Jobs for poor college dancers

July 6, 2009

As the school year begins, you’re undoubtedly looking forward to a semester filled with new faces, classes, celebrations—and jobs. Here’s how to keep your wallet stuffed with cash so you can afford a few nights out on the town (or at least a dinner that’s not from the cafeteria!). And don’t worry if waitressing isn’t your thing—these gigs are geared toward money-hungry


Get a gig with an entertainment company: 


As a dancer, you’re probably used to busting a move at parties—but now you can get paid for it! Many entertainment companies (think DJs, emcees and bands) hire dancers to be “crowd motivators” at events (from birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs to family reunions) and lead the crowd to the dance floor. “You should be able to dance better than the average party guest,” says Eric Cutler, president of Florida-based M&M Entertainment. “A dance background helps because your job is to make the dance floor more lively.” So if you’re an Electric Sliding, Cupid Shuffling, Macarena pro, this gig is for you! You’ll work based on your availability, not a set schedule, which will be convenient when finals roll around. For putting on a happy face and your dancing shoes for 4 to 5 hours, you can bring in $200! 


Teach at a local studio:

Whether you have time to teach a weekly class or can only substitute when needed, teaching at a studio near your college campus can be fun and rewarding. “I knew that working at a local studio would never feel like a job because it’s something I enjoy,” says Ashley Glenn, who has been teaching at Rhythm Dance Academy in Cheshire, CT, for four years while pursuing her doctorate in physical therapy at Quinnipiac University. “I was a freshman in Quinnipiac’s Dance Company when I became interested in pursuing a teaching job part-time,” she says. “A senior in the company was graduating and asked if anyone was interested in filling her position. Now I’m working up to 10 hours a week!” Not only will teaching bring in some dough (expect $16–20 an hour!), it’s also a great way to hone your choreography skills. 


Be a birthday ballerina:


Krista Jennings, a senior ballet and modern dance major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, spent a Saturday in her tutu and pointe shoes for a ballerina-themed birthday party—to which she was the main attraction. “I showed up in costume, made a grand entrance for the kids and performed a solo,” she says. “I had to make it really simple because I was in a living room!” Jennings spent an hour and a half leading the kids in stretches, teaching basic ballet steps and choreographing a dance with them. At the end of the party, they performed together for the parents and each girl took a photo with Jennings. “It’s kind of like being a celebrity,” she says. To get started as a birthday ballerina, hang fliers at a local studio and talk to the studio owner and parents about your availability. For an hour and a half, Jennings made $60.


Strike a pose—model dancewear:

If you’ve dreamed of seeing yourself on the pages of your favorite catalog, stop dreaming and start acting (er, posing)! Dancewear companies are always seeking new talent, so send them your most recent (preferably professional) dance photos for consideration (check the company’s website for contact info). If the company wants you, you’ll be paid for the time you spend at the photo shoot, plus some retailers give their models discounts for future shopping. Score!


Photo: M&M Entertainment