4 Tips to Upskill in 2018

4 Tips on Upskilling in 2018


Choosing to become a performer or creative is a doozy. You’ve picked the industry with no rules for success or failure. You know that even if you choose HSC dance, graduate with a diploma/degree from a Performance Institute AND land yourself an agent, you still might not get any actual work.


So, what can you control? Your thoughts and motivation. Your willingness to actually show up and put yourself out there. Your attitude. And, your skills.


I want to talk about having the actual skills required for actual jobs - and I don’t mean just changing your Insta profile declaring you’re a professional.


Here are just a few tips that I know you will need this year…


1. Stay out of your own way. I’ve noticed that a lot of peoples’ ideas and stories that they tell themselves can be far-fetched from facts. The stories we tell ourselves to settle that uncomfortable feeling about not being good enough can actually inhibit our growth as an artist. YOU can actually be in your own way. So don’t make up stories about who’s working on what and what jobs are or aren’t happening. Work hard, love your craft and clap for yourself


2. Invest in yourself. So if you want to look the part; look the part!  Do you actually know how to fuel your body correctly so it can function like an elite athlete? And I’m not even talking about aesthetics. Aesthetics are the direct result of great nutrition and taking the time to invest in your body. You have to be fit and healthy, at any shape and size, to survive and maintain the workload that will require you to work between 38-60 hours a week. Save your pennies, get that haircut and invest in good shoes for your poor, hard-working feet. Get completely clear about how you want to present yourself in an authentic way. Girls, put the contour kit down.


3. Look after yourself. Do you know how to warm up properly so you can actually shoot that 4am TVC dancing flat out without injury? Listen to your body. Cool down, take a breather, take 5 mins and stretch. Don’t cramp in the car on the way home.


4. Take the right class. Are you taking the right classes that actually give you the skills for the real jobs that are currently happening? I’m not talking about class vids that are fantastic and certainly serve a purpose. They are fantastic for your soul but I can’t remember the last time they bought my groceries.


Let me give you an example:


In the last two years I’ve done two musicals. Two PARTNERING musicals. On these last two shows, I’ve played a part in finding at least 4 extra jobs post-casting for performers. 4 paid jobs with per diem. In fact every show I’ve ever done has required me to partner to some extent.


My responsibilities as a Choreographer or Dance Captain are to find the best people for my show. Skills, personality and work ethic are the things that matter the most to me when hiring a performer.


I can’t tell you how much I need dancers who can partner. Men and women. I need dancers who know how to lead and be lead, who know timing and partnerships. Who know the difference between force and form. Dancers who can lift, spin, trust and launch WITHOUT injuring themselves or their partner.


When the re-casting timeframe is limited and there’s not enough time to teach you how to partner (or be partnered) in an audition, those dancers who already know how to partner will certainly standout in the audition.  


But where are the partnering classes? 


Not Ballet Pas de duex, not ballroom (although both of these are mandatory in my opinion), but general dance partnering.


I am so willing and able to teach it, as are my wonderful colleagues and friends but no one is asking or has asked. Is there a demand? There is certainly a need.


In a saturated market of workshops, guest masterclasses and international faculties, if you are serious about a career in dance, make sure you are serious about doing your research; choose wisely about what you expose yourself to, how to treat your mind and body, and how you choose to stay current and up-skill.


Nobody has money or time or energy to waste on things that don’t serve them. So make sure you sort the HYPE from the REALITY. What skills do you need to land this job, the next job, and the one after that? 


Find the balance between what’s popular, inspirational, and practical to best serve yourself in the future.


We have to support, learn and teach each other. Otherwise the next generation of dancers won’t have a well-rounded education of our industry. 


Just a lot of trophies.


Amy -xx-

Amy Campbell