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Navigating your entry into becoming a professional dancer with Lauran Jervis

By June 6, 2019No Comments
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Get perspective and answers from Lauran, who has undertaken this daunting make or break career move and has skyrocketed to become one of Australia’s top commercial talents.

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Here at Ausdance WA we often get queries from dancers wanting to break into the commercial market.

We decided to turn to a young successful dancer to give her unique perspective and shed some light on this daunting process. 

For those that do not know Lauran Jervis, she has been making incredible strides in the commercial world and hitting those career goals!! 

Lauran started her dancing career at the tender age of 3 with the John Cleary Dance Company in Joondalup. Training in jazz, musical theatre, tap and ballet, Lauran was the classic ‘comp kid’ throughout her childhood and teen years.

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As an adult performer, Lauran has had many opportunities in Perth including Style Aid, Telethon, Dance Week and even as a showgirl for Crown Casino. Internationally Lauran has performed as a lead dancer and host in multiple stage shows in Singapore and Bangkok. Most recently Lauran has just returned to Australia after a whirlwind teaching tour of the UK with Dancer/Choreographer Nick Geurts where they ran masterclasses across the country.

We sat down with Lauran to get the down-low on her career, experiences and advice for all the aspiring commercial dancers out there!!!

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Did you have that light-bulb moment when you knew you wanted to be a professional dancer?
Yes for sure! It was in 2012 when I auditioned for the Moulin Rogue when they came to Perth. It was the first time I felt like I had a place in the professional dance world, my height (I’m 5’10”) and technical jazz/ballet training was just what they were looking for and I made it all the way through to the end. I had just turned 17 and was so inspired by everything I experienced in that audition room, although I was too young to accept the contract I knew that being a professional dancer all over the world was my dream.

How did you transition to being paid for your work?
For me it was actually through a dance school I had been training with that I first began booking paid performances. The school worked with a Perth entertainment agency and would book the senior students for group performances at events like the Perth Cup, and for the Perth Glory Cheerleaders. I started working at performances like this when I was 16, and it was a great opportunity for me to learn from older dancers and get some paid performance experience under my belt. I think aligning with a school that offers some performance opportunities is a great way to start moving into establishing yourself as a paid professional. 

In Perth, who has given you the greatest support and guidance to navigate the professional world? 
I credit Janelle Vaccaro for being my greatest support and mentor in my professional journey. Janelle stepped in while I was training with a dance school in Joondalup, I was very much a ‘classic jazz’ dancer at this time but she saw potential for me to grow in the showgirl and commercial dance world. I began taking Janelle’s open classes at King Street Arts Centre (KSAC) where she used me as the feature dancer for music videos, promotional shoots, and also as dance captain for live performances during Dance Week in 2014 – 16. J is a true gift to the Perth dance community and she has a wealth of knowledge to share about navigating the professional dance world in Australia and beyond. Janelle now runs her KSAC classes under her creative agency ‘The Arthaus Group’. 

I’d also love to mention Deby Holmes as she was a fabulous support in my developmental years. She is a former Radio City Rockette and is a great mentor for dancers who want to book cruise ship contracts or break into the musical theatre scene. 

What are the key steps you have used to get your foot in the door and land that audition?
Because I have worked for quite a while now, I’ve been able to skip the normal audition process and be booked directly for a lot of jobs. Saying that, I’ve been to plenty of auditions in the past and I’m sure I’ll be auditioning in the very near future!

To actually land an audition, I would say stay connected to the dance community on all platforms. Make sure you’re signed up to any online resources, follow social media accounts of casting agents or entertainment companies, always keep your finger on the pulse of the working dance scene. These days that also includes showing up to classes, and making sure that your own social media accounts are a good representation of your work. 

In this industry your work speaks for itself, so ensure that you work hard in class and on any jobs that you do. Building a great reputation takes time but will ensure that you are ‘thought of’ when auditions do the rounds or for direct bookings. 

Once you’re actually in the room, I think the best things you can do to have a successful audition is to be prepared and to enjoy the process. No matter what it is you’re auditioning for, make sure you read and understand the brief, and spend some time researching the show or company that you’re auditioning for.  

Make sure that what you wear to audition matches the aesthetic of the job and you’re already on your way to winning the panel over. It shows that you understand the style of the show and have done your homework. I always like to come with a few different clothing and shoe options, I’ve had heels break, girls who look just like me wearing the same outfit, or I’ve missed the mark entirely! It really helps to have back ups just in case. 

Keep your CV up to date and have a headshot that looks like you! A high-quality natural headshot will ensure that the directors know who they’re looking at and will remember you after you’ve left the audition room.  

Lastly and most importantly, enjoy the audition process! Once you’re in that audition room there is really nothing more you can do to prepare, so take the pressure off and enjoy the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and to do what you love.  

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 As a Perth dancer, what should I be taking advantage of in my city? 
I think Perth dancers should make the most of the world class technical training on offer. We may be isolated which I know can be frustrating for those wanting to go professional, but there are so many studios around offering top notch training. 

Keep up your ballet training, Nicki Roland was my ballet teacher growing up and she is wonderful for developing technique and conditioning. 

The Arthaus Group offer really fresh and friendly open commercial classes at KSAC in the CBD, plus Janelle has regular performance opportunities for those with a career focus in commercial dance. 

Deby Holmes teaches regularly at The Dance Workshop in North Perth and also runs workshops for her company Krave Perth Dance Agency. If musical theatre or classic jazz is your thing, Deby is your go-to. 

Always try and take advantage of masterclasses with touring dance professionals, and go to auditions when they’re in town! We don’t get a lot of big auditions coming to Perth, so make it worth their while for coming all this way and take advantage of having so much more room to stand out and showcase yourself than any of the other Australian cities!

How do you get an agent?
Getting an agent in Australia is a little different to other places in the world. If we’re talking a typical agency experience in the international industry, I would say you need to build up a strong performance resume in the meantime and do your best to ‘be seen’ by working professional choreographers and directors. Making a good impression in masterclasses or training intensives can help in getting your foot in the door with agencies. I’ve booked many jobs just by being ‘seen’ by the right people on the right job or in the right class.  

Some agencies offer open call auditions, so if agency representation is what you’re looking for be sure to attend all of these. You can also email your CV, photos and dance reel to agencies and express your interest in representation. 

What gave you the confidence to take that risk and try your luck overseas? 
Knowing deep down that being a top professional dancer was my ultimate goal definitely got me through my nerves and doubts. I figured if I never tried I’d never know if I could make it, and I’m just so glad that I set aside any fears and gave myself the opportunity to discover that I could do it.

What is the highlight of your career to date? 
The highlight of my career to date would have to performing for major brands like Adidas, L’Oreal, Redken and BVLGARI right here in Australia. Being a part of these huge fashion shows and events in my home country was really special. Its rare for dancers here to have the opportunity to perform in something of this scale in Australia, and working with the international creative directors and artists to create the shows was a real honour.  

I’ve had amazing opportunities overseas as a lead dancer, dance captain, assistant choreographer, host, and even as a magic assistant! I think there is always something special about working with global brands and shows that have toured the world in my home country. 

Thanks Lauran for taking the time to share your story with us!! 

Follow Lauran and her journey through the following links:

Instagram: @lauran.jervis 

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