How to become a backstage dancer
Music Industry Career Roles - Berklee Online
What is Berklee Online?
Berklee Online is the online school of Berklee College of Music, delivering access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world. We are the world’s largest online music school—30,000+ musicians from more than 140 countries have taken our courses—but classes cap at just 20 students per section.
What does Berklee Online offer?
We offer award-winning online courses, multi-course certificate programs, a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Music degree, and a Master of Arts degree.
Who is Berklee Online designed for?
Our programs provide lifelong learning opportunities to people interested in music and working in the music industry. The courses range from beginner to advanced graduate level.
What kind of subjects are taught?
Berklee Online offers more than 200 courses in every musical interest area: Everything from instruction on specific instruments (guitar, piano, bass, drums, voice) to music production software (Ableton, Pro Tools, Logic, and more) to larger concepts in music business, songwriting, theory, and composing for film, TV, and games
Do online students receive the benefits of an on-campus Berklee education?
Absolutely! Just like the students studying on Berklee’s Boston campus, Berklee Online students receive instruction from the same world-renowned faculty, with the added benefit of having music industry professionals from around the world teaching as well. You’ll also receive guidance from Berklee-trained Academic Advisors, and have the opportunity to walk at the Commencement ceremony in Boston with your cohort of graduates who studied online and in-person.
What is the process to apply for/enroll in a Berklee Online program or course?
Certificate programs and online courses are offered on an open enrollment basis. Simply complete the online enrollment form and provide payment prior to the course start date and you’re ready to go! Degree programs require an application and supporting documentation. See the Admission Requirements for more details.
Will I receive a Berklee ID and/or email address?
Berklee Online degree students are eligible to request a Berklee ID. Upon acceptance into the program, degree students are also given a berklee.edu email address.
Can I take non-credit courses in a certificate?
All courses in a certificate program must be taken for credit.
Can I waive some for-credit courses into a certificate?
Students must enroll in a certificate by paying the $175 certificate registration fee prior to completing the final course in the program. All for-credit courses that have been awarded a passing grade and that align with a certificate program may transfer into that program.
Can I upgrade from a lower-level certificate to a higher-level certificate?
Yes! Berklee Online offers two certificate options:
- CHANGE CERTIFICATE: When a student wants to change their lower-level certificate to a higher-level certificate (or vice versa) prior to the completion of the program. There are no additional fees for this option other than the cost of additional courses, and you will only earn one certificate upon completion.
- STARTING A NEW CERTIFICATE: When a student wants to earn more than one certificate by having the courses from their lower-level certificate waived into a higher-level certificate. In this case, an additional $175 registration fee is required.
Who teaches Berklee Online courses?
Berklee faculty and seasoned professionals teach our courses. Our instructors are recognized experts in their respective fields—they’ve produced and engineered hundreds of artists and numerous award-winning projects, and several of their students have gone on to earn GRAMMY Award nominations.
Am I eligible for financial aid?
Financial assistance is available for Berklee Online degree programs. This assistance may come from a variety of sources including federal awards, outside scholarships, and private loans.
Federal financial aid is not available for non-degree programs. Non-degree students typically finance their costs out-of-pocket or with a private loan. Review our payment options.
What happens if I turn in my graduation application late? Do I still need to apply by December 1 even if I don’t want to walk in the Commencement ceremony?
Because we must coordinate with the Boston campus for Commencement, it is essential that students planning to walk in the ceremony submit their graduation application by 12:00 midnight ET on December 1. If you submit your application late, you will need to wait until the following year to walk.
We ask all students planning to graduate within the current academic year to apply for graduation by December 1, regardless of their plans to participate in Commencement. Late application for students who do not wish to walk will result in processing delays for your academic record and diploma, and your name may not be listed in the ceremony program.
What’s the difference between graduating and walking in Commencement?
Great question! Walking in Commencement and graduating are two separate things.
You can walk in Commencement when you are nine (9) credits or less away from completing your degree requirements by the end of the spring term. Please note: Berklee Online degree students are not required to walk in Commencement in Boston.
You graduate when you have met all of the following criteria:
- Attained at least a 2.70 cumulative GPA in concentrate courses
- Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2. 00
- Fulfilled all program requirements AND completed a minimum of 120 credits for a single major or 165 for a dual major
- Completed a minimum of 60 institutional credits for a single major or 105 institutional credits for a dual major
- Fulfilled all financial obligations to the college
Note Walking across the stage in Commencementdoes not
mean that you have graduated. You will not officially graduate and receive your diploma until you meet all of the eligibility requirements.
I just finished my last term at Berklee Online! What happens next? Is there anything I need to do?
Congratulations on finishing! If you have already filled out a graduation application, you will want to double-check the "Graduation Checklist" to ensure you have taken care of all of the various items associated with graduating. If you have not filled out a graduation application, you will need to do that as soon as possible. You will not be able to graduate until we have received and processed your graduation application.
When will I get my diploma?
You will receive your diploma within 6-8 weeks of completing your degree requirements. Please keep in mind that instructors have up to two (2) weeks to submit final grades after the term concludes.
Diplomas are mailed to the address you include on your graduation application. If your mailing address changes after you have submitted your graduation application, be sure to update us at [email protected].
Keep in mind that if you are walking in Commencement, you will not receive your official diploma at the ceremony.
Can I find out how many transfer credits I am eligible for before I apply to the degree program?
If you are interested in applying to the Bachelor of Arts degree program and would like an estimate of the amount of transfer credit you would receive, you can request an unofficial transfer evaluation by emailing a copy of your transcript(s) to the Berklee Online Transfer Team at [email protected]. berklee.edu. Be sure to include your name, major of interest, and any additional questions you may have. You can expect to receive your assessment within 7-10 business days.
I didn’t receive credit on my Official Evaluation for all of the courses that I thought I would. What should I do?
The earlier you contact us with questions or concerns regarding your evaluation, the easier it will be for us to address any issues. Therefore, it is very important when you first receive your official transfer evaluation that you review the information carefully.
If you notice a remaining requirement that you believe you’ve already fulfilled, first consult our document on Common Reasons Credit Does Not Transfer. It’s possible that the course you are thinking of didn’t meet our eligibility requirements.
If none of those exclusions apply, please fill out a Transfer Credit Equivalency Re-evaluation form for the courses you wish to have reconsidered.
Sometimes, we are not able to locate specific information for a course online and we are not able to determine an equivalency, but we are always happy to review additional material which will help us make that determination.
Do my Berklee Online, Berklee campus, or Prior Learning Credit coursework count towards the 60 transfer credit limit?
No, credits completed at Berklee or through the prior learning process do not count towards the 60 transfer credit limit. This maximum is for credit-bearing exams and undergraduate-level coursework completed externally.
What is a credit deficiency and why do I need to make up credit?
Credit deficiencies are caused by transferring a course that is less than three (3) credits to fulfill a three (3) credit Berklee Online requirement. Students with a credit deficiency will be short of the minimum number of credits required to graduate once they have completed their program requirements. In order to be eligible to graduate, you will need to make up the credits you are deficient in.
While the Transfer Team does their best to avoid giving students credit deficiencies, it is not always possible. You can make up the credits you are deficient in by completing additional Berklee Online coursework, by applying for prior learning credit, or by completing additional external coursework in the area in which you are deficient.
Note all external courses will first need to be approved by the Transfer Team.
Can transfer credit fulfill prerequisites?
It depends. Generally, transfer credit cannot be used to fulfill prerequisites unless we determine that the course you completed is a direct equivalent to one of the courses we offer at Berklee Online. Keep in mind that there are some courses which require you to pass a placement exam. For these you will need to achieve a passing grade on the test to fulfill the prerequisite, otherwise you will need to complete the appropriate Berklee Online course.
Can I transfer credits to Berklee Online after I have started the degree program?
Yes, you can. To determine if the coursework you already completed or are considering taking is eligible to fulfill your remaining degree requirements, contact the Transfer Team at [email protected].
I am a Berklee campus student. Can I transfer courses from Berklee Online to my campus-based program?
View a list of transferable courses to Berklee’s campus programs.
For additional questions about transferring courses from Berklee Online to Berklee's campus programs please contact the campus transcript evaluator at [email protected].
Are Berklee Online courses transferable to other institutions?
Berklee Online is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), the same association that accredits our main campus and other leading academic institutions such as Harvard University and MIT. Our courses are transferable to other institutions, but it's up to the receiving institution to decide the number and types of courses that may transfer. We recommend getting a course pre-approved by an institution before enrolling.
How do Berklee Online’s costs compare to other education options?
Berklee Online’s programs have a tuition cost that is approximately 64 percent less than on-campus tuition at Berklee’s Boston campus. Moreover, a recent study revealed that the average annual tuition at for-profit colleges is more than twice as expensive as Berklee Online. Even average annual tuition at other accredited non-profit online universities is roughly $11,000 more expensive than tuition for a year with Berklee Online!
How much does a certificate program cost?
There is a one time $175 registration fee per certificate program. Students may either pay per course term (at the $1,515 per credit course cost) or pay in full to receive a 10 percent discount. The registration fee and all courses for the term you wish to begin in must be paid in full in order to begin.
How much does an online Bachelor’s degree cost?
Online undergraduate degree tuition is $59,160 for 120 credits for all majors except the guitar major. Tuition for the guitar major is $63,660. Students taking 10 courses per year can complete the degree in four years at a cost of $14,790 per year. (Note: Tuition and fees are subject to change.)
How much does an online master's degree cost?
Online graduate degree tuition is $33,120 for 36 credits. The Master of Music in Music Production and Master of Arts in Music Business programs are designed to be completed in one year of study. Both programs are comprised of 12 three-credit courses that can be taken during four 12-week semesters.
What is included in the cost of a course?
The cost for an individual course includes the tuition fee. The cost of required books, hardware or software must be purchased separately, unless it is stated that these costs are included with your enrollment. Some courses may include additional fees for files or content.
How Do You Even Become A Backup Dancer?
Mark and Donald Romain are twin backup dancers from Los Angeles who have worked with artists like Britney Spears, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry, just to name a few. They talked with BuzzFeed about how to break into the field, what NOT to do on set, and dancing with the stars.
How many years of training or schooling did you do before breaking into the professional world? What's the typical amount of preparation for backup dancers before they start out with their careers?
MR: Everybody's path to breaking into the professional world of entertainment is different. I personally have no training. I learned on dance teams in college and on the job. You have to work your craft. Like going to the gym to maintain your strength, you have to work out your creative muscles and skills regularly. I see kids barely up to my knees that are training like beasts and adults who have had no formal training move to L.A. to work, so it varies. Although I had no formal training, I had performed on stage many times with my team. There is a big difference between doing well in dance class and being able to perform on a stage; it's important to get performance experience. If you start late, that's okay, but train, train, train.
DR: I had been dancing for about four and a half years when I signed with my first agency. The typical amount of time of preparation that it takes to prepare to be a backup dance varies with each dancer. Some people train their whole lives, but there are also dancers who move here in their early twenties to pursue it. Once you get signed, it's still an uphill battle to book your first job and get noticed.
What is the audition process like?
DR: There are two different types of auditions — open calls and private. I've been to open calls where you are auditioning against 300 other guys for just a few spots; they can last multiple days with each reaching 8-10 hours. When calls are that big, they usually don't even take your resume or headshot until after the first cut. The choreographer or his/her assistant will break you into groups. Once in your group, you say your name, your agency, your height, and then you dance. Most times you do the routine twice with a freestyle at the end of the second time and they make cuts from there until they decide who they want.
For private calls, the amount of dancers is much smaller. These auditions are usually no more than a few hours. It's hard when you're first starting out; you don't get invited to private calls because people don't know who you are. When I first got to L.A. and started auditioning, it was a very intimidating process. It's been a couple years now, though, and so going to auditions is fun because, at this point, I see the same guys at the auditions. Auditions are very competitive; there are a lot of amazing dancers here in L.A. When it comes to the energy between everyone, it doesn't feel competitive, though. Everyone is very supportive of each other, and when a dancer kills at an audition, everyone cheers.
MR: Not all jobs come from auditions, though! This is why it's important to establish relationships with other dancers and choreographers, to take classes, to have good relationships with your agent, and for people to know who you are. A lot of jobs come from direct bookings or referrals. People can smell a networker a mile away though so the best thing is to do your job, do it well, and make friends.
When do you feel you first really broke into the business?
DR: The first job we booked a job for a major artist, it was for Katy Perry at the American Music Awards. I remember walking into the warehouse for rehearsal and seeing the stairs set up and mirrors placed at the front of the space and it looked just like MTV Making the Video to me. I grew up watching that show and watching behind the scenes footage of Janet and her dancers rehearsing in a similar space and I just couldn't believe I was getting to experience this. When the music started at the show and I was prepped ready to go I had a nauseous feeling in my stomach from excitement and I knew that dancing was a career I wanted.
MR: I remember thinking, I'm actually getting to be a backup dancer. After that I was doing a hand double job on a Rihanna commercial and literally, that was it. We spent 10 hours on set, got suited up in tuxes and then just used our hands, but I felt so grateful that I was making money on a professional set. That in itself is a huge blessing in this industry.
View this video on YouTubeyoutube.com
Performing in the video for "Till The World Ends."
What advice would you give to dancers looking to break into the industry?
DR: The more you can do, the more you can be used for jobs. Also, maintain a great relationship with your agency. Who knows better what choreographers are looking for and booking than your agent? Listen to what they have to say and be proactive about helping them help you. Stay in the gym and in great shape, have great head shots, take classes and meet people and, most importantly, have a great attitude. The hours in the industry are long and the work is hard, no one wants to work with someone who is difficult and doesn't contribute to a positive working environment.
MR:There are some dancers that show up in L.A. and book consistently right away. That's not how it happened for me, you have to be persistent and be willing to grow and learn once you get here. Be willing to do things just to meet people and get yourself out there at first. A great way to get the agent you want besides auditioning is to book a great job and go to that agency and say "Hey, I'm booked on this great job and I'm really interested in being represented by you". But remember, a "great" agency may not be the best for you. Do your research.
What's the most memorable tour or performance you've been a part of?
DR: Being able to perform with Britney Spears. When I was younger, my cousin would play her during our little shows for our family, and Mark and I would be her backup dancers. I saw Britney open for *NSYNC when she had just come out. After that show, I came home and told my grandma that there was a singer who opened the show that I wanted to dance for. As a part of the generation that grew up on her music and such a huge fan, I was overwhelmed by the opportunity to support her on stage. I don't think any experience can compare to dancing on stage and looking to your right and performing next to you is your favorite artist. The second moment that meant a lot to me was doing MTV New Year's Eve with Ke$ha. My senior year of high school, my family took a trip to New York with my best friend. Me, my brother, and my best friend traveled two hours in to Times Square to be on TRL and we actually made it on the show. A couple days later, we came back with my mom for New Year's Eve. Doing New Year's Eve with Ke$ha, we performed in the same studio TRL was taped in, and our dressing room overlooked Times Square and where we stood seven years earlier with my mom. Both were very surreal experiences.
MR: The "Till The World Ends" music video with Britney Spears. I grew up dreaming of being in a major dance music video, and being a part of that was such an incredible experience. I remember seeing the world premiere of "...Baby One More Time" with Donald and following every music video and performance of hers after that. My most recent performance with Ke$ha at a college was also just pure fun. She is a blast to be with onstage.
What are the most rewarding parts of being dancers? And what are your biggest struggles?
MR: One of the most rewarding parts is when you're onstage and you're free. There's no thinking — you just enjoy expressing yourself with your body, and there are exhilarating moments when you connect with people specifically in the audience. The other most rewarding part is taking my family to experience things they don't normally get to. I live backstage, but they don't. To be able to see them see those things gives me a lot of joy. The biggest struggle is trusting is not taking the decisions that the "powers that be" make personally. As Erykah Badu says, you're sensitive about your shit. You have to trust yourself and keep moving on. You have to have a sense of humor.
DR: The most rewarding part of being a dancer is having the opportunity to express yourself through art as your work. There is no feeling that can compare to being on stage and dancing your heart out. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of disappointment. You have to really believe in yourself and be willing to make sacrifices. You sacrifice a lot of your social life and relationships when you dance. Every job I've had I've found out about probably with no more than 48 hours' notice. You always have to be available and it's very hard for friends and family to understand that. While it is rewarding to be able to do something I'm passionate about as a career, at times, it can feel like work. Being around the entertainment industry, it is easy to lose sight of why you've decided to pursue this career in the first place. You have to remember that you are dancing for the love of it, not for the resumé.
How much access to the artists you work with do you have outside of practices? Do you become friendly?
DR: It really depends on the artist. I've worked with artists who I only saw for a little bit during rehearsals and right before we went on stage, but others are extremely friendly and like to hang out during rehearsals with us, go out dancing, and really relate to the people around them as being on the same level. Working with these artists are always the most fun and memorable because you get to see and interact with them in a way most people don't.
What is the biggest faux pas a dancer can make when dealing with a very famous artist?
MR: I would say taking pictures and sharing them during the rehearsal processes, especially early on. The rehearsal space is a sacred place and everybody is learning. What the public sees is a finished and polished product, and the artist shouldn't be worried that you're going to compromise that.
What are your long-term career aspirations as dancers?
DR: I would love to see as much of the world as possible. Artists that I aspire to work with are Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé.
MR: I'd love to go on a world tour, shoot a holiday commercial, or be on any TV show that I watch avidly. I'd love to be onstage with Beyoncé and do the VMAs. All of these goals really are just part of the biggest goal of mine, which is just to continue to grow as an artist and get more work that helps me to do that. I've been studying acting and other creative endeavors, so in 10 years, I could be doing absolutely anything. That's the best thing about the industry — it can legitimately take you anywhere if you keep yourself open to opportunities outside of whatever plans you've made.
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The dancer must:
Be punctual and behave properly
Be friendly to nearby dancers and never allow being inattentive to the current performance Be calm and refrain from commentingwarm-up or rehearsal time in anticipation of one's own or an opponent's performance
Do their best to keep dressing rooms, restrooms and backstage areas clean, and take out the trash in designated areas
Behavior while in public
Treat other dancers and nations with respect, must be restrained from making unnecessary noise and movement during performances
Dancer must be restrained by his fans loud noise generated by the horns, which may disturb the judges, the audience and the performers. However, creating a good atmosphere and supporting the performers is encouraged
Dancers should be aware that they may be disqualified if they throw any object on the stage or interfere with the performers
Behavior outside the venue
· The Dancer must always behave with dignity at the Event, whether at the Event venue or in a hotel or other location. Violation of conduct may result in disqualification and removal from the event
Any act of violence or aggression against those present may result in immediate disqualification and future exclusion from events
Any violation of the laws of the host country may result in immediate disqualification and future exclusion from events
Be a good sports and dance ambassador
Each dancer must always act in a friendly manner towards his rivals
All dancers must act together in such a way as to leave a good memory of the events
IDO Code of Ethics and Conduct for Coaches and Choreographers
All teachers, coaches, captains and choreographers, team representatives further Educators who attend events must behave professionally at all times
They must always act with dignity and demonstrate the behavior of real athletes
Teachers must always respect colleagues present, and refrain from inappropriate and defiant statements towards: both other teachers and dancers
Teachers have the right to request the results of any event, but this must be done directly with the organizer, observer or chief referee. Having thus solved this issue, the Teacher will avoid unnecessary fuss in the future. Further questions about such a decision must be submitted in writing to the Disciplinary Committee for review.
· Under no circumstances may educators bribe, threaten or intimidate the organizer or officials. Performing such an act will cause the event to be instantly deleted and subsequently sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee.
· Teachers are not allowed to ask questions of the judges about their marks and the criteria they used when judging dancers
· Explanations, giving instructions to dancers by a coach or assistant during a performance is strictly prohibited and may lead to disqualification of dancers. This rule applies to all disciplines
Educators must ensure that all dancers participating in events are aware of the Code of Conduct for Dancers set out in these Rules
Educators must be confident that their dancers will behave well in the venue competition, and outside of it, for example in a hotel or restaurant
Educators should ensure that their dancers treat other dancers with respect and that they do not distract performing participants, whether in the audience, preparing for the entrance or being in the hall where the competition takes place
Educators must ensure that their dancers are ready to go on time
Educators must ensure that their final dancers are present at the award ceremony and conduct themselves in a graceful and dignified manner
Educators are required to ensure compliance the general schedule of the event and prepare the dancers 30 minutes before the start of the performances.
· Educators should do their best to ensure that dancers keep the locker rooms, toilets and backstage clean, and that the resulting garbage is taken out to the designated places.
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Danced backstage | Youth information and entertainment magazine
The hall is already trembling and waiting, but it is still quite light. Through the brilliance that slips through the crystal of a huge chandelier, one can see the restrained smile of an old lady sitting in the front rows; the stern profile of a man looking at his watch; the running glance of a curious child who wants to examine every detail of the interior and point to it with his finger. All of them are waiting for the art that is about to step onto the stage.
Nothing more than a performance, you say. No less than life, I answer. Have you ever wondered what is behind the curtain at this moment? What happens to the dancers 5 minutes before going on stage? How is performance born?
I have been living this for only 12 years, but still I can allow not only as an observer, but also as a person who is in his natural environment, to lead you up the stairs leading to long corridors, the dressing room, to acquaint you with the usual backstage bustle and of course with wonderful people in whom creativity lives.
The idea of a performance is always connected with the dancers and their perception of the world. These are not just fictional dance fragments, but stories passed through the body and feelings of choreographers and artists. Before the performance begins to take on the features of the living, it is dressed in words, emotions, feelings. And only after - in motion.
Dance is always a process. It cannot be cyclical, and, therefore, it is presented differently each time: with a different body curve, with a different jump height, arm line, with a different look and shine. However, always sincerely. This is the purest art, which is pleasant to dive into, feeling the ripples on the skin.
Of course, this is not lightness and carelessness, as it seems to many, but real work. But work in a different perspective: it is something like a merger into one wave of physical and sensual, spatial and temporal. Yes, it is harder and deeper than labor! At one of the master classes, the famous contemporary dance choreographer Leonid Glukhov said: “Why are you plowing? We need to dance, not work! We're not in a factory. " Dance = feel. Feel the atmosphere of the hall, music, voice. Fill up and pour energy within yourself. This is what it means to work. It means to dance.
Scene time. Waiting time. When you, the audience, so enthusiastically and calmly fill the hall, excitement and fuss increase behind the scenes. The curtain hides the shimmering silhouettes scattered across and beyond the stage. Glitter scatters in the dressing rooms, the hems of dresses rustle. A large door with red letters "STAGE ENTRANCE" lets in endless drafts.
Be careful when passing corridors with sharp turns. They keep their deceit for all gaping townsfolk. Cold. Trembling. Delight. Hush hush! A cozy spectator has already settled down there, ready to join the general music of applause.
And suddenly - twilight. Almost by touch, the dancer enters the stage, blinded by the harsh light of the spotlight. He bites into the eyes, but you need to take a breath and start dancing to the jumping notes and the restless beating of the heart.