Check out our podcast episode or even re-watch our live-stream video on Youtube below!
On this month’s Q + A with Courtney, professional dancer, IDA judge, teacher, and business owner Christina Belinsky joined on the Facebook live episode to answer questions from podcast listeners across the country.
One big topic of discussion throughout the episode was how to best prepare teen dancers for a future in the professional world, both in terms of training and exposure and also how to support themselves financially in the all-too-real hustle of a professional performance career.
Christina emphasized the importance of dancers using their communities and resources from a young age since local businesses and community members can be extremely supportive. She also noted that it’s important to let people know what you’re up to, whether you’re working on a project, gearing up for a performance, or just making it known that a professional dance career is the path you’re on. The beauty of our current day and age is that social media is hugely prevalent, so dancers should take advantage of platforms to market themselves in addition to in-person visits with local supporters. You never know when someone might need a dancer for a local commercial, a choreographer for a flash mob, or a last-minute performer in a community theater role!
When it comes to paying bills, dancers often find themselves in a tough spot. Both Christina and Courtney emphasized finding skills and gigs that are related to the performing arts, which harkens back to Christina’s point about staying connected. Whether you’re helping a local business build their social media or dipping your toes into dance photography, these flexible yet lucrative skills can later translate when you’re having to pay rent but are constantly running from auditions to rehearsals. Other great avenues to pursue include graphic design, production, and film, all of which will add to your bank account while also helping to make you a more marketable artist.
At the end of the day, though, Courtney and Christina both mentioned the importance of training and being a supportive team player. Christina noted one of the silver linings of quarantine is the vast availability of online classes with top choreographers! She cited Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway, both in New York City, as places where dancers can, now virtually, take advantage of learning new styles and familiarizing themselves with notable choreographers in the industry from the comfort of their homes. This is also a great way to continue to network, as are competitions and conventions. Courtney also suggested that young dancers seek out mentorship from professionals in the field.
For dancers wanting to experience performance life prior to taking the plunge, theme parks are a great place to explore on a seasonal basis. Courtney and Christina also encouraged dancers to check out Playbill.com and Answers4Dancers to seek out audition opportunities, both locally and in major cities.
In addition to the career discussion, another question that came up was around tap dance. A listener noted that she feels tap tends to be rewarded less at competitions and asked for guidance around how to encourage young tappers to keep going and catch the judges’ attention.
Christina respectfully disagreed with this notion, recalling many amazing competitive tap dancers who she has rewarded over the years. She did note, however, that often tappers get so wrapped up in their sounds and technicalities that they lose the entertainment aspect. She urged young dancers to find videos online of top tappers, including Gregory Hines, Fred Astaire, Chloe and Maud Arnold, and Michelle Dorrance. She reminds listeners that tappers are not just musicians, but ultimately must be consummate performers.
Similarly, Courtney noted that when judging tap, she considers the same elements of a checklist for jazz or lyrical, such as technique, musicality, performance, and phrasing. She understands why people may feel like tap isn’t rewarded as often, but if it’s high quality and checks the boxes, a tapper can definitely win! Both she and Christina agreed that for judges, tap is a breath of fresh air on the competition stage, so don’t be afraid to show off your best tap solo!
In addition to both of these hot topics, Courtney and Christina answered other critical questions from listeners. Be sure to check out the full episode for more insight from both of them, and to learn more about Christina’s business, Artists in Motion Apparel, through which she creates up-cycled, one-of-a-kind hand screen printed designs!
Watch the full live-streamed Q&A with Courtney event below! Stay tuned for our next Facebook Live interactive podcast recording scheduled for Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.