Menina Fortunato, is a seasoned professional with many years of experience as a professional dancer in all areas of entertainment. She began her professional career in Vancouver and has been based in Los Angeles for over a decade.
She has had the pleasure of working with the world’s biggest stars including Britney Spears, Beyonce, Earth Wind & Fire, Carmen Electra, Rain (Bi), Luis Miguel, Jennifer Garner, Carrie Underwood, Paula Abdul to name a few. She has toured the world & seen my millions on TV & film. Select credits include America’s Got Talent, Star Trek: Enterprise, Alias, MAD TV, Guy’s Choice Awards to name a few. Most recently she transitioned behind the camera in casting & production on several productions including The X Factor & America’s Got Talent. Go to www.meninafortunato.com to learn more about her career.
After a long performing career, it is her time to give back to the next generation of dancers. She created THE HOLLYWOOD SUMMER TOUR, a dance career intensive for aspiring professional dancers with the intention to education, prepare & inspire dancers to realize their dreams. Go to www.thehollywoodsummertour.com to learn more.
Here is her TOP 10 LIST of THINGS TO DO TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL DANCER
1 – Diversify Your Training
In this ever changing dance industry, a dancer must keep up with the current trends in order to stay competitive. There was a time when dancers specialized in only one form of dance and that was sufficient. In the last decade, thanks to TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, a dancer has more opportunities if they are well versed in multiples styles of dance. Both choreographers & agents love to work with versatile dancers.
2 – Get an Agent
If a dancer wishes to work in all areas of media, including commercials, TV, film, live shows etc, getting a dance agent is essential. Dance Agencies have access to castings that are typically unavailable to the public. A dance agent will negotiate contracts with the intention to protect the dancer’s rights and ensure appropriate wages. Dance agents are typically paid 10-15% commission on the contracts they negotiate for their clients.
3 – Get Professional Photos
Professional photos are the business card for all talent, especially dancers. They are used for agency submissions, casting submissions as well as auditions. The industry standard is an 8×10 photo with the name on the bottom. Some dancers might use a collage of 2 or more images on the same 8×10 print in order to showcase multiple looks. A poor headshot could cost a dancer an audition or a job, so it is critical to choose a photographer that can produce high quality images with proper lighting that captures the “best you”.
4 – Prepare a well formatted Dance Resume
A dance resume is not formatted like a “traditional job” resume. It should be well formatted with the dancer’s name, contact information, stats including height, weight, eye color, as well as credits separated in sub categories (ie. film, tv, stage, theatre, videos, industrials etc), training and special skills.
5 – Create a Professionally Designed Website
Since we are in the digital age, a professional website is very valuable and useful. Like any business, it has everything one needs to know about a dancer’s career – photos, resume, bio, videos, press, contact etc. It allows a dancer to showcase all their work in one place that is easily accessible and viewable by anyone in the world. It can also be integrated with a dancer’s multiple social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc) and casting profiles (IMDB, Casting Networks, The Casting Workbook etc).
6 – Create a Dance Demo Reel
A dance demo reel is a short 1-3 minute montage of video clips showcasing a dancer’s body of work. It should be professional edited with captivating music, titles etc. It should entice and intrigue the viewer. It is a useful marketing tool that can be used for submissions for potential work.
7 – Broadcast your professional work on Video Sharing Networks
Once you have video content worth sharing (ie. professional work, class footage), it is a smart idea to post it on video sharing sites (ie. YouTube, Vimeo etc). It’s also valuable to “tag” the video with key words, so viewers can easily find it. Video sharing allows for anyone around the world to see your work, which could result in booking work worldwide.
8 – Be proactive & seek work opportunities
Even if a dancer has an agent, they should not rely on their agent to find all their work. A dancer should be pro-active and submitting themselves for work, whether it’s blind submissions to potential companies they wish to work for or daily submissions through casting websites.
9 – Attend Dance Related Events
Attending dance related events is a great way to see other dancer’s work, be inspired, and also network with other dance professionals who also might be attending the event. There is a saying in the entertainment world – “out of sight, out of mind”. If potential employers don’t see you, they might forget about you.
10 – Make Friends
Building relationships is very important. “Who you know” and “who knows you” can lead to potential work opportunities. Friends like to hire their friends. It’s not uncommon for a casting director or choreographer to hire someone they know. You can’t afford to burn bridges. Your reputation can & will follow you. A good dancer with a wonderful work ethic and positive attitude is more likely to work than an extraordinary dancer who is unreliable and has a bad attitude. Your like-ability can be just as important as your talent. The dance world is small and building a positive reputation is important for a long lasting career.