How to Create a Dance Reel

Hello loves! Today is day 25 (maybe?) of quarantine for me, and as I sit here and work on my application materials for graduate school, I realized I had to update my dance reel. Since interviews and auditions are now going to be virtual, I may be able to have my digital audition waived if I send them my updated dance reel. That being said, I haven’t touched my dance reel since late 2017 or early 2018. Two years has brought with it a ton of performance opportunity, rehearsal, and corresponding footage to add to my reel.

My brother used to have Adobe Premier Pro, which I used to create my dance reel the first few times in 2016 and 2017. If you have access to Adobe Premier Pro, I HIGHLY suggest you use that software. It is one of the best video editing softwares I’ve ever used. However, any software that can handle large files will do. Your reel doesn’t need a lot of effects or complicated edits.

Right now, my brother only has access to Adobe Premier Rush, which is a basic editing version of Premiere Pro. As I adjust to using a not-as-fancy software, I wanted to share with you that you can still use basic softwares to create a professional reel.

Bound” Borne Dance Company
The Secret Theater NYC

Here are my tips for creating a kick-ass dance reel!

  1. Choose a theme for your reel. If you need a reel for a teaching position, you want the reel to include class videos of you instructing, your choreography, you demonstrating in class, and giving students corrections. If you need a reel to audition for a role on Broadway, you want to showcase your more commercial styles of dance – jazz, tap, theater – and maybe include footage of you dancing in dance heels or other footwear you might be expected to wear if you were to land the gig. If you are a contemporary dancer and want to audition for a contemporary group, you would want to include footage of you dancing modern/contemporary styles, some improvisation footage, and maybe partnering. You can make multiple reels, and a lot of dancers do this to keep them all separate and concise. Determine your desired job, and then create from there.
  2. Access decent video editing software. As mentioned above, you don’t need software with a bunch of fancy tools. Adobe Premier Pro is wonderful because you can add arrows to your clips to indicate where you are on stage if the footage is of you in a group. With Adobe Premiere Rush, I am not able to add arrows. But instead, I chose clips where I am clearly in the shot and that is clear I am the person dancing. I also can add titles to the clip to explain the name of the piece, what group I was performing with, and the theater I was dancing in.
  3. Choose clips that are clear and showcase your best technique. I cannot stress this enough – but chose clips in a high resolution, where your form, face, and shape are discernible from the background/other dancers. You want to keep the clips short, and you don’t want the director taking each 5-15 second clip just to figure out where you are in the shot.
  4. Choose short clips. See above! You want to be distinguished from the rest of the shot, and you do not want the clips to be so long that the director or viewer become bored. You don’t need to showcase all 45 min of your favorite performance. Your favorite moment or moments will do just fine!
  5. Mute the audio on all video clips. You want to choose one audio track for the entire reel. Multiple audio tracks cutting in and out from clip to clip is distracting and looks unprofessional. Mute everything, and choose the right track to put over it!
  6. Choose engaging audio! You do not want to choose a very popular track (such as a song on the radio). Think of your reel and what fits best with what you are showcasing. Instrumentals are a great place to start for any type of reel. You want something dynamic and engaging, but not overpowering where it distracts from the footage. Also, keep songs appropriate. If your audio of choice does include lyrics, make sure it’s a clean track with no offensive lyrics.
  7. Transitions between clips should be simple. A classic “Cross fade” transition is very useful for reels. Its clean, and lets the videos flow organically into one another. Plus, almost every video editing software no matter how basic has this option. Keep the transitions consistent throughout the video if you can (use just one), and avoid any glaring transitions that distract from the clips.
  8. Keep your length short! The entire reel show not exceed three and a half (3.5) minutes. A five minute dance reel is just way too long for an individual. This is why it is good to make separate reels for separate jobs. Additionally, a choreographer or director will know how you move about a minute into your reel. Anything longer than 3.5 minutes they might not even look at.
PC: Dovitsky NYC
Bound” Borne Dance Company

Hopefully you found these tips helpful! As you create your reel, also make sure your personality shines through. You can choose text font styles, colors, etc. that you like. Just remember, keep those choices consistent throughout, and make sure they are not distracting from what is happening on screen. I will hopefully be finishing my new reel soon, and I will post the final version into a post on here once I am done.

Thank you for reading, and if you are taking this quarantine time to catch up on needed reel updates, I wish you well in your creations!

xoxo

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