14.44/hr 14.44/hr
13k 13k
4.8% 4.8%
3.9/5 3.9/5
H.S. High School

What is a Dancer?

Also known as: Ballroom Dancer, Hip-Hop Dancer, Jazz Dancer, Tap Dancer, Ballerina, Ballet Dancer, Backup Dancer, Professional Dancer.

A dancer is someone who uses movements to express ideas and stories in performances. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, contemporary, tap, jazz, ballroom and hip-hop. Dancers commit to years of learning, practicing and perfecting their dance skills. Some people with dance backgrounds become dance teachers or choreographers.

How to Become a Dancer

What does a Dancer do?

Dancers typically do the following:

  • Audition for a part in a show or for a job with a dance company
  • Learn complex dance movements that entertain an audience
  • Spend several hours each day in rehearsals to prepare for their performance
  • Study new and emerging types of dance
  • Work closely with instructors or other dancers to interpret or modify choreography
  • Attend promotional events, such as photography sessions, for the production in which they are appearing

Successful dancers must have excellent balance so they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm. They must be agile, flexible, coordinated, and musical. They also need artistic ability and creativity to express ideas through movement. They are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to work for many hours without getting tired. Most dance routines involve a group, so dancers must be able to work together to be successful. They need to be able to accept rejection after an audition and continue to practice for a future role. Some dancers take on more responsibility by becoming a dance captain in musical theatre or a ballet master/ballet mistress in concert dance companies, by leading rehearsals, or by working with less-experienced dancers when the choreographer is not at practice.

Dance takes a toll on a person’s body, giving dancers one of the highest rates of non-fatal, on-the-job injuries. Many dancers stop performing by their late thirties because of the physical demands dancing makes on the body. Non-performing dancers may continue to work as a choreographer, director, or dance teacher.

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How to become a Dancer

Education and training requirements vary with the type of dancer; however, all dancers need many years of formal training. Many begin training when they are very young and continue to learn throughout their careers. Ballet dancers usually begin training the earliest, usually between the ages of five and eight for girls and a few years later for boys. Their training becomes more serious as they enter their teens, and most ballet dancers begin their professional careers by the time they are 18 years old.

Many universities offer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dance, typically through departments of theatre or fine arts. Most focus on modern dance but also include courses in jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and other forms. Entrants into university dance programs typically have many years of previous formal training. Even though it is not required, many dancers choose to earn a degree in an unrelated field to prepare for a career after dance, because dance careers are usually brief. Teaching dance in a university, high school, or elementary school usually requires a degree, but may accept performance experience instead.

What is the workplace of a Dancer like?

Dancers’ schedules vary, depending on where they work. Most dancers spend the day in rehearsals and have performances at night, giving them long workdays. Dancers may perform as part of a group in a variety of settings, including the ballet, musical theatre, and modern dance companies. Many perform on TV or in music videos, where they also may sing and act, or perform in shows at concerts, casinos, theme parks, or on cruise ships.



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Further Reading

  • 15 Truths About Being A Professional Dancer www.theportlandballet.org

    The world of dance today is akin to an extreme sport. Natural ability and talent will only get us so far.

  • Work Life: Teneisha Bonner, Dancer www.stylist.co.uk

    A one-day diary from morning latte to lights out.

  • A Day In The Life Of A Ballet Dancer diabloballet.wordpress.com

    Deborah Bull, a former dancer with the Royal Ballet and currently the director of Cultural Institute at King’s College in London, wrote in her book, “The Everyday Dancer”, that the day of a professional ballet dancer is more or less 12 hours of working, 6 days a week.

  • Making It On Broadway dancenews.capezio.com

    To land a Broadway gig is to land a dance dream job. With eight shows a week offering much performance experience on big, historic stages and with significant compensation, its no wonder so many dancers are after this gig.

  • But What I Really Want To Do Is Dance! www.danceadvantage.net

    There’s one email that I get quite a lot. Though it comes with a variety of backstories, it goes a little something like this...

  • How To Become A Professional Dancer – 3 Things You Should Do First www.dancesaveslives.org

    To be a professional dancer is to live a dream. Whether you are dancing as a back up dancer to a huge named artist performing on stage in front of sold out stadiums or traveling the 7 seas as a dancer for a cruise line.

  • Becoming A Dance Professional www.artsalive.ca

    Have you attended a dance performance you can't forget? Do you love to dance and hope to make it your career? If you want to become a part of the fascinating world of professional dance, read on!

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