Wilson (right) judging the competition (Evolve Photo)

All your practice and prep for a competition leads up to the moment when you hit your final mark and look up at the judges' table. But do you ever wonder what their experience is like? Follow along with Dana Wilson—a dancer, choreographer, member of The Seaweed Sisters trio, and faculty member/judge for New York City Dance Alliance—on a typical day of teaching, judging, and doing a fair bit of juggling.

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Kylie Shea spent four years dancing with Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Theater before venturing out on her own. (@underground_nyc, courtesy Shea)

More and more frequently, dancers are embracing their entrepreneurial spirit and eschewing the stability of a company paycheck for the creative freedom of freelance life. Some have been in full-time companies—or could be—but many are choosing to be their own bosses instead. Of course, freelancing is not without its challenges. Dancers are at greater risk for burnout, face unpredictable scheduling, and can struggle with self-advocacy. But as these three successful freelancers show, forging your own path can be extremely rewarding.

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It's pretty much undeniable that today's social-media-obsessed culture expects you to build your brand online—even as you're still building your skills in the studio. The positives of gaining exposure as a student are obvious, and posting your dance accomplishments may feel natural if you're already personally prolific on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook.

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