How to find out about paid contemporary dance work

When I was 23, I saw Akram Khan Company perform in San Francisco. As an American dancer, having graduated with a BA in Dance and working as a part-time waitress/part-time dancer, I was amazed at the idea that people could find full-time jobs in dance. Even my friends in New York still had to work other jobs outside their dance company jobs and I wasn’t interested in becoming a commercial dancer and moving to LA. Being a bilingual dance artist – classical Indian and contemporary dance - I realised I was in the wrong country to make a living out of my niche ability. I decided to look online at the opportunities in England to work in projects as a full-time dancer. I went online and visited www.londondance.com.

Many, many companies were listed there under the South Asian genre, but hundreds more under contemporary companies in general. I took out a credit card and moved to London for 3 months, auditioning the bejesus out of every South Asian contemporary and mainstream contemporary dance company I could. I did morning class with Akram Khan Company at Sadler’s Wells. I auditioned for Jean Abreu. Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company took me for an audition as did Mavin Khoo Dance; both were successful. Shobana offered me a 6-month contract before the sweat even dried off my body from the audition. I took it. I’ve been working for SJDC on and off for the last 9 years and am now a British citizen. Thank you londondance.com.

Since my move to the UK in 2004, I’ve found these websites most useful for keeping in the know of what contemporary companies are auditioning and what they’re all about:

My favourites: Article 19 - www.article19.co.uk/06/auditions/

and The Place’s audition website “Juice” - http://www.theplace.org.uk/16/auditions/auditions.html

Look into getting on the books of the operas at English National Opera and Royal Opera House. They often use contemporary dancers. Call them and ask for the email addresses of their Head of Movement or Chorus Managers.

Also good for Europe:

The Dancer - www.thedancer.be/?type=auditions&lng=eng (they also list more websites for Europe)

and Contredanse - http://www.contredanse.org

I have to say though; a really useful way to learn about auditions is by getting in with more contemporary dancers. Go to professional class at The Place or Greenwich Dance Agency or Independent Dance at Siobhan Davies Studios. Meet people. They talk. My best job as a contemporary dancer so far was performing in last year’s Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics with Akram Khan Company. Funny - I came full circle from seeing his company in America in 2003. I learned about that audition through a friend in a morning class at The Place. So if you want to be seen onstage in contemporary work, get your face seen in morning contemporary class. Either at these institutions or with the companies you’re interested in performing for. Good Luck!