Studio Owners

Spruce Up Your Resumé to Help Land Your Next Teaching Gig

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No matter how stellar your teaching or choreo-graphy skills, having a strong resumé is necessary in today's competitive market.

And it's not all formatting and bullet points. A resumé is a marketing tool to spotlight why you're the most desirable candidate to studio owners and convention directors. But let's be honest, creating one is not a fun and easy task. Selling yourself on paper requires finesse and raises plenty of questions. Do I list every job I've ever had? What's more important: Credentials or experience? Does the one-page format still apply?


Before you panic, follow these simple do's and don'ts to create an application package that will rise to the top of the stack.

DO: Tweak for Each Job

Job postings are like snowflakes—they're each unique. Thoroughly read the job description and alter your cover letter to explain why you are the teacher they're looking for. This can be time-consuming, but it shows you're paying attention to the details.

DO: Include a Professional Summary

Broadway Dance Center director of educational programming Bonnie Erickson says, “On average we receive at least three resumés a day." This means if you want to teach at a large, well-known studio, you have to stand out. Use a few short sentences (at the top of your resumé) to impress right out of the gate, so the hiring manager will keep reading.

DO: Make It Readable

Formatting (i.e. good grammar, consistent font, style, etc.) is important. “But I'm a dance teacher not an English teacher, so does it really matter?" you say. Yes! It's a reflection of you. Make your resumé radiate what you teach your students—flawless execution. And have another set of eyes proofread to ensure an error-free first impression.

DON'T: Let Lack of Experience Hinder You

“For the most part," says Suzanne Blake Gerety, director of DanceStudioOwner.com, “people are impressed with a teacher/choreographer known nationally for teaching, judging or performing experience. However, a good teacher or choreographer can come directly out of a college program."

Whether you've choreographed for “So You Think You Can Dance" or at your university, your experiences are yours. Own them.

“A great performer/choreographer does not always make a great teacher," adds Broadway Dance Center executive director Diane King. “All factors are considered—talent, who they know, experience and then how well they actually teach."

DON'T: Leave Gaps

“Long gaps of unemployment might be a red flag," says Gerety. Whether you took time off to start a family or recover from an injury, make sure to clarify the reason in your cover letter.

DON'T: List Every Job You've Ever Had

“Guest teachers continue to help my business evolve and stay current in the dance world," says Sue Sampson-Dalena, owner of The Dance Studio of Fresno. Show the studio owner you're on top of the latest trends by keeping your job history relevant. It's OK if your resumé is longer than one page, but it shouldn't be a novel. If your teaching experience is as extensive as your choreography credits, consider creating two resumés. Also, include a link to your LinkedIn profile (a great marketing tool), where you can add more detailed information about your experience.

Further Resources:

“How To Write a Resumé That Stands Out," Amy Gallo. Harvard Business Review: hbr.org/2014/12/how-to-write-a-resumé-that-stands-out

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.


"I like to give dancers a phrase of music and choreography and have them reinterpret it," she says, "to be thinkers and creators and not just replicators."

Osato learned this approach—avoiding the natural temptation of the music always being the leader—while earning her MFA in choreography at California Institute of the Arts. "When I was collaborating with a composer for my thesis, he mentioned, 'You always count in eights. Why?'"

This forced Osato out of her creative comfort zone. "The choices I made, my use of music, and its correlation to the movement were put under a microscope," she says. "I learned to not always make the music the driving motive of my work," a habit she attributes to her competition studio training as a young dancer.

While an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, Osato first encountered modern dance. That discovery, along with her experience dancing in Boogiezone Inc.'s off-campus hip-hop company, BREED, co-founded by Elm Pizarro, inspired her own, blended style, combining modern and hip hop with jazz. While still in college, she began working with fellow UCI student Will Johnston, and co-founded the Boogiezone Contemporary Class with Pizarro, an affordable series of classes that brought top choreographers from Los Angeles to Orange County.

"We were trying to bring the hip-hop and contemporary communities together and keep creating work for our friends," says Osato, who has taught for West Coast Dance Explosion and choreographed for studios across the country.

In 2009, Osato, Johnston and Pizarro launched Entity Contemporary Dance, which she and Johnston direct. The company, now based in Los Angeles, won the 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and, in 2019, Osato was chosen for two choreographic residencies (Joffrey Ballet's Winning Works and the USC Kaufman New Movement Residency), and became a full-time associate professor of dance at Santa Monica College.

At SMC, Osato challenges her students—and herself—by incorporating a live percussionist, a luxury that's been on pause during the pandemic. She finds that live music brings a heightened sense of awareness to the room. "I didn't realize what I didn't have until I had it," Osato says. "Live music helps dancers embody weight and heaviness, being grounded into the floor." Instead of the music dictating the movement, they're a part of it.

Osato uses the musician as a collaborator who helps stir her creativity, in real time. "I'll say 'Give me something that's airy and ambient,' and the sounds inspire me," says Osato. She loves playing with tension and release dynamics, fall and recovery, and how those can enhance and digress from the sound.

"I can't wait to get back to the studio and have that again," she says.

Osato made Dance Teacher a Spotify playlist with some of her favorite songs for class—and told us about why she loves some of them.

"Get It Together," by India.Arie

"Her voice and lyrics hit my soul and ground me every time. Dream artist. My go-to recorded music in class is soul R&B. There's simplicity about it that I really connect with."

"Turn Your Lights Down Low," by Bob Marley + The Wailers, Lauryn Hill

"A classic. This song embodies that all-encompassing love and gets the whole room groovin'."

"Diamonds," by Johnnyswim

"This song's uplifting energy and drive is infectious! So much vulnerability, honesty and joy in their voices and instrumentation."

"There Will Be Time," by Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal

"Mumford & Sons' music has always struck a deep chord within me. Their songs are simultaneously stripped-down and complex and feel transcendent."

"With The Love In My Heart," by Jacob Collier, Metropole Orkest, Jules Buckley

"Other than it being insanely energizing and cinematic, I love how challenging the irregular meter is!"

For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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