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Dancer Job Description, Career as a Dancer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

income dancers ballet schools professional

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Dancers express feelings and act out stories through the movement of their bodies. Some dancers specialize in classical ballet or modern dance, while others perform in musical shows or do tap, folk, ethnic, modern jazz, or ballroom dancing. Dance is also used in opera, musical comedy, and television performances. Classical ballet requires very structured movements with little room for interpretation. Ballet dancers follow movements based on classical "positions" taught to them at the beginning of their careers. In contrast, modern dancers do a freer and less structured kind of dancing.

Jazz dancers are most commonly used on Broadway and in television, movies, and nightclubs. Broadway and nightclub dancers are usually skilled in tap and have training in singing and acting.

Not all dancers perform before audiences. Many teach in schools and colleges or at places specializing in social and ballroom dance instruction. Other dancers become choreographers and create new ballets and modern dances. Choreographers guide dancers in learning the movements of a particular piece. They also create and supervise the dances used in musicals and on television.

Professional dancers spend much of their time in classes, auditions, and rehearsals. Most take classes on a regular basis to keep in shape and to discipline their minds and bodies. They audition for new parts frequently, since many dance productions last for only a short time.

Education and Training Requirements

Classical ballet dancers normally begin serious training by the age of twelve, with early training by the age of seven or eight. Modern dancers also need early, intensive training, but they usually do not need as many years of training as classical ballet dancers.

Classical ballet dancers often begin their training at the age of seven. If they become professional dancers, they must continue to practice and train throughout their careers. (© Kurov Alexander/ITAR-TASS/Corbis.)

Proper training from the beginning is essential. A child's body is very pliable. Bones are not fully grown and can be damaged by excessive exercise. Before enrolling in a dance program, students and their parents should consider the dance instructor's philosophy, experience, and qualifications.

High school students who have exceptional ability in ballet may receive advanced training in regional ballet schools or in schools affiliated with major ballet companies. Some dance school companies select their students from summer training programs. In these schools dance training predominates, but courses in music, literature, history, and the visual arts are also included. Dance students should take courses in math, science, and English as well.

Most dancers have professional auditions by the age of seventeen or eighteen, but they continue to practice and train throughout their careers. Professional ballet dancers, for example, take from ten to twelve lessons each week for eleven or twelve months of the year and spend many additional hours practicing and rehearsing.

Students may receive additional training in dance at one of the sixty accredited dance programs approved by the National Association of Schools of Dance. In fact, there are more than 240 programs at schools around the United States that offer bachelor's or higher degrees in dance. A college education is not mandatory for a professional dancer; however, higher education is an advantage for those wishing to teach in colleges and universities. In fact, colleges and conservatories usually require graduate degrees, but experience is sometimes an acceptable substitute.

Physical stamina, good health, appropriate height and build, and good feet with normal arches are essential for a person interested in pursuing a career in dance. Equally important is the self-discipline required for hours of rigorous practice.

Some dancers enter the related and growing field of dance therapy. Dance therapists must have dance training, a bachelor's degree in dance or psychology, a master's degree, and an internship with a qualified dance therapist. Some other related occupations that require dance training or knowledge of dance forms include acrobatics, ice skating, dance criticism, and dance notation. Dance notators write down the movements, music, costumes, background, and other details of a dance performance.

Getting the Job

Dancers generally obtain jobs through auditions. These opportunities are publicized through union notices, newspapers, trade journals, booking agencies, and call boards at dance schools. A dancer usually has to attend several auditions before getting a part. During an audition, dancers are required to perform brief routines suggested by the choreographer. Sometimes dancers must bring their resumes and photographs. Most dancers are eliminated during an audition. Only a small number are chosen to return for a second audition.

Some dancers pay for the services of entertainment booking agencies that help them find jobs. Dancers who wish to teach generally apply directly to the schools of their choice.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Beginning dancers often spend several years working in dance choruses. Advancement depends on both talent and luck, and performers who are exceptional eventually do solo numbers or work with only a few other dancers. Professional dancers usually retire when they are in their thirties, but certain celebrated dancers continue performing beyond the age of fifty. Older dancers often become choreographers or dance instructors after retiring from the stage. Some dancers form their own dance companies, and, in the case of ballet, a few advance to the training position of ballet master or mistress.

Competition for employment as a dancer is expected to remain very keen through the year 2014. The number of dancers who seek professional careers will continue to exceed the number of job openings. Only the most talented dancers will find regular employment. Dance teachers and choreographers usually have more job security than performers. The increased popularity of dance in recent years has resulted in a greater demand for dance teachers. Some new employment opportunities may arise with the growth of new professional dance companies. Some of these groups will be affiliated with colleges and universities.

Working Conditions

Dancing is very difficult, strenuous work, and the hours of rehearsal can be tedious and exhausting. Most dancers remain in the field only because they love to dance and would not be happy in any other occupation. Dancers often work nights and weekends, which is when performances are generally scheduled. They also travel frequently because large dance companies usually take their shows on tour.

Many professional dancers are members of one of several unions, depending on the type of dancing they do and in what medium they perform. Generally dancers work thirty hours per week, including rehearsals, matinees, and evening performances; however, individual dancers often negotiate separate contracts with producers in order to receive higher salaries or shorter working hours.

Earnings and Benefits

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly income for dancers is $8.54. Because dancers often hold short-term jobs that range in length from one day to three months, employment can be characterized as irregular at best. Salary varies widely. Dancers who work with performing arts companies earn a median income of $14.82 per hour. Dancers on tour receive an additional allowance for room and board. Salaries for teachers in dance schools vary according to location of the school and the experience of the individual teacher.

Where to Go for More Information

American Dance Guild
P.O. Box 2006, Lenox Hill Station
New York, NY 10021
(212) 932-2789
http://www.americandanceguild.org/

National Dance Association of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance
1900 Association Dr.
Reston, VA 20191-1598
(703) 476-3400
http://www.aahperd.org/nda/

Approximately 20 percent of dancers are self-employed, meaning they receive no benefits. Unionized dancers receive some paid sick leave and vacations, as well as health insurance benefits.

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about 6 years ago

if you love to dance then work hard to become a dancer so that case you can teach others to dance like you but if you dont then thats ok so just keep on dreaming

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about 6 years ago

This rele helped me for school thx alot!!!! I am definately telling my friends bout' this info!!! ;)

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about 6 years ago

Hello! My name is Olga Vlasova. I the professional choreographer and the dancer. I have the show ballet. The ballet repertoire is dances of nations of the world, dances in style of a cabaret and dances in a modernist style. My ballet exists since 2003.

Ballet work: 2004 - Japan, 2005-2006 - China, 2006 - Yalta, 2007-2008 - Surinam (South America), 2009 - Taiwan, 2009-2010 - Surinam, Guyana, 2010-1011-Panama.

I search contacts for work abroad.

Yours faithfully Olga Vlasova.

You can look Fasebook - Olga Vlasova and YouTube - Show ballet ERIDAN.



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about 6 years ago

love yall dance

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over 5 years ago

I was just wondering what are the appropriate sizes for the

appropriate height and build, and good feet with normal arches to be a tap dancer professionally ?



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over 4 years ago

Hi i am jamaican and am reeli intersted in become a dancer for street children... and i am not professional as i just left high skool with good hrades and subjects... and i realli wnat to establish a busines.

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almost 5 years ago

i am sexie and love to dance period so any dance job is good for me.BUT NOT A STRIP CLUB.....be more in the open not nasty

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over 5 years ago

I am a dancer. I been dancing all my life. I will be attened college in NY. I cant wait to go and live my dreams to the fullest.

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over 5 years ago

What school do you have to go to? How old do you have to be? so how long dose it take to be a dance teacher?

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over 6 years ago

Dancer Job Description, Career as a Dancer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

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over 7 years ago

I saw the requirements for an MA in Dance Education for a specific school and they stated they need an application and audition. It only says that applicants must have an advanced level of ballet training, what would that be specifically. Just the highest level of training at any local school of dance? Training at a school specifically for dance or at a college level? I really need to know for something I am writing and I know nothing about Dance Education.

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about 9 years ago

i was doing a school project and i had to an add for a ballet dancer and hire someonr and do intreveiws and this really helped my and added to my prior knowlege of ballet dancers so thank you sooo much i got an A+ thank you

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about 9 years ago

this was very helpful to my knowledge

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almost 9 years ago

i always dreamed of becoming a dancer. im more into hip hop. i was doing a career day project and i decided to do dance. after reading this whole entire page it really helped me out! i never knew all the things that dancers really had to do to get to their dream job. i know this sounds weird but this page actually inspired me to dance even more.

thank you so much!!!

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over 8 years ago

What i wanted to know was what was the math classes u needed to take for this soecific career.

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about 5 years ago

Im trained in ballet, tap, morden, hip hop, break dance and parnter work. does that mean that don't do jazz means i wouldn't be able to come to your DANCE ACCADAMY.

Craig Johnson (14)

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about 5 years ago

Im trained in ballet, tap, morden, hip hop, break dance and parnter work. does that mean that don't do jazz means i wouldn't be able to come to your DANCE ACCADAMY.

Craig Johnson (14)

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over 5 years ago

i love dancing but idk if i want to do it for a living :/

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over 5 years ago

good day ,i am john an african dance instructor i am looking for fgood proffessional company that i can work seasonally from time to time ,i live in africa.asnd to also cultural exchange and possible projects with schools and institutions ,ngos.looking forward hearing from u,kind rgds,john flash stephen

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over 5 years ago

good day ,i am john an african dance instructor i am looking for fgood proffessional company that i can work seasonally from time to time ,i live in africa.asnd to also cultural exchange and possible projects with schools and institutions ,ngos.looking forward hearing from u,kind rgds,john flash stephen

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about 6 years ago

I WISH I WAS A DANCER AND I STILL BELIVE THAT I COULD BE ONE BECAUSE ONE THING ABOUT IT IO COULD DANCE MY TAIL OFF

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about 6 years ago

I WISH I WAS A DANCER AND I STILL BELIVE THAT I COULD BE ONE BECAUSE ONE THING ABOUT IT IO COULD DANCE MY TAIL OFF

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about 5 years ago

Im trained in ballet, tap, morden, hip hop, break dance and parnter work. does that mean that don't do jazz means i wouldn't be able to come to your DANCE ACCADAMY.

Craig Johnson (14)

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over 5 years ago

yall's info is good and all i like dance so good luck

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almost 9 years ago

thank you so much for this post. it sure helped me alot! i never know that dancers have to go through so much to stay on with their job.

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almost 9 years ago

everr sincee i wasz a lil qerll ivee alwaiisz wanteDd 2 become a dancerr.d typee of dancee dat imm intO iSz hip hop. i wanaa b daa dancerr in musicc videosz.!! ritee now imm duinq a career project in skOOl, ndd i chosee mehh fav. whichh isz dancee.nd afterr; readinqq disz paqee iht actuallyy inspiredd mehh.!!!!!!! thankk yuhh sooo muchhh

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almost 6 years ago

my body is in great shape

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over 4 years ago

I'd like to make you aware of a few statistics about Answers4dancers.com. According to Alexa.com, Answers4dancers ranks #1 worldwide in educating dancers about the biz.

So far this year, 166 members have reported 893 paying jobs. The most active results came from dancers located in the NYC and Los Angeles areas.

Four months ago, we published 'Your Guide To Hi-Paying Jobs.' By tracking the skill requirements of 900+ auditions, the guide enables dancers to make training choices that are most likely to translate directly into the best-paying jobs.

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about 5 years ago

Im trained in ballet, tap, morden, hip hop, break dance and parnter work. does that mean that don't do jazz means i wouldn't be able to come to your DANCE ACCADAMY.

Craig Johnson (14)

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about 5 years ago

I want to know where can you get training to do ballet and how long do you need to get training?

What is the requirement, weight, lenght etc for doing ballet.

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about 5 years ago

Im trained in ballet, tap, morden, hip hop, break dance and parnter work. does that mean that don't do jazz means i wouldn't be able to come to your DANCE ACCADAMY.

Craig Johnson (14)

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over 5 years ago

i wish this told me the salury because it is really annoying when im trying to do like 50 other things and i cant find the one thing i really need at the moment......so ya thanks a alot for the info........next time try harder

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about 5 years ago

Im trained in ballet, tap, morden, hip hop, break dance and parnter work. does that mean that don't do jazz means i wouldn't be able to come to your DANCE ACCADAMY.

Craig Johnson (14)

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over 3 years ago

hello I love to dance because my teacher is cool

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over 1 year ago

this really helped me at blackpool aspire academy for my business job description, thankyou