Joining the greats
So you want to be a famous dancer. The first thing you should know is that there are many thousands of others out there right now who have the same dream.
That’s not necessarily bad news, but if you want to join the greats as a skilled dancer, then it’s going to take years and years of hard work.
You’ll need to dedicate yourself to the art form, learning its history as well as learning how to execute different dance forms. You’ll need to play well with others while also doing your best to stand out from the crowd. You’ll even need to build your personal brand from the ground up with the help of stellar performances and social media.
This article will provide you with some very valuable tips for how to be a famous dancer and a successful performer in one of the most competitive industries in the world.
We’ll even have some words of wisdom from expert performers and dancers who have been doing this work for years and years.
Let’s jump into the heart of the matter and talk about what it takes to make a truly great dancer.
Commit yourself to study
Studying and practicing dance isn’t all you need to do to become a famous dancer, but it’s definitely a foundation that you can’t skip past out of convenience.
Every dancer is capable of moving on their own, and we’ll be talking a bit about improvised dance later on, but understanding at least the basics of different dance forms that have been taught throughout history is essential to creating your own routines now and in the future.
Of course, studying dance at an accredited institution or with an acclaimed dance company is one of the best ways to absorb this information and find your footing, so to speak.
But when it comes to practicing dance, it never really ends. Even if you work through multiple dance training programs and impress your instructors at every turn, you will need to keep practicing throughout your career to maintain that level of skill.
That said, this is the perfect time to ask yourself whether you’re ready and willing to commit to dance as a profession. Do you have the patience to practice and improve over time?
Joanne Liebenberg: balancing preparation and adaptation
We received a crucial bit of advice on this topic from award-winning professional dancer and choreographer Joanne Liebenberg, who has performed with Royal Caribbean International, Broadway Dance Center, and Followspot Productions at Kalk Bay Theatre, and who has signed contracts with multiple dance companies here in the United States.
Having performed pre-determined routines as well as her own routines (including improvised pieces), Liebenberg recognizes the value of versatility and adaptation while also recognizing that skill and discipline make those traits possible:
“If I am performing my own choreography, I will rehearse and practice until I feel my pieces are ready to be showcased. In some cases I improvise pieces, responding to and interpreting the music in my own way on the spot, which needs no rehearsal, just many years of dance experience.”
That kind of versatility and ability to respond to something in the moment– these are skills that the most talented and well-known dancers have all shared.
The dancers we all know and love were never just one thing. They didn’t limit themselves when they were making art.
No matter what style of dance you’d like to be famous for, remember that there’s always a give and take between the routine itself and the truth of the moment.
Be willing to collaborate
Dancers who want to make a name for themselves should definitely be willing to collaborate, and we don’t just mean performing with other dancers on stage and not always taking the spotlight.
Yes, learning to be a functioning member of a larger group or a consistent dance company is certainly important, but for professional dancers, collaboration can go well beyond what happens on stage.
We could even say that collaboration is a mindset. It’s a willingness to listen to others and consider their unique perspectives.
Not only does this give you the opportunity to accept feedback and improve your own skills, but in certain situations, it can also be a form of networking.
When different dance industry professionals (choreographers, dance company heads, talent scouts, etc.) know just how cooperative and collaborative you are, then they’ll be much more likely to hire you to work on different projects.
You might even catch the eye of a veteran dancer who’s willing to show you the ropes and help you navigate the challenges of this very demanding industry.
Pablo Landeta: control your nerves
Our next piece of advice comes from a consummate performer who has extensive professional experience in both dance and circus arts: Pablo Landeta.
Originally from Mexico City, Landeta has dedicated his life to performance, immersing himself in many different styles of dance and iterations of the circus arts. Given his professional pedigree, Landeta knows a thing or two about preparing for a show and taking care of feelings of stage fright.
Knowing how to manage stage fright is arguably even more crucial for circus performers such as Landeta than it is for professional dancers because it’s not just the performance itself or the audience’s enjoyment that’s on the line. Safety is a primary concern, and making mistakes due to nerves could be catastrophic, as Landeta explained.
“As a circus artist, it is one of the most important parts of our job to be able to control our nerves at all times. Eventually, you get to a place in your training where you know yourself and your limits. At the moment of being in front of an audience, all of that practice, training, and patience is what will give you peace of mind. Ultimately, even if things don’t work out as planned, when you have control over your nerves the outcome is always a lot more favorable.”
Though most dancers won’t be risking quite as much when they’re on stage, that idea of being intimately acquainted with your body and its limitations is key for professional dancers.
If you know yourself that well and you’re able to quell pre-show jitters to a large degree, then your performance will be what you want it to be, and audiences will take notice.
Build your brand
Whether we like it or not, becoming famous in any field or any art form is very much about marketing and branding.
We’ve saved this point for last because we wanted to make it clear that legitimate skill and performance are the most important elements here.
But building your brand as you become a more skilled dancer can help attract attention to your work and keep people invested in that work and in your persona over a long period of time.
Posting to social media on a consistent basis can go a long way toward generating that attention and even a sense of loyalty and investment between you and your fans.
Give small updates about what you’re working on right now, as long as it doesn’t reveal too much about an upcoming performance. Show parts of your practice routine. You could even answer questions and give advice to other young hopeful dancers who follow you.
Be creative. Your brand can be whatever you want it to be. As long as dance is at the forefront, you’ll be on your way to becoming a famous dancer.