1. Keep going to class.
Technique goes out the window quickly. Rudolf Nureyev famously said, “Miss one class, I can tell.... Miss a week, the audience can tell.” Class should also include singing lessons and acting classes. The more you flex your artistic muscles, the more opportunities will come your way.
2. Stay open to new styles of movement.
Sometimes the director and choreographer aren’t looking for pointed toes and technique. Including me! It is just as useful to be able to be pedestrian or naturalistic. Put technique in your back pocket and do what is asked of you. Postmodernism is just as difficult in a different way.
3. Learn how to read the creative room.
It’s great to have ideas, but don’t interrupt your creative team; if they have an idea you might not agree with, have patience. Maybe they are still forming it and need you to be “clay” in that moment. If it feels collaborative, go for it—maybe your thought will spark a new idea.
4. Say yes to swing and dance captain offers.
Don’t be afraid to take a job as an understudy or dance captain. Understudying pushes you outside your comfort zone. Dance captaining makes you better at articulating ideas to others and sharpens organizational skills. Seeing the big picture will help you as a dancer in any situation.
5. Take care of your instrument.
Don’t drink excessively. Go to bed early. Eat healthy food. Warm up before each show. If you have an injury, seek treatment—otherwise it might not heal correctly and will haunt you for years.
6. Always do your homework.
With Google and iTunes at your fingertips, you can find out the content of shows and bios of the creative team. Knowledge goes a long way when walking into an audition or rehearsal. It will help you prepare, too.
7. Stay creative.
Write down your dreams and ideas. In your free time, exercise your creative brain by doing whatever makes you happy. Choreograph, draw, read, write! You never know where the next great idea will come from…. Lin-Manuel Miranda was reading a book about Alexander Hamilton on the beach, and poof!
8. Creating a full life is as important as creating work.
To be a great artist, you must experience life. Stay present and actively engaged in the world. Choose healthy people to surround you in friendship and love.
9. Be authentic.
All you can do is prepare for auditions and rehearsals. The directors and choreographers need their cast to be individuals. Don’t waste a moment wishing you were taller, shorter, darker, or lighter. Be your best self. That’s what lights our fire and gets us excited about having you in our show. That’s what’s interesting onstage.
10. Be kind to yourself.
The most important piece of advice! Sometimes you won’t get that job that you want badly; sometimes the job that you thought would be life-changing isn’t. It’s OK. Take a deep breath and remember it’s a long career, with ups and downs. Treat yourself with respect and dignity.
Latarro is choreographer of the Broadway musical “Waitress,” beginning previews March 25.
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