© Carol Lancelotti


By Geovana Peres

In an interview with Sophia Fernandes – former dancer, producer and international dance career manager at StageField Management, we talked about the importance of a good career management in dance, not only for careers already formed, but mainly for those in training. Our goal in bringing this theme here in the magazine, is to generate awareness, importance and responsibility for each reality of future careers or already current careers in dance.

Claudia Mota as Giselle for TMRJ © Carol Lancelotti – TMRJ Brazil

Does career management also exist in dance?

Of course it can. We are used to hearing more about this subject in other professions – when we talk about a career manager in music, for example, it is already implied that a singer has this support.  In dance it is still a little different, but career management when well designed and aligned in dance, can be a valuable ally for careers. Bringing up this possible direction in dance, is to generate not only awareness for future or existing professionals, but also and mainly for the professional market as a whole. Everybody wins!

It is a difference in management for beginning careers and management for careers already begun and even for those already at high levels. It is important to think about the idea of the “big picture” and to be aware of the process that exists up to that point. Dance stars reach the heights that we see from the outside, because one day they cared and knew how to work with the “mini successes”. It’s a matter of having aligned perspectives. If we talk about success perspective and what is actually success or the high tops, for each person there will be a truth, so it’s up to each professional to determine where they want to get to first, to know their reality, not forgetting to recognize the small victories and to know that this “top” can be plural and not necessarily only when they reach the “finish line”. Until the top, there can also be several other tops.

Another important issue is to take care of expectations. It is human nature to create expectations before the reality of the other, the so-called “over-comparison”. How can we deal with it?

It is always important to remember that each story is a story, and each one has its own reality. Have you ever stopped to think that during your dance career, how many people started with you and ended up giving up in the middle of the road or moving on to other professions and other paths? I, for example, as a dancer, have seen several people who started their studies with me, even graduated in dance, but today have become nutritionists, physical therapists, dance teachers, choreographers… The range of possibilities can be much more extensive, if we know how to look at ourselves and our reality, instead of living in expectation of the reality of others or of our society. The good management of a career even clarifies the idea of the post-career art and the possible transition to future professions. Precisely because the management of YOUR career will align your dreams with YOUR reality within your possibilities.

Maya Magri at a rehearsal in Royal Opera House © Carol Lancelotti – Royal Opera House

What would be the first step to good career management? How to start?

Nothing more obvious, but necessary to be said, that a dance career starts at the very beginning, when you decide to do dance in a more “serious” way. Most of the time the first career managers are the child’s or teenager’s own parents or guardians. With the best of intentions, parents use their parent/guardian instincts to make decisions, but best intentions don’t always mean the professional conduct that an expert in the field would have, for example. This is why I believe that a careful look is needed when identifying a talent in dance by his or her guardians, yes, but especially by his or her teachers or those responsible for guiding this dancer/artist. We should think about this issue of career management from an early age, as we think, for example, about nutritional education, in which the sooner you have access to certain information and awareness, it is much easier to organize, plan and put into practice.

What else can we add into this management path?

The vision beyond dance is also very important, to become aware of what is truly important to include in this career, which goes far beyond technique and physique. Knowing yourself as a person to develop as an artist is something extremely necessary, and that makes all the difference in careers. Today I manage some careers of great dancers in the dance world and if I can point out something standard among them, it would be: they all have this personal side very well developed, they are mature people and it shows in their professional attitudes. The “outliers” professionals have their values very well defined and trust in themselves. They have also always been willing to “invest” their time and energy in their craft. So it is no exaggeration to say that many of them were the first to enter the ballet room and were also the last to leave it. Furthermore, generating awareness of what to expect from a career in dance, having access to the necessary information, makes us develop careers prepared to face the dance market as it truly is and with all the bureaucracies that may arise along the way, as well as your rights as an artist.

Do you think self-knowledge is a key for the management process?

Self-knowledge in this initial process is so important, it makes you become a well-positioned professional, it makes you clear where you want to go so you can then learn what the necessary steps to be taken to get there, to know how to negotiate when faced with a job offer, to learn how to say no when something is not in accordance with your values… in short, to take control of your own life and career, because this way you will not be manipulated by the professional market and yes, you will know how to position yourself in the best way when necessary, as a valued professional. Another important point is market research, demand and supply of job openings, profile of dance companies and projects, research about the possibilities that we have in each segment of the profession. When you know yourself, you will know what will make sense for you and where your profile can match more, avoiding wasting time and enhancing your dance life in the right places for you.

Leticia Dias at Royal Opera House © Carol Lancelotti

Career management is also something very particular, after all, nowadays we have tastes and preferences for everything and in many different ways. There are artists who feel it makes sense to seek a professional direction, and there will be others who are self-taught and prefer the solo path. There is no right or wrong, there is what matches and can make sense for you and your dance. Career direction/management goes beyond a single possibility as a dancer, but can be applied in other segments of dance. What is our role here, is to make you aware that regardless of the path chosen, it is important to treat a dance career with professionalism, it is a profession like any other and can be taken care of in a much more valued way, if you position yourself responsibly in front of yours. This way we generate value for our profession as a whole.

When we talk about a career in dance, we also talk about jobs. How to price our work in dance?

This is a question you may be asking yourself… A very delicate subject, because what ends up happening is this confusion between price and value. So the first thing to do is to have this value parameter of yourself as an artist, based on all your trajectory, experiences, recognition, which are your immeasurable values. But we can’t forget that every artist is his own company and brand, which these values make you a well-positioned, recognized, valued artist. When we have this notion of difference, it becomes much simpler when faced with any job offer, you analyze the proposal making this parameter with your values as an artist and make better decisions. Remember that we cannot be afraid to put a price on our work. What was the time you dedicated to your training? The cost of the work material you use every day? What have you been investing in your dance? The investment time for this work in negotiation? all of this counts and counts a lot! Of course it will all vary beyond your values, the type of work proposal, the environment and people involved in that negotiation. Knowing that you are not negotiating the “artistic self” over the greatness of your dance and art helps you have a clear idea of how much your “work” is worth. You are only negotiating the financial price that will be received for a small portion of all your work for a particular event, for example.

Taking care of this backstage of the profession is something that needs to be normalized, because when the backstage flows, everything else is much simpler to be solved and directed. So this interview leaves you with a reflection: how is the direction of your career today?