In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.
"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."
As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.
Put a Label on It<p>If you want more lucrative and prestigious teaching gigs, you need to market yourself like someone who's qualified for them. Just like in any other kind of business, marketing your services is a key component of finding (and keeping!) teaching jobs. Erin Pride, an online business coach for dance professionals, recommends drilling down on what she calls your "spark." "Make a list of what you're naturally good at, what comes easily to you as a teacher," she suggests. Get specific about the most obvious value you offer to those looking to hire you. Did you train with one of the dance world's big names? Are you certified in a particular technique or methodology? Are you prepared to offer something unusual, like explicitly body-positive instruction or a rarer discipline (folklórico, Gyrotonic, etc.)?</p>
Figuring Out Financial Freedom<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY3MzI3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDI4NzE4NX0.2UwPmN5fi8B0dmMECKQ-7oAUxYdiFtZB6f8owi4s-C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="cbe59" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5386beebc108e7c64dc3b040285b1105" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Ben Henry-Moreland, a young white man, wears a blue button-down shirt. He crosses his arms and smiles against a brick wall backdrop." data-width="4272" data-height="2848" />
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis