The Elements of a Résumé

Donít play for safety—
itís the most dangerous thing
in the world.
Hugh Walpole

Headings

It is helpful to organize your career information into groups, each under a heading such as: Objective, Career Highlights or Summary of Qualifications, Professional Experience or Experience, and Dance Education or Training. This will make your résumé more readable and allow you to show off your most important accomplishments in a fashion both professional and tasteful.

Objective Heading

Some résumés include a section labeled "Objective" or "Career Goal". One of the most common debates about résumés is whether or not to include an objective section. Some people use this heading and others do not. Itís a matter of style. Here is a chance to clearly indicate your intentions.

Career Highlights Heading

The next heading is the Career Highlights or Summary of Qualifications section. This is an opportunity to boldly state the best of your career, your most shining moments, right at the top of your résumé, regardless of whether they happened yesterday or seven years ago. When this section is omitted and a strictly chronological format is used, important information can get buried under years of other, less impressive, experience. Avoid simply listing your featured roles in a boring fashion.

Boring:
Appeared in Mark Martinís Hail Storm.

Better:
Was selected by Mark Martin to be first cast in the premier performance of his critically acclaimed Hail Storm for the Los Angeles Ballet.

Boring:
Worked for Linda Simmer in her Choreographic Experience.

Better:
Worked with Linda Simmer to create a solo and duet for her Eight Plus One, in addition to being responsible to understudy three other roles in the same ballet.

It is up to you to see your experience objectively and describe it in a compelling fashion. Do not lie, but donít sell yourself short either. In a résumé it is sometimes difficult to tell where humility stops and egotism begins, but being modest can leave you on the outside looking in. There is a fine line between selling yourself and boasting. Choreographers and directors donít want trouble from pushy prima donnas so outright bragging is not good policy. However, make an effort to see your accomplishments objectively, then write a résumé which states your experience and level confidently and with dignity.

Professional Experience Heading

The next section on your résumé is the experience section where you list the companies youíve worked for and some of the roles youíve danced. You can enliven this area as well.

Boring:


The Great Gatsby		Daisy		J. Hoover

Cinderella			Cinderella	R. Robins

Taming of the Shrew		Pas de six	J. Hanko

Nutcracker			Snow Queen	B. Houston

				Flower

				Soldier

				Parent

Symphony in B			Demi-soloist	G. Blanch

				Corps

Better:
Featured as a soloist by Imre Dovella in a variety of principal roles, which include: Daisy in A. Hooverís The Great Gatsby, Cinderella in R. Robinís production of Cinderella, Snow Queen in Ben Houstonís Nutcracker, first movement demi-soloist in George Blanchís Symphony in B, and many other roles choreographed by Mr. Dovella.

If, for some reason (perhaps a grant application), you must list every role you ever danced, and insist on doing so in a cold, methodical manner, the title of the work is in italics, the name of the choreographer follows in parenthesis (first name or initial can be given to add clarity), and the role is next, such as:

Fez Ballet 1986-1989
Swan Lake (Petipa) Odette
Fathom of a Heart (Wolf) Blue couple
Holding On (Holdin) Soloist
Ya Ka Bimmbo (Washington) Pas de deux
Fall River Legend (De Mille) Lizzy

Freemont Ballet 1989-1996
What To Do Till The

Train Comes Back
to Houston
(Lopez) Messiah

Who Killed Bobby More?(Zimmerman) The Agent

Note: Your web browser might change the format, so read the above paragraph carefully.

Dance Training Heading

A section for education follows the experience section. Here it is also more impressive if you do more than just list your schools or teachers.

Boring:
Alabama School of Fine Arts
Lorna Fordyce Dance Studio
Better:
Attended and graduated from Alabama School of Fine Arts. Passed all the required dance and musical training exams. Received intensive technique training from Lorna Fordyce in San Francisco.

Boring:
Grinko Winnie, Carl Mononi, Sandy Eppenheimer, Otis Thomson, and Uggie Johnson.

Better:
Trained in classical ballet by former NYBT II ballet mistress Grinko Winnie and renowned Italian teacher Carl Mononi. Introduced to modern technique by Sandy Eppenheimer and Otis Thomson, and studied composition from choreographer Uggie Johnson.

Now itís your turn!

Objective

Decide if you are going to use an objective or career goal heading on your résumé. Phrase your objective specifically as possible. Study the sample résumés ideas.

Career Highlights or Summary of Qualifications

Pick one of the following headings to highlight up to three of your most important experiences:


1.	Career Highlights

2.	Summary of Qualifications

3.	Featured Roles

4.	Outstanding Achievements

5.	Experience

6.	Summary of Experience

Write a compelling and honest paragraph for each of your highlights.

Experience and Education

Study the sample résumés in the back of this book. On a separate piece of paper, write your experience and education section. Use one or two words from the magic list.

Remember a résumé is intended to summarize a dancerís education and experience, and to be submitted in application for a job. What you leave off your résumé is just as important as what you include. Your dance résumé should quickly provide the information necessary for the director to understand how you might potentially fit on his or her stage. It should logically build upon and support itself to create the impression of intelligence, and imply that you know this profession very well and are committed to dancing your best.

Destiny is not
a matter of chance,
it is a matter of choice;
it is not a thing to be waited for,
it is a thing
to be achieved.
WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN


Complete list of
other wolfram writing | Notice of Copyright