Starting Your Career as a Dancer

By Mande Dagenais

Allworth Press, 2012

304 pages

When your 17-year-old star student tells you that she’s leaving for Los Angeles to start her career, make sure this guide gets packed in her suitcase. Though written for all dancers, the book will be particularly useful for those embarking on a commercial path.

Author Mande Dagenais is an industry insider. She was director/choreographer for the Los Angeles revue La Cage Aux Folles, worked on productions at Caesar’s Palace and The Fontainebleau Hilton and produced events for Disney and Ford. Her work can also be seen on Celebrity Cruises and Costa Cruises. So when she advises dancers on audition attire, makeup and attitude, you know she’s speaking from experience.

Chapters on business management are the most useful, including topics such as representation, copyright laws, finances and contract review. These sections give young dancers a basic understanding of the dry but necessary information that might otherwise go in one ear and out the other. Dagenais’ chapter on nutrition is relevant for students living on their own for the first time, though the choosing college versus career section fails to address the true scope of college dance, falling back on the decades-old idea that having a career and going to college don’t mix.

When Dagenais sticks to what she knows best, Starting Your Career as a Dancer provides sound advice. It doesn’t dig too deep, but there’s enough to get young professionals to think about dance as a career, not just a hobby.

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