Working with guest artists is an integral part of the college dance experience. Visiting choreographers
expose students to new styles and ways of working, and give them a glimpse of life as a professional.
They can also be a gateway to future jobs and opportunities: On a recent tour, four members of
choreographer David Parker’s cast were dancers he first worked with at universities. But with a relatively
short amount of time to make an impression, forming a relationship with a visiting artist can feel like a
Network to Success
Set the stage for future opportunities by
connecting with guest choreographers.
BY LAUREN WINGENROTH
FROM COLLEGE TO CONTRACT
Networking with guests is a multistep process.
This is what it took for Lex Shimko to secure a
spot in Diavolo’s second company after working
with the group at CalArts:
October 2015: Shimko was cast as an understudy
in a Diavolo piece at CalArts. Throughout the
process, she formed relationships with the
company’s rehearsal directors.
December 2015: Someone got injured, so
she was able to perform, and the rehearsal
directors were impressed by how quickly
she learned the material. Shimko expressed
interest in working with Diavolo in the future,
and they encouraged her to take their open
classes and explained what their audition
process was like.
June 2016: Shimko auditioned for the main
company and got cut. The second company
approached her because they remembered her
from the CalArts piece, and invited her to their
July 2016: Shimko attended the intensive. Then
she spent an additional week training with
dancers the second company was interested in.
August 2016: The second company offered
Shimko a position.
Cornish College of the Arts
students in Kyle Abraham’s
When We Take Flight
READ THE ROOM
Choreographers want to hire dancers who
mesh well with their style of working. But no
two guest artists will need the exact same
thing. “What attracts me is showing curiosity
about the creative process. When there’s a
problem, they engage and don’t just wait for
me to solve it,” says choreographer David
Parker. “For me, that’s the better mistake
to make—to be too assertive. But there are
other choreographers who would disagree.”
Be observant and try to identify how a
choreographer prefers to work, and what type
of participation they require of you.