Image and Design

Always bear in mind that your own
resolution to success is more important
than any other one thing


A résumé is an advertisement, and as research has shown, an advertisement has only a few seconds to catch a readerís eye. For this reason, simplicity, impact, presentation, readability, and design must be considered to create a job-winning résumé package. Now that you have all the information about yourself and the target company, it is time to mold that information into a professional, high-impact, self-marketing résumé.

Résumé Length

Most dancers can—and should—limit their résumé to one page. As noted earlier, the more professional experience a dancer gains, the less important earlier amateur experience becomes. Although dance companies in Europe and Australia are accustomed to receiving a Curriculum Vitae, which is a complete listing of dance experience, it is unlikely that these epics are often read completely or with interest. Why would a busy director of a respected company care if a new principal dancer once clogged in the French-English friendship pavilion at the Red River Festival back in 1979? Omit this sort of information, to highlight other, more spectacular achievements and still keep a résumé to a readable one page. However, move on to a second page if your work experience truly requires more space to be fairly represented. What is best is what works best for you. If your résumé is already concise but still doesnít fit on one page, donít leave out important facts to squeeze it down. Bear in mind, directors have limited time. They appreciate résumés that avoid long, irrelevant information and communicate the most important facts quickly. If you must add a second page, use a separate piece of paper and staple it to the first. Never print it on the back of the first page.

The main logic behind limiting your résumé to one page is that it enhances clarity. On subsequent pages one can list highlights of newspaper reviews and references.

White Space

White space is the margins and spacing between paragraphs. White space reduces reader fatigue and makes your résumé easier to read because a résumé is more attractive if it has plenty of white space throughout the page. Three-quarter- inch to one-inch margins are standard for a résumé. Look at the bad example résumé to see what happens if there is no white space.


Bad grammar and misspelled words on a résumé turn off an employer. The director is forced to wonder how a person who cares so little about a résumé will present himself or herself on stage. Check spelling of all the people and choreography on your résumé because one of the names you misspell might be a friend of the director or his or her favorite ballet. Check all dates, your address, and phone number. Read the cover letter and résumé once for spelling, once for punctuation and capitalization, and then read it backwards to catch the mistakes you missed. Finally, have someone else proofread.

Tricks for the Typewriter

Most résumés are written with a computer these days, and if you're reading this then you obviously have access to one. However, it is possible to type a good-looking résumé with a quality typewriter. The typewriter should have proportional spacing, boldfacing, and lift-off correction ribbon. For better results, use a typewriter that has the one-time-only plastic ribbon instead of the older cloth ribbon. The proportional spacing packs the letters together, which makes the résumé look as if it were typeset.

If your full name is less then sixteen letters long, then you can put a space between each letter to make your name appear larger on the page.

Instead of:

			Eric Wolfram


                       E R I C   W O L F R A M

You can also create bullets with a typewriter by typing a lowercase o and filling it in with a fine felt-tip pen. Bullets are great because you can:

*	Attract the readerís attention to the most important data.

	Break up boring gray blocks of type and create more valuable white space.

*	Provide a focal point on the page.

Typewriters can also create bullets by using an asterisk (*) or a dash (-). Limit the amount of bullets to three or four per page because bullets tend to lose impact if overused.

Fonts and Sizes

There are many advantages to using a computer to write your résumé. If you donít have continued access to one, donít overlook secretarial and word processing services. Also many photocopy shops have résumé services. Such a service can key a résumé onto computer disk, and from there corrections are easy, cheap, and fast. By having your résumé on disk, you can easily format your résumé to accommodate different target companies and add to the disk as you gain more experience.

Part of the design of a résumé and cover letter is created by the choice of font. A font is the style of lettering and the size is, of course, the size of the letter.

Use a serif font. A serif font has the little platforms and hooks the top and the bottom of each letter. Virtually every newspaper and book is written in a serif font because they are easy to read. Definitely write your cover letter in a serif font.

Sans serif literally means "without serif." These fonts are less conservative and a bit harder to read so donít use them on your cover letter. Sans serif fonts are acceptable for a dance résumé.

Use only one or two different fonts on your résumé. More fonts detract from the design and readability, creating a visual font-salad, which isn't appealing, unless you're making an advertisement for Wired Magazine.

Instead of using an additional font, key elements of a résumé can be highlighted by underlining, using italics, or printing boldly. Use these frills sparingly, however, because they tend to lose their impact if overused. Also avoid using all three at the same time.


Résumés and cover letters are most effective when printed on matching paper. Photocopy shops and stationary stores stock all kinds of paper. Eight-and-a-half by eleven inch, 25-pound bond paper in buff, cream, pale gray, and light brown are good choices. When selecting paper color, remember that your résumé is not modern art. Let your art be dancing, and select a color that looks sophisticated, professional, and unassuming. Consider heavier weight paper which gives a crisp-feeling résumé.

Fancy Folders

After putting so much effort into assembling your audition package, itís nice to display it in a folder or pouch. Many report folders are available in office and art supply stores. Find one that works for you. Some have clear covers which can create a nice effect if you let one of your photos show through. Others have a slot for a business card, if you have one, and this also creates a professional impression.

Some folders have "made from recycled paper" discreetly printed on the back. This might be a subtle way to indicate your environmental thoughtfulness. If the director you target is involved in the recycling movement, this sort of prudent self-marketing can be effective.

Word of Warning!

Many dancers go overboard in a desperate attempt to make their résumé unique. Itís all been done. People have lied, cheated, and sent singing telegrams. People have printed their résumés on T-shirts, in books, used leather folders, printed color brochures, sent nude photos, and even mailed computer multi-media disks. One résumé appeared on a billboard in Los Angels. People have sent oversized résumés with poster-sized face shots. One aspiring ballerina sent her point shoe in a box with a letter reading, "Now that Iíve got my foot in the door, how about an audition?"

DO NOT try any of these methods! Only consider such revolutionary methods if you are familiar with, or have researched, your target company, and are SURE your efforts will be appreciated. The dance world is small and people talk. Your reputation is on the line. Generally, directors want a conservative and professional-looking résumé. Many are skeptical of extremely unusual approaches.

It is true that some directors are certainly looking for unusual and creative dancers who will "go the extra mile" to get noticed. These directors are far and few between, however, and it is wiser to try a radical approach only if it is based on intimate knowledge of the director or an uncanny insight to human nature.

Let us train our minds
to desire what
the situation demands.
4 B.C.—65 A.D.

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