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How Are Dancers Chosen To Be Assistants at Dance Conventions?

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One of the most coveted opportunities for young dancers is being chosen as an assistant to a dance convention instructor. It’s the experience of a lifetime to learn from and dance alongside dance industry professionals. But how do dancers get chosen to be assistants at dance conventions?

Dancers are chosen to be assistants at dance conventions by auditions, invite-only auditions, and by having a high score in the solo division at a competition, among other ways.

Photo grid of three dancers, from left - blonde dancer with long hair and a black leotard in a modern dance pose, redheaded male dancer in red pants and white long sleeved shirt; black female dancer with short hair wearing a black leotard and black leggings

Being chosen to be a convention assistant is a privilege and an honor, so read on to find out what it takes to be a part of the convention community!

What Does a Dance Convention Assistant Do?

First, if the dance convention world is new to you, you may wonder what exactly an assistant does at a dance convention and why it’s such a big deal to be chosen.

Dance Convention Assistants Demonstrate

Dance convention teachers may or may not be actively performing full-out dance steps anymore. Having advanced-level students demonstrate the more difficult steps is very helpful.

Some instructors will have multiple assistants to help with younger dancers when going across the floor.

That way, the teacher can focus on teaching and not demonstrating with every group.

Dance convention assistants must be versatile dancers who are fluent in multiple styles, from tap to jazz to contemporary dance in order to demonstrate well.

Dance Convention Assistants Help Run The Event

A photo of many black and silver road cases in what looks like the backstage area of a theatre.

Assistants may also be asked to run music, hand out audition numbers, learn special choreography, participate in seminars, or work backstage.

Working backstage or in other facets of the event might include helping at the merchandise table, serving as a runner to retrieve dancers from dressing rooms, or handing out trophies at awards.

Being a convention assistant affords dancers the opportunity not only to dance but to participate in the entire event, which can be a beneficial experience.

For more on the ins and outs of dance conventions, read our article What is a Dance Convention? – The Info You Need To Know.

Do You Have To Pay To Be a Dance Convention Assistant?

A woman with long auburn hair wearing a cream colored sleeveless shirt and green, round sunglasses. She is holding a bunch of paper money in one hand and pointing to it with the other, making a surprised expression.

Most of the time, you do not have to pay to be a dance convention assistant.

Even though you are there as an assistant, you are still reaping the benefits of every class you assist, and those classes are free.

However, there is a financial piece to consider when accepting an assistant position.

Most conventions require assistants to travel at their own expense to a certain number of events, as few as 3 or as many as 10.

Additionally, a parent or guardian must be present with any assistant under 18, so not only does the dancer have to pay for a flight and hotel, but so does an adult.

All of this info is searchable on every company’s website, so if you are wondering how to choose the best convention, find all that you need to know in our article How To Choose The Right Dance Convention For Your Child

So How Do Assistants Get Chosen For Dance Conventions?

Assistants Are Chosen By Auditions

A dancer, seen from behind, standing in arabesque, on a stage in front of several judges in the audience.

At many dance conventions, dancers have the opportunity to audition to be an assistant.

They are assigned a number for the weekend, and there may be special classes designated as audition classes.

These dancers are evaluated over the weekend by the teachers and staff of the convention. They are chosen based on criteria like the ability to pick up choreography, leadership qualities, and technique.

At this type of convention audition, any dancer that meets the age qualifications can audition.

Sometimes there is an additional fee to audition, an interview portion, or a submission letter.

If you are chosen to be an assistant, you may have to wait until the next season to participate, as most events have their assistants chosen from the year before.

Assistants Are Chosen Based on Solo Performance Scores at Competitions

An image of a gold cup trophy against a shiny, speckled gold backdrop, with the words "High Score" in pink letters to the right of the trophy

If the event is a competition with a convention on the side, you may find that assistants are chosen based on their score from a solo that was competed earlier in the season.

Some competitions offer assistant positions based on a high score, meaning that many dancers may receive the honor.

These competitions offer so many positions knowing that many dancers may not be able to make the time commitment or financial commitment.

Assistants Are Chosen By Invite-Only Auditions

Dance conventions often choose their assistants through invite-only auditions.

This strategy cuts down on the number of people auditioning and helps ensure that the highest-level candidates are being seen.

Invitations to audition may come from a previous event during that season, as an added bonus to winning a title, or from a scholarship offered at a workshop.

You can consider invite-only auditions to be a sort of callback or second round.

Assistants Are Hired From Outside the Convention

A smartphone showing a picture of a teen dancer wearing a navy leotard in a dance pose, with "love" icons floating around it. The phone is against a pink background.

Recently, some dance conventions have strayed away from using participants as assistants.

Instead, they have hired young adult dancers, pre-professional dancers, or social media influencers who are also dancers to be assistants.

Being an assistant is hard work – the long hours, constant need to dance full-out, and traveling every weekend can burn out even the most passionate student dancer.

Hiring Young Adult Dancers

Young adult dancers, like college students or pre-professionals, may have more flexibility in their schedules to commit to the whole season of conventions.

Bringing in Personal Students

Another way assistants may be chosen is by being brought in by the individual instructors.

Many convention teachers have pre-existing relationships with their own students and prefer to use dancers who know their teaching style as their assistants.

Hiring Social Media Dance Influencers

Finally, some conventions will bring in social media-famous dancers to be assistants so they can advertise the brand through their social media.

When dancers are hired from outside the company, they may be compensated for their work, or their work may be considered free training for the dancer.

As you can see, there are many avenues that lead to being chosen as an assistant at a dance convention. If your child is interested in being considered, make sure you know the ins and outs of the requirements and expectations of the position before committing!

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