Do Dancers Need Demo Reels?

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Besides actors, do other industry professionals need reels? As a dancer, should I have a reel? —Casey M., Atlanta

Great question and the answer is most definitely yes! Reels aren’t just for actors; they’re for anyone (and everyone) in the entertainment industry. And in this day and age where the most engagement comes from watching videos, it makes perfect sense for dancers to showcase their work on a reel.

So, where do you start when it comes to putting together your dance reel? First, just like an actor would, collect your dance clips. Find and compile your best moments from past shows. Make sure the footage is clear and that it showcases your style. Start out with your strongest clips, and if you’re targeting a specific role, make sure to include the types of combinations they’re looking for. If you’re using footage that includes other dancers, make sure that the first few clips make it clear whose reel it is, especially since it may not be clear to viewers who don’t know you. You can do this by editing a spotlight around you or darkening the rest of the clip so you stand out.

Don’t have all of your shows on video? You can easily shoot extra footage using a tripod and your cellphone’s HD camera. (Just make sure that wherever you’re shooting won’t distract from your work.) When editing together all of your clips, either use music from the individual pieces, making sure the music flows together effortlessly, or use one music piece to underscore the whole reel, lining up your dance moves so they match the beat of the music.

Keep in mind that directors and casting directors want to see you, your personality, and your individuality, so find the best moments that showcase you! Just like for an actor’s reel, keep it 2-3 minutes long and don’t forget to include captions highlighting the places you’ve danced. At the end of your reel, add your name and contact info so they know how to contact you.

Jonathan Eng