What does a Dancer do?

Dancers express stories and ideas through dance performances. Dancers often perform with a group and have the ability to dance to different forms of music such as modern, ballet, or musical theater. Dancer may perform for TV shows, movies, ballets, and dance recitals.

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How to Become a Dancer

Dancers have a variety of training and education, but usually have many years of formal training. Most dancers begin training at a very young age participating in private dance lessons or training programs. Many dancers are audition and seeking employment at 18 years old already. Some leading professional dance companies offer intensive summer training programs and may choose candidates for admission to their full-time training programs. Programs include courses in different dance styles like jazz, ballet, modern, and hip-hop. A college degree is not necessary, however many dancers do pursue degrees allowing them to explore other genres and have performance opportunities to show off their talent.

Job Description of a Dancer

A dancer would actively perform as many auditions as possible to obtain a part in a show for employment in a dance company. They would rehearse many hours every day to prepare for a performance by learning the complex dance movements that their audience would enjoy. They study new dances and work closely with instructors, choreographers, and other dancers in order to perfect their routines.

He or she attends promotional events for the production and may have photography sessions. In addition to the traditional performances for a live audience, some dancers perform on Internet, videos, television, theme parks, cruise ships, and other places like casinos. As dancers get older, they may transition into teaching dance classes or at a university or may pursue working as a director or choreographer.

Dancers most stay strong and exercise regularly to stay conditioned for their dance programs. The often times are performing at various times a day in addition to rehearsals, therefore do not having regular working hours. Some dancers travel to various locations for performances and can be gone for months at a time. Many dancers live in larger cities for employment opportunities, however these can very competitive.

Dancer Career Video Transcript

Like poetry in motion, dancers use movement and rhythm to create performances that express ideas, emotions, and stories… whether they use the language of ballet, hip-hop, or ballroom dance. Dancers spend years learning dance technique and movements, and must maintain their conditioning and skills continuously throughout their career. They need to be ready at any time to audition for a show, and have the stamina to rehearse several hours each day for performances.

Learning skills are also essential, to pick up complex choreography, and study emerging forms of dance. The rigors of dance takes a toll on the body, so injuries are common. Many dancers stop performing by the time they reach their late thirties, and may move into choreography, directing, or teaching. Dancers work in dance schools, theaters, performing companies, TV or movie studios, at casinos, on cruise ships, and at theme parks. When on tour, dancers have long workdays, rehearsing most of the day and performing at night. Self-employment, and part-time dance work is common.

All dancers need many years of formal training; many start when they are young —ages 5 to 8 for ballet— and continue to learn throughout their careers. A later start is typical for some dance styles. Teaching dance in a college, high school, or elementary school requires a bachelor’s degree. Dance studios and conservatories’ requirements vary; some require a degree, while others may accept work experience.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dancers and Choreographers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 27-2031.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.