How to Write an Artist Bio that Stands Out
Written by Sarah Horne in May 2020 for RahDanceWorks
Before you Start
Being a dance artist is incredibly hard but what you do is so important. Truly, the world needs you even when it doesn’t know it or show it. A great way to get your mission and talent out there is to tell your unique story. You want to know how to write an artist bio that actually stands out. First things first…
Besides honing your talent and working on your technique, there is a third part to being in the dance industry that we usually dismiss: building sustainable skills.
If your heart just paused, don’t worry, I got you. Through free content and online training programs, my purpose is to empower you to have a long-lasting career in the dance field by helping build up professional skills.
That said, we’re going to start with something incredibly important: Your artist bio. And, we’re going to write an artist bio that stands out.
Writing a bio or an “about me” page can be incredibly difficult. We either hate (or don’t know how) to write about ourselves and do the bare minimum to get it done — or — we love writing about ourselves and we end up with way too much ego-centric content.
There are so many artist bios that are super outdated and academic, and honestly, that’s pretty boring and unrelatable. As artists, we also tend to use language that other artists understand. Instead, we need to think bigger and get more accessible – especially if we want to expand dance audiences.
Artist Biography vs. Artist Statement
Sometimes they can mean the same thing because both types of writing can be used for similar reasons: programs, press releases, websites, grants and choreographic applications. But, let’s try to think about them separately for now. An artist statement speaks more about your process and your artistic goals while your biography talks about your life story (it can include your artistic process, but it’s not limited by that).
Why is Your Bio Important?
- First thing people will read about you
- You will always need one (in different versions) for things like grant and choreographic applications, program notes, your website, on social media and more.
- Your bio makes you stand out (and it’s a great chance for a good impression)
What someone wants to read on your social media profile or website is going to be very different from what you submit on a grant application or put on Linkedin. So for now, write as much as you can. Then, afterwards, tailor what you have and adjust it for specific needs.
Try and Try Again
Dancers and choreographers don’t necessarily see themselves as writers, but don’t let that stop you. I would rather you write more and have a mind dump that you can edit after, then have it perfect the first time. Besides, it won’t be perfect the first time (even if you are a writer). Practice makes progress.
If you have a current bio – please do not look at it. Start fresh. And, if it’s easier to start in the third person that’s fine, but talking in the first person makes things personal and relatable.
And please remember: There’s more to you then where you went to school or the different choreographers you worked with. There will never be another you so it’s good to look inside and ask yourself, “why am I different?”.
Grab your journal or computer and answer the following questions:
- What do you create or do? Do you create concert dances, performance art, or do you teach young dancers or at the university level? Get specific about what and make sure to state it. You’d be surprised how many people forget to state exactly what they do.
- What exactly are you passionate about? We all love dance and we all have reasons why we’re here, but what gets you fired up?
- Do you do this work online? In your neighborhood? Is this a global scale project or local endeavor?
- Where does your work make an impact?
- Why did you get into dance?
- Why is your creative work important to you?
- Why is your creative work important to the world? And I’m not looking for a “because my work deserves to be seen” answer. I mean, what it is about your work that helps us connect to each other and why does that matter in this world?
- When did you realize this was what you wanted to do? When did that connection happen… Was it an aha moment? Did it happen over time
- When did you get started? Even if you don’t remember a time when you weren’t dancing, there is still a moment in your life that you feel in love with movement. Or maybe you fall back in love with dance everyday. Tell us about it.
Once you’ve answered the questions, take some time to read what you wrote. Then, start to piece together a story…
Tell us about 1 or 2 experiences that are pivotal moments in your life and how that has led you to your life values and goals, and how those values influence your work. Try to link that moment (or moments) with how you got to where you are now and why you do what you do. Maybe it’s a chronological narrative, and maybe it’s not. You get to be creative here. Have fun with your story! And okay yes, you should add some accolades and accomplishments and important teachers or directors you work with, but don’t make it all about that.
People remember stories, not a list of accolades. Your talent might get attention, but your story will lock you into memory. Remembering this will help you write an artist bio that stands out.
They want to trust the person behind the production. They will remember how your art made them feel but in order for them to trust you, and potentially buy tickets to your show, they must know that they share a common value, belief, hope or fear with you. Sharing your story will give people permission to believe in you and your work — it allows them to connect with you. And if they care about you, they will be your audience member for life.
It may take you several rounds and it may take you a few days. Everyone has a different process, don’t worry. I suggest writing a draft and then step away for a day or two before coming back to it.
Play around with different versions. Try to get one version that is 150 words, another that is 300-500 words, and one more that is as long as you want. This will give you different options for different needs.
Do that as many times as you need, until your bio feels right. Just know that at some point you have to let go and trust that what you wrote is from the heart.
Extra Step: Ask a friend to read it over. Ask 2 friends! Especially ask someone outside the dance industry. Don’t be offended if they have criticism. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.
Extra Tip: Here is an easy-to-use editor that really helps cut the clutter and get your message across. Its’ called the Hemingway Editor.
So, write an artist bio that stands out? You got it. Great job!
Let me know how your process is going, what works, and what doesn’t work… I want to know. And if you found this useful, please make sure to share with a friend.