In this day and age, it’s not enough to just be a dancer. Agents, casting directors and producers want talent with more than one skill. You don’t need to be a master at multiple skills, but you should have one or two tucked away in your back pocket to whip out when needed.
One of the most appealing additional skills for dancers to have at the moment is acting training. When I was younger I had no interest in acting – I just wanted to dance. My agent was constantly hounding me about taking acting classes to round out my skills, and eventually I caved and agreed to do it to “make him happy”. It was really unexpected, but I ended up loving it! I was exploring and experiencing my artistry in a new way, and without knowing it, my artistry as a dancer was improving because of it. Next thing I knew, I had booked my first acting job as a lead on “The Next Step”. The show has completely changed my life, and I never would have had that opportunity if I brushed aside the importance of training in other skills.
Dancers are always asking for recommendations on acting classes, so I’ve decided to put together a list of a few good places to start.
Pro Actors Lab – www.proactorslab.com
This is the studio I spend the most time at. Marvin Hinz and Glen Gaston are great for the ultimate beginner. Bruce Clayton’s On Camera Class is a wonderful transition for dancers – you are challenged and pushed, but Bruce has an incredible knack for keeping your confidence high (which is just as important in acting as it is in dance) even though you may feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. Rae Ellen Bodie’s Voice class is a fantastic way for dancers to understand their bodies (even more than we already do) and access your emotional life through breath work. David Rotenberg’s classes are my favorite, but I would absolutely recommend training with at least one or two of the teachers listed above before graduating to his class.
Second City – www.secondcity.com/toronto
Improv can be used anywhere and everywhere, so it’s a good idea to get some basic skills under your belt. Skip Improv A – E, and go directly to the Improv For Actors class. Once you’ve gotten a taste, you can decide if you want to further your training, but this class gives you a crash course in improv, and really pushes you to step outside your comfort zone!
LB Acting Studio – www.lbactingstudio.com
Lewis Baumander runs this studio that has a wide array of styles and teachers. They even specialize in youth classes – this is a great place for dancers still in school to test the waters and see if acting could be a part of their lives!
Armstrong Acting Studios – www.armstrongactingstudios.com
This is another well-known acting studio in Toronto. They offer various classes with many different instructors, but beware – classes are a bit pricey.
Whether it’s always been your dream to become an actor, or you just want to round out your skills as a performer, taking class and training is paramount to your success. Just as with dance classes, it’s essential that you find teachers you connect with. Most importantly – enjoy the journey! Don’t be afraid to fail, and just go for it :)