If you’re pursuing a career as a professional dancer, you’re probably used to wearing many hats: performer, choreographer, marketer, producer. Here’s another one to add to your list: the resume builder. At any given time, you’ll likely need two very different resumes: one for performing gigs and one for the side jobs that often exist outside of dance. Although each requires a very different approach with little overlap, both require near-constant revision. “I always encourage dancers to adapt their resumes to each new job opportunity,” says Sophia Kozak, career counselor at Career Transition For Dancers. “Don’t send a cookie-cutter resume 50 places, it won’t land.”
The dance resume
The basics: Provide your name, height and contact details. If you are represented by an agency, Bloc talent agent Shayna Brouillard recommends writing down your agent’s contact information rather than your own. (If you’re not pictured, include your phone number and email address.) “Recently, we asked customers to add their Instagram handle,” Brouillard adds. “With the lack of physical auditions, everyone is asking for it.” Don’t worry about your follower count, she notes: “It’s more about streaks, just make sure they’re things you’re proud of, that represent you as a dancer.”
Works: Separate this section by media type: TV/film, live performance, commercials, etc. In each category, list the job title; your role (“Were you a dancer? The dance captain? Overall? Be specific,” says Brouillard); the choreographer or director, and the television or film network, if applicable. Brouillard recommends not including the year it happened.
Coaching: “I love when dancers separate their training into two categories: people who have been your home studio teachers or mentors, and then masterclasses or workshops you’ve taken,” Brouillard says. The first category is useful if an agent needs to call someone to speak on your behalf. “It’s something we do often,” she says. This last category is a way to demonstrate that you have done the work necessary to diversify your training and establish connections.
Special Skills: Keep this section down, Fog says, and keep it short. Include any assets you have, such as aerial work, other languages, juggling, or skateboarding.
Price: “If you don’t have a lot of real experience yet, you can add notable rewards,” says
Fog, like a title or scholarship obtained during a major competition.
• Do not lie. “If you think of Brian Friedman as someone you’ve practiced a lot with, and I call him and he doesn’t know who you are, that’s not good,” Brouillard said.
• Keep separate resumes for performance and choreography. While your basic information will remain the same, the jobs, training, and even awards in a choreography resume should focus on your, well, your choreography history, says Brouillard. “But it’s okay to include some of the highlights from either resume on the other,” she says.
• Do not include a goal. “For a dance resume, we assume your goal is that you want to be a professional dancer,” says Brouillard.
The extra CV
Introduction: Kozak suggests opening your resume with three to five main ideas that you’d like potential employers to see. It can be an objective – your goal in applying for this job – or, even better, a summary of highlights that demonstrate your experience and applicable transferable skills.
Experience: List your work experience in reverse chronological order, using bullet points to detail your role and the impact you’ve had on the organization. Although difficult to quantify, highlight all transferable skills. “Perhaps you organized the customer database, which allowed for smoother, easier access and faster response times for staff members,” says Kozak. Don’t use more than one line of text per bullet and don’t list every job you’ve held – only include jobs that relate to the one you’re applying for.
Education: The lowest thing on your resume should be your education, Kozak says, listed in reverse chronological order.
• Whenever possible, establish links in advance. “A resume with some sort of reference or contact with the organization is great,” says Kozak. “Reach out on LinkedIn or do an informational interview with someone at the company.”
• Use context clues. Kozak recommends relying on the language of the job description to tailor your resume. “If the employer uses certain terminology, use that jargon – it clearly makes sense to them,” she says.
• Include a cover letter. “Even if they don’t ask,” Kozak says. On one page, explain who you are, why you’re interested in the role, and how you align with the company’s vision.
Advice for any CV
• Keep everything on one page. Anything longer than a single page won’t be read, at best, and might even backfire on you, at worst.
• Ignore your references. Add them only if requested.
• Nix the cursive font. “You want your resume to be simple and easy to read, nothing too cluttered,” says Shayna Brouillard, of talent agency Bloc.