How To Write a Performance Resume That Will Steal the Show

Preparing for an audition? 

See your dream company post a call for artists?

It’s time to make your dream come true — and writing a performing arts resume is the first step. 

But where do you start? How do you craft a performance resume that will showcase your talent and capture the attention of just the right people?

We can help.

Keep reading to learn how to write a performance resume that will get you noticed. 

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Table of Contents

5 Elements To Include on Your Performance Resume for Dance and Other Performing Arts

#1: Personal Summary

Create a concise summary statement for the top of your performance resume that outlines the following details: 

  • Your areas of expertise
  • Your most valuable skills; and 
  • A general sense of your career

In arts-related work, each opportunity is unique. You can make minor tweaks to this section of your resume to highlight the things that align with the exact performance or role you are seeking.

#2: Objective in Seeking This Role

Working in the performing arts is anything but straightforward. Your objective is highly customizable and can either be very specific to the role or more general.

Maybe you are:

  • Seeking this very specific role
  • Seeking paid project-based work
  • Seeking ongoing work for a professional company; or
  • Seeking collaboration

If you know what you want, say it. 

You could include something like “I have admired the athleticism and artistry of XYZ company for years and it would be a dream to work with Artistic Director Mia Selina.”

Something more general may include the type of work you are seeking. If you have a full or part-time job, are a parent, or have other obligations that only leave you available for project-based work, be clear about your limited availability. If you won’t consider anything that isn’t paid, be clear on that, too. Some examples are:

  1. “I am a freelance artist seeking paid project-based work.” or
  2. “My ultimate goal is to work for a company with regular performances throughout the year.”

a performance resume

#3: Professional Experience

The next thing you’ll want to add to your performance resume is the details of the performing arts jobs you’ve previously held, including your work history and roles.

Be sure to include the:

  • Company’s name
  • Position you held; and 
  • Dates you were employed

Then use this list to make another list of your responsibilities and successes at each job, in relation to the needs expressed in the job description, such as: 

  • Ballet dancer, San Francisco Ballet, January 2019 – Present
    • Performed in 12 live productions, including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo and Juliet.
    • Spends over 40 hours in the studio weekly, practicing technique, choreography, and training.
    • Acted as rehearsal director for Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty
  • Lead actor, Gilded Films, March 2018 – December 2018
    • Performed as the lead actor for director Nick Acosta’s new film, Under the Bridge.
    • Completed rigorous training to learn how to ice skate, which was crucial to my character’s backstory.
  • Modern dancer, Brigitte LeBlanc Dance Company, July 2016 – February 2018
    • Performed in six live productions, including Appalachian Spring, Three Dubious Memories, Esplanade, To Make Crops Grow, Push Comes to Shove, and Perpetual Dawn.
    • Attended daily practices to refine technique and learn choreography.

#4: Performance Skills

Next, make a list of your top performing arts skills and make sure that they apply to the job description. You might include skills such as: 

  • Modern (influenced by Graham and Cunningham technique)
  • Ballet (classical)
  • Improvisation
  • Dramatic Acting
  • Dance instruction

#5: Education and Training

Of course, you’ll want to list your training and education on your performance resume. All training counts whether it’s from a formal academic institution or your local studio. If you are later in your career and the list would be too extensive, you may just add the highlights.

Include the: 

  • Name of your school or studio
  • Dates of enrollment 
  • Major (if applicable); and 
  • Year you got (or will get) your degree or diploma (if applicable)

It might look something like this:

  • Dance Well Studios, 2000 – 2014, classes 3 days per week plus annual performances directed by renowned choreographer Lisa Deer
  • The Juilliard School, September 2014 – May 2018, B.F.A., Dance
  • The Art Institute of Portland, September 2018 – May 2022, B.A., Drama

And if you have experience working under a certain choreographer, director, or conductor, be sure to include the details for it, as well.

5 Tips for Creating a Stand-Out Performance Resume

#1: Understand the Role You’re Seeking

Before you create your resume, take a few minutes to carefully read through any information available to learn more about the role you’re applying to. 

Spend time doing a little research about the director or production company. Learn as much as you can as possible about the previous projects they have worked on or produced. 

Not only can this give you leverage when creating your resume, but it can also give you some talking points when you are called to audition and interview.

Follow directions carefully. This step matters!

a performance resume

#2: Focus on Point of View

As you are thinking about how to write your performing arts resume, consider the point of view of someone who has never heard about the things you are talking about.

Imagine that they aren’t familiar with the school where you trained, the dance company you worked with, or the choreographer you studied under. 

Don’t be afraid to include descriptions of your experiences and influences to draw the reader in. 

#3: Highlight Your Accomplishments

Don’t be bashful when it comes to sharing about the amazing things you’ve done! 

For many artists, they piece together many things, instead of staying with one company for an extended block of time. When you start adding up the multitude of jobs you’ve had in a given year, your resume can get really long! One of our favorite tricks to prevent your greatest accomplishments from getting lost in a chronological list is to have a Career Highlights section at the top of your resume. 

Let’s say you won a prestigious award early in your career or danced for a choreographer whose style is similar to the company you are seeking to work with currently. You wouldn’t want those buried. 

Adding your most noteworthy career highlights to the top of your resume can help put them in the spotlight, right where they (and you) belong.

#4: Make Your Resume Stand Out

As you’re considering how to write a performance resume, try to find ways you can make yours stand out from the crowd. Don’t hesitate to …

  • Find a sample of a resume you love and copy the formatting
  • Use a design tool like Canva to add color or break the sections up visually

… or whatever you need to do to set your resume apart from the competition and let the world know what you have to offer. 

Remember, your resume is telling a story, and you get to choose how your story is told.

#5: Have Someone Review Before You Submit

It’s always a good idea to get your resume in front of a second (or even third) pair of eyes. Ask someone you trust to spend time reviewing your resume and give you honest feedback. 

Receiving and applying feedback is a key component of becoming a professional dancer

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to submit your resume – one step closer to your dream role! 

Dance Wire: Helping You Dance Your Way to a Thriving Career

Dance Wire is a non-profit organization in Portland that exists to create a hub and a resource for the Portland dance community through:

  • 1:1 Consulting/Mentoring
  • Networking
  • An opportunity and job board
  • A calendar showing upcoming auditions
  • An annual Citywide Dance Connector event
  • And more

Dance Wire is your go-to community to find classes (for all forms of dance) that match your experience level as a dancer or to learn more about the amazing and varied world of dance in Portland. 

Join Dance Wire today and find your community of fellow dancers.

a performance resume