Acting Out

By Donatelli, Jen Jones | Dance Spirit, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Acting Out


Donatelli, Jen Jones, Dance Spirit


THINKING ABOUT MAKING THE LEAP FROM DANCING TO ACTING? HERE'S HOW TO JUMP-START YOUR ACTING CAREER.

Whether they're kick-ball-changing into your living room on "Glee" up the silver screen in Step Up Revolution, dancers mg some of today's juiciest acting roles. And the trend isn't gong m end anytime soon, according to McDonald/Selznick Associates agent Snelli Margheritis. "More projects than ever are considering dancers, from films to commercials to television shows," she says.

Of course, being successful as an actor takes more than just a dancer's killer physique and stage presence. To get insider intel on how to become a true double threat, we asked some of your favorite famous faces for their top tips on making the transition in style.

Don't fake it till you make it. Learn the craft.

When the chance to audition for "Bunheads" came along, ballerina Julia Goldani Telles had never read a television script before. To get ready for the opportunity, she enlisted an acting coach- a move that, she says, helped prepare her to play the role of Sasha on the show. "My coach taught me how to approach and understand the characters and story," she says. "It was helpful to get feedback and constructive criticism from someone who really knows what she's talking about."

Taking regular acting classes is also essential. Commercial dancer Tyne Stecklein, who's had acting roles on projects like "True Blood" and Rock of Ages, studies everything from cold-reading techniques to the Meisner method of acting in various schools around L.A.- an approach Margheritis says is spot-on. "Dancers always have to keep training, and the same is true of acting," Margheritis says. "If you stay in class, you'll continually add depth to your ability." To find reputable classes in your area, ask your dance agent for a list of referrals or check the listings on websites like backstage.com and nowcasting.com.

Look for help within your agency.

If you already have a dance agent, see if he or she can connect you to a colleague who's plugged into the acting scene. (Once dancers branch out, they may choose to have agents for each of their areas of interest- acting, commercial, voiceover, etc.) "Lots of dance agencies have theatrical departments, which is great for dancers who want to transition," says Stecklein, who's signed with Clear Talent Group. "Staying within your agency is a great way to break into the acting world."

Get noticed.

Want to get ahead? Learn how to dazzle the people who can actually give you parts: casting directors. Margheritis says casting directors often hold workshops and attend acting showcases to spot emerging talent, and her first piece of advice to would-be actors is to seize these opportunities. (Consult trade magazines like Backstage to find out when workshops and showcases are taking place.) "It's an added bonus when a casting director receives your submission for a role after seeing you in person," she says. "They're much more likely to bring you in if they have that connection."

Also, make sure your headshot and reel are up-to-date and represent you in the best light. Margheritis says it's important to have separate acting and dance reels, as well as an array of photos (commercial, theatrical, etc.) so casting directors can envision you in different types of roles. "Be savvy with your picture choices so they're diversified enough to reflect your skill set," she says.

Play up your unique qualifications as a dancer.

All that hard work you've done in the dance studio is about to pay off. From taking direction to hitting marks, many dance skills translate seamlessly to acting.

"Dancers tend to have really good timing, which is essential when delivering dialogue," Margheritis says.

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