Why dancers fail in Hollywood & How you can avoid it. Written by Shane Sparks
It goes back to the beginning of time; all success comes from hard work. There are people with gifts, some with the gift to sing, play guitar, act, host, write or dance.
When we get these gifts, we must sharpen them, polish them, and use them. If you have a gift and you don’t use it, it will be taken away. In the dance world there are so many people with the gift to dance, but only a few will succeed.
There are hundreds of dancers from all over the world who either come to New York or Los Angeles to pursue their career. Many will come, but only a handful will succeed. Most of them won’t last too long or even be able to take care of themselves after a certain amount of time in the business, because dancers don’t get paid very well.
I get sick and tired of dancers coming up to me saying, “I want to do a video”!! They’re thinking that if they do a dance video they made it. Not true, not true!!!! Once you get your first video and are on set for twelve, thirteen hours, work for about 29 minutes out of those hours, get paid $500, pay rent in the apartment you’re sharing with 2 other dancers, you’ll change your mind.
This dance world isn’t easy; you have to come out here with a plan. You have to want more and study as much as you can. Learn how to choreograph, learn how to produce, write music, or take acting classes. Do as much as you can!!
Just because you came to the city to dance doesn’t mean that’s what you’re going to be. I’ve seen dancers turn out to be singers, managers, promoters, and run dance studios. You can’t limit yourself.
Take care of your business and save your money. Get a good agent who cares about you. So many dancers get agents just for the sake of having one, but if they don’t love or care about your career, you’ll just be another dancer in the crowd. Be special and have something to offer that other dancers don’t have. Change your look to standout, but never change who you are because that’s what will keep you there when you do start to work.
Most good jobs will last based off of your personality. There’s nothing worse than having talented people with bad attitudes. You need to understand that all dancers can be replaced, NEVER forget this! There will be someone with fewer skills doing your job just because they can get along with him or her.
You ever watch a video or concert, and see dancers and think, ” I’m better then them?” Well it’s not about who’s the best, it’s about who can get the choreography and be a pleasant person to work with. I have learned that if you got any kind of skills and can remember the choreography; anybody can do most jobs with 6 weeks of rehearsals.
I stress to you my fellow dancers, grow as dancers and as an artist. Expand your horizons; let’s change the way the industry looks at us. I want to change the way they pay us, treat us, and look at us. We should be able to walk into a job, work for a month, and feel comfortable enough to say, ‘I want to go on a vacation.’ There are actors who can retire from 6 months of work at the age of 25. That’s crazy! And you know what, they’ll probably do 20% of the work we would do.
I remember when I first got to Los Angeles, and I auditioned for a dance video. I was new out here, so I was fearless and my style was totally different. After I danced the crowd went crazy. I left and waited two weeks for a call. I didn’t know that if you didn’t get called the next day or a few days later you didn’t BOOK! My friend asked me if I got a call, I was like, “not yet but they will.” I laugh now cuz she looked at me knowing I didn’t get it, but she never said anything. I later found out they wanted a white guy. I learned it’s not your skills sometimes, it’s what you look like, your height, your race, and then it’s skill. It hurt my feelings; from that day on I said I’d never let anyone judge me again, and that’s when I went from being controlled, to being in control.
Best move I ever made, what are you gonna do?
It’s up to you to join me and change the game, so we can retire as a dancer/choreographers, take care of our families, inspire all dancers, and give them hope.
I want to change the minds of parents who think it’s a waste of time to want to be a dancer.
I love this dance game. It changed my life. I owe everything to it.
Dancer for life!!!