Dancers express ideas, stories, rhythm, and sound with their
bodies. Some dance in ballet; others perform modern dance. Dancers
work in musical shows, in folk, ethnic, tap, and jazz dances.
Opera, musical comedy, television, movies, music videos, and commercials
often include dancing as well. Many dancers sing and act, as well
as dance. Dancers often work as a group. A few stars dance solo.
Many dancers also teach or choreograph dances.
Choreographers create new dances. They may also add changes to
older dances. Some teach dancers to get the results they want.
Dancing is hard work. Rehearsals often are long and usually take
place daily. Many rehearsals take place on weekends and holidays.
Weekend travel is common when a show is on the road. Dancers must
also work late hours and practice during the day.
Because dancing is hard work, most dancers stop working by their
late thirties. Sometimes they become dance teachers and coaches.
|How do you get ready to be a dancer?
To become a dancer, one must be agile, have good body tone, and
a supple body. Training begins at age 5 to 8 in ballet, usually
by private teachers and in ballet schools. Boys often start training
later than girls. Students who are good by their early teens get
more advanced training. Training also takes place in the summer.
Most dancers have their professional auditions by age 17 or 18.
Dancers normally spend 8 hours a day in class and rehearsal, keeping
their bodies in shape and preparing for performances.
Music, literature, history, and the arts can help you understand
the mood and ideas of a dance.
A college degree can help a dancer who retires early get another
kind of job. It is also very important if the dancer wants to
teach in elementary or high school. Dance studios usually want
teachers to have been performers.
As dancers get better, they often get more jobs, bigger and better
roles, and higher pay.
|How much does this job pay?
In 2002, the middle half of all dancers made between $14,570
and $34,660 a year. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than
$12,880. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $53,350.
Choreographers earned a little more, on average. When on tour,
dancers receive an allowance for room and board and extra money
Dancers and choreographers work on specific jobs. When the job
is over, they have to look for another one. Earnings from dancing
are often low because dancers don't work all year. They often
take another kind of job when they are not dancing.
Many dancers belong to unions. Some get paid sick leave and other
About 37,000 dancers and choreographers had a job at any one
time in 2002. Many other dancers didn't work during the year and
earned a living doing something else. Dancers work in many kinds
of places. Some work in restaurants, theaters, dance studios,
theme parks, and with bands. In addition, many dance teachers
work in all kinds of schools.
Almost all the major cities in the United States have full-time
There are a lot of people who want to be professional dancers
and choreographers, but not so many jobs. Only the most talented
will find regular work.
The number of dancers and choreographers will grow about as fast
as the average for all occupations through 2012. The best chance
of getting a job will be with a big dance company. Opera companies
will also have some new jobs. Dance groups in colleges and universities
and television and motion pictures will also have some jobs. There
will also be some jobs for dance teachers. Music video producers
will have some jobs for dancers and choreographers.
|Are there other jobs like this?
- Dance critics
- Dance instructors
- Dance therapists
- Ice skaters
- Professional athletes
|Where can you find more information?
More information about dancers and choreographers can be found
in the Careers Database
Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau
of Labor Statistics