If you’ve taken years of dance and you’re sure your skills would wow a crowd, you might be considering a career as a back up dancer. Of course, you’ll need to know how to get your start. You won’t be able to simply sign up like you can for local classes. It’s okay to learn late, according to professional back up dancers, Mark and Donald Romain, but you’ll have to work hard.
Attending both open and private auditions is key. This means, you’ll have to be in an area that hosts dance auditions and get yourself out there as much as possible. In most open calls, you’ll perform a routine twice, then freestyle at the end of the second round before a decision is made. You can expect some tough competition – likely hundreds of qualified dancers hoping for their big break – and lots of waiting time – up to eight to ten hours a day sometimes over the course of several days. Private auditions are much smaller and less time-consuming. Normally, you’ll send a taped routine ahead of time and be selected to audition from your submission.
Like any other gig, networking is key. You’ll have to work hard, staying out there and ensuring you are noticed by the right people. Everyone’s path is different. Some dancers have years of formal training while others wing it, connect with the right people, and the rest is history.
Whether or not you have some training under your belt, you’ll need to market yourself as much as possible. Always ensure you are creating buzz around your name and generating awareness of your brand in the industry.
There is no such thing as down time when you are hoping to make it big in a physically-demanding career. Practice, practice, practice. Sign up for classes, hone your skills at home or work with a trainer. Always participate in workshops at which you’ll be exposed to other industry professional and fellow talent. And, be prepared to shake it for impromptu auditions.
Remember, you must be willing to travel if back-up dancing is your chosen career. You’ll tour with artists and can expect to travel both nationwide and internationally. You’ll need to have your travel documentation updated and with you always and be willing to invest the time needed for performing in all different locales. Flexibility and a willingness to adapt is key. Always make sure to have a little fun while you’re at it!