Creating a Sustainable Dance Career

By on May 13, 2016

Building a long lasting and fulfilling career as a WheelOfFortunedancer can look like a daunting and formidable task at first.  But what does a career in dance really mean?  Actually, it can mean so many different things.  Few dancers are able to sustain themselves on performing alone and those that succeed the best with a career in dance find many ways to use their talents.  In other words, they create a Sustainable Wheel of Fortune.  They look beyond performing to a full spectrum of dance arts and opportunities.

A career in the arts takes planning.  Many colleges and conservatories recognize this need and are expanding their curriculum to create career training program.  Some now include courses and majors or minors in things like Arts Administration, Entrepreneurship, Dance Therapy, Dance Medicine and Pedagogy.  There is emphasis on using the arts for social change, personal planning, branding, goal setting and priorities.  To that end, here are some innovators striving to train our emerging dance artists for a life as an artist.

Last year Julliard opened The Alan D. Marks Center for Career Services and Entrepreneurship which “provides a comprehensive integration of career services programs and entrepreneurial strategies into the ecosystem of the Juilliard community, preparing graduates across all disciplines to be confident professionals at the intersection of creativity, technology, and business.”

At the new Kaufman School of Dance, a part of the University of Southern California,  Jodie Gates, Chair said, her goal is “to breed the next generation of hybrid artists — creators, innovators, entrepreneurs.”

Gibney Dance, in New York City, just launched a program called DEEP – Dancers Economic Empowerment Program – “providing opportunities for learning and skill-building through a series of free sessions covering topics ranging from career planning to injury prevention.”

But these are not the only institutions providing training and guidance so that the dancers entering the workforce will be able to forge their own artistic paths and insure the future of dance arts for years to come.

About Susan Esptein

Susan was born into the dance world, and at an early age worked in her family dance retail business, Taffy’s. She studied dance and began performing at a young age. Susan earned a BFA in Dance from SMU and did graduate work at Case Western Reserve University. After a NYC dance career, Susan joined the family business full time. In that role she is credited with introducing several innovative products and services, building the business and then selling it to Capezio. Susan then became an industry marketing and merchandising consultant. She is a past president of The United Dance Merchants of America and is the founder of the UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Show, and directed it for over 20 years. Susan continues her interest in dance and dance products, consulting with industry leaders and guiding them to new opportunities. Currently she is developing seminars and blogs focused on dance colleges and careers – with the goal of educating dancers of the many pathways their training can take them from performing and teaching to community engagement, and from business and entrepreneurial ventures to dance therapy and healing.

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