and lucky enough, then your first step will be to find an agency willing to represent you. As a dancer your agent will be like one of your best friends. They will know everything about you and help you in anyway they can. After all your agent only gets paid when you do. Keep in mind, if the casting agency is legit, you should never have to pay anything upfront. Usually agencies make a profit of 10 – 20% for every job you book through the agency. Make sure you find out everything you can about a potential agency before approaching them. Many agencies specialize in different areas of entertainment and have specific requirements for new submissions. There are normally 2 ways to get signed by an agent. The first and probably best way is to attend a casting call or audition class held by the agency. These are specially set up for agents to find new talent. The second way is to submit a photo and resume to the casting agency. It is important in this case that you have a really good photo and resume as well. Chances are your information will be added to a large pile of many other hopeful individuals. A quick phone call or look to an agency’s website can provide you with the information you need on submissions.
Even you don’t have an agent you can still be successful in attending castings. Just like any business person representing themselves, the first thing you will need is a business card and an identity. For the dancer that means photos and a resume or a sed card. Your printed materials are the first impression that the hiring people will have from you so you want to make sure that they look professional and are always up to date. Getting your sed card and or photos produced can be quite expensive at times and you are responsible for getting them done even if you have an agent. If you are serious about turning your dancing into a career then this is one investment that you will definitely want to make. Finding castings without the help of an agent can be stressful at times but it can be done. Use all of the resources you have available. Start with dance publications and the internet. There are several dance related websites that list castings. The trick is to know your talents and to know which castings are best for you. Always find out exactly what the casting is for and what they are looking for in a dancer. The worst thing for a dancer is to show up to a casting only to be turned away. Many castings require that you register beforehand. After looking at your photo and resume, they will decide if they want to invite you to the casting or not. These types of castings are called closed castings, and are usually booked through agents. The other type of casting is called an open casting. This requires no previous registration and people can just show up. Depending on what the casting is for 50 dancers could show up or maybe 500. It is just a chance you have to take.
Finding castings are only the beginning. Being successful at a casting and getting booked is where you want to be. Here are some tips to get you started. First of all never go to a casting unprepared. Always carry extra sed cards, photos and resumes with you. Always look the part from your hair and make up down to your shoes. You always want to show up to a casting looking “camera ready,” meaning looking and feeling your best. If the casting is for a hip hop video and you show up in ballet slippers, they probably will not give you a second thought. Always take extra clothing and accessories with you. Once you arrive to the casting you can get a feel for what the choreographer is looking for and you always want to give yourself plenty of options to change. Forget about being on time. Always show up early. Remember the other dancers there want the job just as much as you do. The earlier you arrive, the earlier you can sign in and register, hopefully making it easier for the jury to see you. Try your best to never stand in the back. The jury can not select you if they can not see you. Confidence is everything. Going to castings may be intimidating at first but try to focus all of those nerves into your dancing and always maintain eye contact with the jury. Last but not least smile and have fun, after all you are doing what you love.
Now let’s say your dream has finally come true. You went to the casting and you got the job! What do you do now? If you have an agent, things are simple. Your agent should take care of all the details for you including pay, rehearsal times and locations. If you do not have an agent then make sure you fully inform yourself of all the details before you sign anything. If you are unsure about something then have someone you trust look over your contract first. Then once you commit to doing a project make sure you are available and always on time. Believe it or not the dance world is small and you always want to leave a good impression. If a choreographer likes you then chances are they will use you again. It is the perfect way to secure more jobs in the future.
With all of the casting shows on TV these days, one thing is certain. They are a great way to be seen by millions of people. The thought of having one shot to show the world your talent may seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity. While success may happen this way for a select few, in reality a dancer’s life is very different. TV is after all TV. If dance is truly your passion and you pursue it actively then you will find hundreds of great opportunities for yourself out there. Just remember the most successful dancers are the ones who show up and are prepared. Always try your best and don’t be too disappointed if you don’t make it the first time around. Use every opportunity as a learning lesson to make yourself that much stronger for your next big casting.
By Kimberly Anne Cole
This Article was published in Dance for You Magazine May issue 2015
Kimberly Anne Cole is a choreographer and dancer from Los Angeles, California. She has trained and taught classes in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Modern and Hip Hop for over 16 years. In addition to appearing in several music videos, commercials and stage productions, Kimberly’s professional experience includes dancing for the Los Angeles Clippers, a team in the NBA as well as choreographing for and directing the Frankfurt Galaxy dancers a team in NFL Europa.
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