Case study

Dance and media artist — Xavier De Santos

Xavier has been interested in dance since he was a child, so it was a natural progression for him to do a degree in dance. Discover how he has used his skills and experience to develop a successful career as a freelance artist

What degree did you study?

I graduated with a BA (Hons) Dance from Bath Spa University.

How did you get your job?

After my degree I decided to work as a freelance artist. I applied for many jobs and projects within my areas of expertise - dance (performance and teaching) and media (photography, videography and website design). This is a continuing process for freelancers and means that projects and work differ from day to day.

How relevant is your degree?

Very relevant. I would say that for my current career path I am using 90% of the skills that I explored in my dance degree.

What's a typical working day like?

I work on a few different jobs and projects, including choreographing, performing and teaching dance to children and adults of all ages (5-80), as well as photography and videography (from shooting to editing). I also teach Portuguese, my native language, as a foreign language and undertake website design.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really appreciate the variety, as every project and job is different and provides me with a range of experiences that help develop my portfolio.

What are the challenges?

I absolutely love what I do, but I suppose having to constantly organise my own schedule and forward plan to ensure that I have work lined up for the future would be my biggest challenge.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

It is very tricky to say where I would like to be in five years as I try to enjoy the journey of my career, and five years ago I would never have imagined that I would be where I am now.

As a freelancer, career progression is not outlined in my 'job description'. However, I would like to carry on developing my own practice and skills.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Balance your working and personal life in whichever career you are in. This balance means that you are able to enjoy and envision your desired path.
  • Have a platform where people can see what you do, your previous projects and your experience and, most importantly, always keep it updated.
  • Be honest about your other skills and don't focus solely on your chosen career. I think within the arts, it is important to keep your options open, and allow work to flow in through a variety of avenues.

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