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Become A Dancer

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Working As A Dancer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $29,218

    Average Salary

What Does A Dancer Do

Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.


Dancers typically do the following:

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

Dancers spend years learning dances and perfecting their skills. They usually perform as part of a group and know a variety of dance styles, including ballet, musical theater, and modern dance. In addition to traditional performances in front of a live audience, many perform on TV, in videos on the Internet, and in music videos, where they also may sing or act. Many dancers perform in shows at casinos, theme parks, and on cruise ships.

Choreographers typically do the following:

  • Put together moves in a sequence to create dances or interpretations of existing dances
  • Choose the music that will accompany a dance routine
  • Audition dancers for a role in a show or within a dance company
  • Assist with costume design, lighting, and other artistic aspects of a show
  • Teach complex dance movements
  • Study new and emerging types of dance to design more creative dance routines
  • Help with the administrative duties of a dance company, such as budgeting

Choreographers create original dances and develop new interpretations of existing dances. They work in theaters, dance companies, and movie studios. During rehearsals, they typically demonstrate dance moves, to instruct dancers in the proper technique. Many choreographers also perform the dance routines they create. Some choreographers work with performers who are not trained dancers. For example, the complex martial arts scenes performed by actors in movies are arranged by choreographers who specialize in martial arts.

Some dancers and choreographers hold other jobs between roles to make a living. Some people with dance backgrounds become dance teachers.

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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. Nearly all choreographers began their careers as dancers.

Education and Training

Many dancers begin training when they are young and continue to learn throughout their careers. Ballet dancers begin training the earliest, usually between the ages of 5 and 8 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.

Leading professional dance companies sometimes have intensive summer training programs from which they might select candidates for admission to their regular full-time training programs.

Modern dancers normally begin formal training while they are in high school. They attend after-school dance programs and summer training programs to prepare for their career or for a college dance program.

Some dancers and choreographers pursue postsecondary education. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in dance, typically through departments of theater or fine arts. In March 2015, there were about 85 dance programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance. Most programs include coursework in a variety of dance styles, including modern, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. Most entrants into college dance programs have previous formal training.

Some choreographers work as dance teachers. Teaching dance in a college, high school, or elementary school requires a college degree. Some dance studios and conservatories prefer instructors who have a degree but may accept previous work, in lieu of a degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Nearly all choreographers begin their careers as dancers. While working as dancers, they study different types of dance and learn how to choreograph routines.


Some dancers take on more responsibility if they are promoted to dance captain in musical theater or a ballet master/ballet mistress in concert dance companies. They lead rehearsals or work with less-experienced dancers when the choreographer is not present.

Eventually, some dancers become choreographers. Dancers and choreographers may also become theater, film, or television producers and directors.

Important Qualities

Athleticism. Successful dancers must have excellent balance, physical strength, and physical dexterity, so they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm.

Creativity. Dancers need artistic ability and creativity to express ideas through movement. Choreographers also must have artistic ability and innovative ideas, to create new and interesting dance routines.

Interpersonal skills. Dancers and choreographers may find job opportunities by networking within their communities.

Leadership skills. Choreographers must be able to direct a group of dancers to perform the routines that they have created.

Persistence. Dancers must commit to years of intense practice. They need to be able to accept rejection after an audition and to continue to practice for future performances. Choreographers must keep studying and creating new routines.

Physical stamina. Dancers are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to rehearse for many hours without getting tired.

Teamwork. Most dance routines involve a group, so dancers must be able to work together to be successful.

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Dancer Typical Career Paths

Dancer Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • German

  • Russian

  • Hindi

  • Italian

  • Japanese

  • Mandarin

  • Bengali

  • Cantonese

  • Gujarati

  • Korean

  • Chinese

  • Hebrew

  • Romanian

  • Samoan

  • Dutch

  • Bulgarian

  • Hungarian

  • Ukrainian

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Dancer Education


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Real Dancer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Dancers Wide World Entertainment NV Feb 12, 2014 $68,871
Dancer World Wide Entertainment NV Jun 20, 2013 $64,697
Dancers Ta Ladadika Restaurant Corp. NY Sep 21, 2012 $53,893
Ballroom Dancer Dance for Life, Inc. D/B/A Arthur Murray Dance STU Gaithersburg, MD Oct 01, 2014 $51,382
Filipino Folk Dancer & Ballroom Dancer Dance for Life, Inc. D/B/A Arthur Murray Dance STU Gaithersburg, MD Sep 16, 2014 $51,382
Professional Dancer Rolex Watch USA New York, NY Jul 12, 2010 $45,000
Dancer Temporary Jobs In America Consulting NV Mar 01, 2013 $44,203
Dancer Mother Tongue Music, LLC. New York, NY Sep 01, 2009 $41,740 -
Dancer Garret Moulton Performances San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2011 $40,082
Dancer Garrett Moulton Performances San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2011 $40,082
Dancer McDonald/Selznick Associates Los Angeles, CA Feb 01, 2012 $38,004
Dancer Los Magos Latin Band, LLC DBA Gemavo Creations UT Oct 01, 2012 $37,566
Dancer Sacramento Ballet Sacramento, CA May 30, 2012 $36,168
Professional Dancer McDonald/Selznick Associates Los Angeles, CA Nov 28, 2011 $36,000 -
Dancer Sacramento Ballet Sacramento, CA May 27, 2014 $35,479 -
Dancer World Wide Entertainment NV Feb 03, 2013 $31,305
Dancer Wide World Entertainment NV Oct 30, 2010 $31,305
Dancers Joseph D. Smart New Rochelle, NY Oct 01, 2010 $27,518
Dancer Sacramento Ballet Sacramento, CA May 30, 2012 $27,131
Dancer Sacramento Ballet Sacramento, CA Sep 06, 2011 $26,734
Dancer Sacramento Ballet Sacramento, CA Sep 06, 2010 $26,734
Dancer Sacramento Ballet Sacramento, CA Sep 14, 2009 $26,734
Dancers Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble CA Jul 08, 2008 $18,783
Dancers Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble CA Feb 15, 2008 $18,783
Dancers Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble CA Feb 14, 2008 $18,783

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Top Skills for A Dancer


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Top Dancer Skills

  1. Choreography
  2. Dance Performances
  3. Hip Hop
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Rehearsed runway walks and special choreography in preparation for fashion exhibits.
  • Attend costume fittings, photography sessions, and makeup calls associated with dance performances.
  • Danced pom, jazz, lyrical, military, modern, ballet, and hip hop.
  • Involved in many community appearances.
  • Appeared and entertained during on screen promotions, weekend home games, and various charity events throughout the year.

Top Dancer Employers

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Dancer Videos

The Dancer (Career Guides)

A Dancer's Career