Interviews

Joshua Horner builds a global dance community

Dance Upon A Dream evolves – The dance world is now a global community.

By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.

Joshua Horner created Dance Upon A Dream in 2012 as an online dance competition for dancers worldwide.  Since its inception, the website has become the place to be seen in the dance community and has provided dancers with a vast array of prizes, as well as contracts and scholarships to further their careers.

The new phase of Dance Upon a Dream takes things to the next level, with the site eliminating the competition aspect and becoming a one stop shop for dancers, agents, teachers and choreographers.  Dance Upon a Dream is now completely free for dancers and dance parents, who are already spending enough money on costumes, private lessons, and choreography, etc.  Josh says that the re-branding of Dance Upon A Dream is his gift to the dance community for allowing him to have a great career.  The site is now the finishing place, the hub, the database and the library where dancers can share the results of all the hard work, time and money that has been invested in a performance.

Josh spoke with Dance Informa over Skype from LA and spilled the beans on the changes afoot at Dance Upon a Dream.

Dance Upon a Dream and has evolved into a worldwide hub for dance and is a place to be seen.  Josh says, “I can now work with agents and casting people and say ‘look, we have created a database for you to find dancers and reach out to them’. I have met people from all over the world who have utilised Dance Upon a Dream to secure contracts already.  I have big ideas for the future of Dance Upon A Dream.  I work at Disneyland so you can only imagine how much my brain ticks over!  The possibilities are endless really.  I made the decision to turn off the competition side of Dance Upon a Dream because instead of complaining about what is wrong with the state of dance competitions and the mind set of dancers, I could do something more beneficial to the industry and to the dancers themselves.  The market for online dance competitions is becoming saturated and there can be a greediness amongst dance competitions when it comes to charging entry fees and I didn’t want parents to have to fork out even more money on top of what they already are.  I know all too well what its like to spend money on entry fees for competitions and I wanted to eliminate that for people. Parents and dancers are getting caught up in paying for a medal.  But competitions should be utilised to test your progression and skill against dancers from around the world.  The goal should be for a good performance and good footage, rather than a medal.”

Dance Upon A Dream“In America, there are so many dance competitions and parents seem solely focussed on the medal, the trophy or the win, but you are not actually winning.  It used to be that as a dance student and subsequently as a professional dancer, you always had goals to strive for and things to look forward to, whether it was graduating into the next class, performing in a concert, getting a promotion or being cast in a show.  It used to be a progressional career full of highs and excitement whereas the kids now sometimes only seek gratification from social media. They judge their career progression by likes on Instagram. There is no focus on career trajectory so I have started career mentoring which I find to be very fulfilling.  I would love to work more with full time dance students and do one on one sessions either in person or via Skype.  I hold a Careers and Progression class at Disneyland and I have seen dancers worldwide reach a certain age and they don’t know where they want to go.  At the very least, an aspiring dancer should have three plans for their future, for example: 1. Commercial dancer, 2. Musical Theatre dancer, or 3. Cruise Ship dancer.”

Josh’s private consultations are renown for setting dancers on a path to success.  His techniques for teaching students how to achieve their goals and prepare for a career in dance are unique and they get results.  Josh’s career has not only provided him with a wealth of experience, but given him connections all around the world.  Casting agents and choreographers approach him asking whether he knows any dancers for a specific job and through both Dance Upon a Dream and his private consultations, he is able to secure work for dancers and set their careers in motion.

“Dance has certainly become more popular in recent years but no one is thinking about the future and their goals and how it is all going to pop for them.  You can either do dance for fun or become wrapped up in the competition world where there is a whole sense of nothing at the end and our careers are really short. These Instagram famous kids peak so early that when they finally do become professional dancers, I will be interested to see what happens.  Some of these amazing young dancers become burnt out by the time they are adults and they either walk away from dance or choose to teach rather than perform.”

Josh said the he had spoken with many dancers who were too afraid to put their videos online for a number of different reasons.  Subsequently, Dance Upon a Dream now has a section for flashback videos.  Whether the videos were from a few years ago or twenty years ago, you can submit those videos online.  Additionally, the site is a safe place to watch and monitor current trends in dance, and acts as an educational website.  But you can still submit your new pieces and solos as soon as they are created.

Josh notes that the way dancers and dance competitions are in different countries are remarkably contrasted, with American dancers tending to perform, then put their videos online in the hopes of being noticed and picked up by someone.  Australian dancers, however, prefer to sit back and wait to be discovered rather than putting themselves out there.  “No one is going to hand your career to you, you have to work for it.  I’ve learned that the hard way by physical work and actually getting on a plane from Australia to the US and putting myself out there.”

The re-branding of Dance Upon a Dream has seen the site explode with popularity and it is now utilised in countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, United Kingdom, Spain, Nigeria, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Lebanon, Jamaica, Italy, France and Germany.  It is an educational tool for dancers, teachers and parents.  To be chosen as a “must watch” video on the site has become as sought after as likes on Instagram. Each month, the site announces the Most Outstanding Dancer for that month and it encourages dancers to share, learn and be seen around the world.

Josh muses, “I think a dance competition should only be for a dancer to assess their progression and to get video footage to put online to expose yourself to the world wide dance community.  And the place to house your video is Dance Upon a Dream.”

Josh is available for private consultations and  he can be contacted by email at josh@danceuponadream.com.

Dance Upon A Dream includes a section called “Like Me, Hire Me” for dancers who would like to submit their showreel to the website (these need to be emailed to info@danceuponadream.com).

Check out Dance Upon A Dream at www.danceuponadream.com.

Photo (top): Joshua Horner from Dance Upon A Dream. Photo courtesy of Joshua Horner.

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