@ Zoo Riot London Dance Co.

Overstretched and Underpaid: Improving your finances as a dance professional

December 31, 2016



Unless you’re running around like a headless chicken from job to job, worried about making it to the end of the month, you haven’t had the authentic dance professional experience yet. We all have to go through to really appreciate “the climb” of our careers. But this “phase” should not turn into normality. Here are 10 ways you can make 2017 more fruitful and relaxing.

Know when to say NO

Sometimes the industry can make us feel like we owe our employers. You take a job because it’s good for “exposure”. In 10 years of managing dancers and fitness professionals, I can tell you one thing for sure: 3-5 good jobs on your CV is more than enough street cred with clients. You don’t need more. Next time you’re offered low paid work for “exposure” know that the only thing you’ll be missing out on is energy and potential earnings. PLUS you’re contributing to the vicious circle of under-cutting, under-paying in our industry. Don’t let the FOMO tempt you, unless, of course you really want to take the job for shits and giggles.


Work smart
You take the job because it’s regular work. But dancing and teaching is hard work: don’t undersell yourself for the sake of hard work. Go for QUANTITY rather than volume. For example: 6 hours of teaching 1hr with 1.5 hours commute and 30min to get ready means that every hour really takes 3 hours of work. More clients / jobs also multiplies the amount of admin and chasing, so having “lots of work” can be a curse rather than a blessing. Spring-clean your low-yielding activities to give you more time to look for high-yielding jobs. Remember the Pareto rule: 20% of the input creates 80% of the result. In our terms, 20% of your activities are really useful to your cashflow and your career. The other 80% of your time is spent doing things that have almost no value at all…. Work SMART!


Get appy!
If you’re wondering “where is all my money going”!? About five times a day, there’s an easy fix for this one and it takes minimal headache. There are a few apps out there that SECURELY sync into your bank feed and help you analyse and budget what you spend your money on. You need absolutely no techy / financial understanding to work this and it’s an absolute godsend. The app OnTrees by MoneySupermarket syncs with most banks all over the world and probably the most useful app I started using in 2016.


Cashflow management
As a dancer, you’re probably more concerned about the status of your pirouette than you are about your P&L (ie your profit and loss projection document). And THAT’s why you’ve chosen a career in dance, rather than in an accountant’s office. Yet every month, you’re complaining that you’re poor. 


Avoid the tax panic 
You’re probably asking yourself: how much will I need to pay? How can I keep track of all my expenses? HOW DO I DO THIS? Whether you’re in the UK, US or Australia, the Tax-Panic plagues us all. No one wants to be caught by surprise and see all their savings fly away to the tax man because we’ve been too lazy / terrified to do this during the year. The best move to make as a freelancer is the move from spreadsheets / paper diary / box of receipts to using accountancy software. And before you click away at the sight of such horrific words, read below. You’ll be grateful you did.


Start using an accountancy software
Accountancy software sounds tedious and the furtherest thing you should be getting excited about. WELL, as a former bookkeepingophobe, let me tell you HOW WRONG YOU ARE! Accountancy softwares could be the puzzle missing from your life. The last piece to give sense to your world. And after taking a few days to get your head around how it all works, this nifty tool can: keep track and chase your invoices, keep track of bills / expenses you know are coming up, sync to your bank account (no more typing in transactions, hooray!), tell you how much your tax projections are at the click of a button. Now before you start googling: “Accountancy Software” out there and get a headache, we’ve done the hard work for you. The best 2 pieces of software that are dancer / fit pro friendly (out of about 25 we’ve tested) are:


  • XERO (basic, straight-forward) 

  • FreeAgent (a few more options if you want to go crazy) - 10% DISCOUNT CODE: 4509m8f8


You can test both apps for free to see which one suits you better before you commit to purchasing a membership. And let me tell you. IT. IS. WORTH. IT!!


You’re drowning in admin
We’ve established that you’d rather spend more time doing pirouettes than P&Ls, and you have NO TIME because you’re dancing. Here comes the vicious circle: more time dancing = more money = less time to work on admin. Less work on admin = you’re constantly running behind = feeling overwhelmed with work. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had a fairy godmother who could do it all for you? They exist, and they just cost $6-$10 an hour and they can run your life for you. That means that for $50 a week you can have your very own calendar-organising, email sorting, book-keeping, cashflow-managing godmother running your life while you take on more work. PLUS they can also help you run your social media channels if you need some extra help. 

Even though you think it might be an unnecessary expense, imagine this: $50 a week for 5-7 hours of admin work which would take YOU at least 12 or 14 hours. That’s at least extra 6 hours of potential dance or teaching work, which pays much more than $10 an hour!

Get a J-O-B that pays but doesn’t suck up your energy
Too exhausted from working on a shop floor or waitressing to prance around in lycra for your “REAL” job? That’s a sure one-way ticket to exhaustion. The “BUT I CAN DO IT” bravado can be your on worse enemy. You may think you’re super-human, but you’re still human. So many of the top super-humans I know have had serious complication in their careers due to exhaustion and burn-out. So if you need extra cash, try working from home, doing SOMETHING you’re good at. Social Media management, writing, tutoring, translating, lead-generation. Have a look at:, this is a great place to find work you can do from home (just be weary of scams and jobs / business opportunities that requires you to purchase anything upfront. 90% of the time these are a waste of time, energy and finances. Some can work out just fine, just do your research before jumping on board).


That’s it, happy 2017 everyone in the dance industry… let’s make this a good and prosperous year for all!

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Dance Hen Party
Managing Director
Paola has been working with Zoo since 2009 and has been an integral part of the Zoo “machine”. Now as our Managing Director, Paola sits in the driver's seat at Zoo and specialises in choreography for productions, TV, Film & events. She started dancing age 6 competing in rock’nd’roll & boogie woogie styles. She studied ballet and jazz before becoming a professional dancer and choreographer in Rome, then in London.
Cheer Coach
Shanique is the Head Coach for ZR Cheerleaders and teaches our workshops. Having been cheerleading since 2008, she started at Kingston University where she gained her BA Degree in Dance. She has a cheer coaching qualification and has coached from minis to university teams, taught cheer and dance classes in local schools, been a competitive cheer athlete at Unity Allstars. She has also been a part of Zoo for many years, competing with the pom dance team and performing at events.
Meet Our Dancers
Our professional team of dancers at Zoo Riot have a wealth of experience, technique sprinkled with that extra Zoo magic! Available for performances, events and media productions - explore our dancers profiles!
The ZR Crew
The ZR Crew is made up of Zoo Riot members who have been with Zoo for 1 year or more, or who come from a professional dance background. Everyone on the ZR Crew has a small role to help the running of our dance club, to take care of our community of members, but also to teach parties, manage events and think of fun things for Zoo to do!
Jessica is the founder and owner of ZR London Dance Company and is also the mastermind behind CheerConditioning.Academy - our cheerleading fitness online platform for the international cheer community.
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