Things I've learned while freelancing thus far

I'm in a weird mood today and have really been itching to get some content out for my readers. Per my odd mood, instead of writing a regular run-of-the-mill blog, I am going to change it up and serve you with a BList, or Blog List (aren't I ingenious?). Today, I offer you a list of things I've learned while freelancing thus far. Ya know, since I still have so much more to learn and experience. Enjoy!

- Since I don't dance for any company full-time, I don't have the option of company class every morning. If I don't take class every day of the week, I am not going to get out of shape, lose all of the technique I've been working on since I was 2, or get fat.

- If I don't take class multiple times a week, I will get out of shape, find certain areas of my technique are faltering, lose strength, and possibly get fat.

- Just because you are offered to travel somewhere exotic, doesn't mean it is a great offer. For instance, I was offered to go to Hawaii to perform Nutcracker. I would fly the day before the shows and go straight from the airport to rehearsal. And I would fly out the day after the shows. Nothing like a half-day of travel into rehearsal, 6 shows, and then another half-day of travel without getting the glory of seeing this paradise.

- Sometimes it seems you are approaching an agreement with an employer. This doesn't mean you should get excited. It is not uncommon for all communication to suddenly cease and to never hear from said employer ever again.

- Getting to travel to dance around the world is exciting and really cool. Most people you interact with will think it is the most glorious thing ever. Though, sometimes you just want to sleep in your own bed, pet your cats, and spend time with your partner/lover/close friends/family/etc.

- It doesn't matter how small or under the radar most companies are, there are amazing dancers EVERYWHERE! Not just in the largest companies that receive the most press.

- Nobody should EVER be placed with a host family that doesn't have wireless internet. Just saying.

- Usually, at least half of the people that take advanced open classes probably belong in beginner open classes. Also, they have absolutely no spatial awareness. This can present a challenge when you are trying to keep in shape and challenge yourself as your own teacher.

- NEVER negotiate via skype or phone. Get it in writing (usually via email). Also, don't be afraid to make requests that you may feel are out of reach. If they are and the employer is in this negotiation in good faith, they will compromise or explain why they can't agree to certain terms.

10 degrees in Anchorage - I left coat in car to go clubbing
- Alaska isn't a scary place.  (I will be returning to dance with Alaska Dance Theatre for their Winter season this January - April).

- Leaving for a gig that is more than a month is a great reason to throw a party! Which means you get multiple going away parties a year!

-  It is alright if I take a contemporary class for my warm-up/technique class. I won't lose my ballet technique by supplementing other styles and I will expand my reach as an artist.

- Some people will ask you to do things for free. But others will compensate you like a rockstar. Show your appreciation when due. And be prepared to perform like said rockstar!

- You will have better access to footage/pictures of your career than you would ever have dancing for a unionized company.

- If you need something, you have to ask for it.

- New York is the easiest and hardest place to freelance. There are more gigs per capita, which are easily accessible, but most freelancers can't afford to live comfortably on dancing itself in Manhattan, let alone any other safe neighborhood in a different borough

- Some gigs will be horribly unprofessional. Try your best to complete your duties, but don't forget to respect and protect yourself. If you feel like conditions are unsafe, speak up. If you are not getting paid on time/correctly, make the employer very aware that this practice is not acceptable. Be sure to document all of these activities to protect yourself.

- Integrity is everything.

- The internet is your best friend. Along with Google. Go on the search engine, think of a place you want to visit, add the word ballet at the end, and unabashedly email. (I want to visit Atlanta and I love to dance. Google: Atlanta Ballet. Obviously, you will get Atlanta Ballet, but keep searching. Then, email these companies that you are available for work. Before you know it, you could be traveling to Atlanta to work).

- One of the most important tools of the trade are your freelancing friends. Not only can these friends pass work along to you if they are unavailable, but they know exactly what it is like to be a freelance dancer. Nothing beats the support and advice of a friend that has been through exactly what you may be going through.

- Most professional dancers are the same around the world. Amazingly talented and slightly insecure. No matter the front they put up, they really just want to be accepted. Also, nearly all pros really know how to have a good time.


  1. In some future post, can you tell us Barry, one of the BEST gigs you have EVER had and WHY? I know so many of your contracts were fun, exciting and special...but did ONE stand out more than any other one? What made this one so memorable? Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the enthusiastic comment Dave! I'll have to think about this one. It's interesting because this isnt the first time that somebody has asked me to do a post about my favorite and most positive experience. I find it hard to shout out a favorite because, honestly, every gig has its ups and downs. For one, the host family may be the best part, and others could be the shows, pay, or location. I try to openly post the best parts of each experience that I have. So, instead of posting "THIS IS MY FAVORITE," I post "This is my favorite aspect of this experience." Ill think about it and keep commenting!