Category: Dance

Becoming a Professional Dancer

If dancing is your passion and getting paid to do it is your dream job, read on. Your questions about dancing as a career are about to be answered. Those who get paid for performing dance routines before audiences.

Professional dancers usually dedicate long hours of rehearsalsWhere They Work

Dancers can work within performance troupes and touring companies, on cruise ships, at entertainment establishments such as clubs and restaurants, in stage productions such as musicals, plays, and operas, in music videos, and within stage shows for musical acts (singers/bands).

What Professional Dancing is Like

Dancers are expected to put in long, strenuous hours rehearsing and performing. Since most performances take place in the evening or at night, a dancer’s days are filled with rehearsals. Dancers also spend time in a gym or other fitness establishment to strengthen muscles and keep the body in top physical shape.

Dancers may also spend their time auditioning for their next role or gig, as it is rare for a professional dancer to have consistent employment for longer than 3 – 6 months at a time.

Generally, rehearsal and performance halls are cool and comfortable, but not always.

What They Get Paid

You should not expect to become wealthy by dancing professionally. In 2004, median hourly earnings of dancers were $8.54; the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.59 per hour. It is important to remember, however, that hourly averages appear low because employment is often only for part of a year, unlike a traditional job. Naturally, your passion for the art is what pays the most – in job satisfaction.

How They Become Qualified

The general consensus is that dancers should begin with a strong foundation in classical dance before choosing a particular style to focus on. Most female professional dancers began their training between the ages of 5 to 8; men, the ages of 10 to 15. In the teen years, dancers who show great potential may choose to focus and intensify their training.

Because of the short “life-span” of a dancer’s career, many dancers have their first professional auditions by the ages of 17 or 18.

Job Outlook

As America continues its love affair with dance, there will continue to be job openings for dancers. However, because there is so much competition for professional positions, the supply of dancers far outweighs the demand for them.

Positions may become available due to current cast member retirements, new companies forming, new venues opening and cattle call auditions for movies and music videos.

Odds and Ends

  • Most dancers retire in their 30s. Very few celebrated dancers sustain careers into their 50s.
  • Retired dancers often go on to become dance instructors, choreographers, or artistic directors.
  • Touring dancers usually receive an allowance for room and board. Some dancers are even compensated for overtime.
  • Many universities offer degree programs in dance, mostly in modern dance, but some in more niche disciplines.

Still interested in dancing for a living? Good for you! Best wishes for all that hard work to pay off.

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Dance Characteristics

The following chart lists some of the characteristics that go into uniquely defining the dances listed. PLEASE DON’T BE MISLEAD: The elements listed here are only a few that go into uniquely defining any given dance.

This chart is in development. More columns will be added later as information is acquired.


Definitions

Rhythm Unit = 2 beats of music in 4/4 time

Annotation in Braces [ ]

X or x = A weight change (Step)

/ = A beat of music.

O = Hop or a Skip

E = Even Rhythm Unit – Even number of weight changes (0,2,4,etc.)

O = Odd Rhythm Unit – Odd number of weight changes (1,3,5,etc.)

Downbeat = 1st Beat of every Rhythm Unit

Upbeat = 2nd Beat of every Rhythm Unit

Up = Up

Dn = Down


Dance Characteristics Chart
4/4 Time

Dance Odd/Even
Rhythm
Patterns
Basic Rhythm Patterns
Balboa EOEO
PATTERN TYPE 1
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6   &A7  &A8


[  X    X] [  /    X] [  X    X] [  /    X]


PATTERN TYPE 2
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6   &A7  &A8


[  X    X] [  X    /] [  X    X] [  X    /]


Movement Unit = Dn Dn
Bossa Nova OOOO
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6   &A7  &A8


[  X    /] [  X    /] [  X    /] [  X    /]


Movement Unit = Dn Dn
Carolina Shag OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO

  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]
Cha Cha
Competition
Break On
2 & 6
OEOE
STANDARD PATTERN
 &1   2    3   4   &5   6    7   8
[xX   X] [ X   X] [xX   X] [ X   X]


ANOTHER SYNCOPATION
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6   &a7  &a8


[ xX    X] [  X    X] [ xX    X] [  X    X]


Break on counts 2 and 6
Cha Cha
Colloqual
Break On
1 & 5
EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]


Break on counts 1 and 5
Charleston EOEO
or
OEOE
PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ /   /] [ X   /] [ /   /] [ X   /]


PATTERN TYPE - OEOE
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   /] [ /   /] [ X   /] [ /   /]



Chicago Swing OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]
East Coast Swing OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]
Fox Trot EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3   4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   /]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
Houston Shuffle EOO .
Hustle
New Count
[1 2]
[&3 4]
[5 & 6]
EOO
EE
STANDARD PATTERN - EOO
   1   2   & 3   4     5 & 6
[  X   X] [x X   X] [  X x X]


STANDARD PATTERN - EE (used for some turns)
   1   2   & 3 & 4
[  X   X] [x X x X]


ANOTHER SYNCOPATION - EOO
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6


[  X    X] [ xX    X] [  X   xX]


ANOTHER SYNCOPATION - EE (used for some turns)
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4


[  X    X] [ xX   xX]
Hustle
Old Count
[&1 2]
[3 & 4]
[5 6]
OOE
STANDARD PATTERN
 & 1   2     3 & 4    5   6
[x X   X] [  X x X] [ X   X]


ANOTHER SYNCOPATION
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6


[ xX    X] [  X   xX] [  X    X]
Hustle
Barry
Douglas
Style
[& 1 2]
[&3 4]
[5 & 6]
EEE
BASIC RHYTHM PATTERN
 & 1   2   & 3 & 4    5 & 6
[x X   X] [x / x X] [ X x /]

Barry referrs to this as the Detroit Hustle. Don’t confuse this with the style of Hustle with that danced to the Old Count Hustle. It is not the same at all. With the Old Count Hustle, there is a “Ball Change” on counts “& 1” and “& 4”. With this style of Hustle, at the basic level, the dancers unweighted foot is pointed forward prior to the “&” count for “& 1” and “& 4”, with the weight being transferred to that forward foot on those “&” counts. With this style of Hustle, the “Ball Change” is done on counts “& 3” and “& 6”, just as it is done in the New Count Hustle. Barry counts it as “1 2 & 3 4 5 & 6” – leaving out the & counts prior to counts “1” and “4”.

Imperial
Swing
OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]
Jitterbug OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]
Jive OO
EOO
EOEO
.
Kenny’s
Speed Shag
St. Louis
Shag
OEOE
PATTERN TYPE 1
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X x X] [ /   /] [ X   /] [ X   X]


PATTERN TYPE 2
  1   2    3   4    5 & 6    7   8
[ X x X] [ /   /] [ X x X] [ X   X]


Lambada EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
Laminu EOEO .
Lindy Hop OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]


ALTERNATE STYLING 1 - EOEO
Many times the Triple Rhythm Units are replaced by 
Bouncing Single Rhythm Units which leave the weight 
on the same foot at the beginning and end of the 
Single Rhythm Units.  The following is an example of 
an 8 beat pattern:


  1   2   3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [X O /] [ X   X] [ X O /]


ALTERNATE STYLING 2 - EOEO
There is also another style that really Flies. The 
Following is an example of an 8 beat pattern:


 & 1 & 2   & 3 & 4   & 5 & 6   & 7 & 8
[O X O X] [  O O X] [O X O X] [  O O X]


Mambo
Break On
2 & 6
OEOE
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ /   X] [ X   X] [ /   X] [ X   X]
Mambolero
Break On
2 & 6
OEOE
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ /   X] [ X   X] [ /   X] [ X   X]
Melange EE
  1   2    3   4
[ X   X] [ X   X]
Merengue EE .
New Yorker EOO
  1   2    3   4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X x X]
Night Club
Fox Trot
EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
Night Club
2-Step
OO
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]
Polka OO
  1 & 2    3 & 4

[ X x X] [ X x X]
Pony EEEE
 & 1 & 2   & 3 & 4   & 5 &  6  & 7 & 8
[x X x X] [x X x X] [x X x X] [x X x X]
Rhythm
2-Step
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3   4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   /]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
Rodeo
Swing
EE
  1   2    3   4
[ X   X] [ X   X]
Rodeo
2-Step
OEO .
Rumba
American
Social
Breaks On
1 & 5
EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
Rumba
Open & Int’l
OEOE
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ /   X] [ X   X] [ /   X] [ X   X]
Salsa
Picado
OO
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]
Salsa
Standard
EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
Salsa
Suave
EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ /   X] [ X   X] [ /   X]
Salsa
Valente
(The Rope)
EOOO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   X] [ X   X] [ X   X]
Samba OO
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4


[  X   xX] [  X   xX]


Movement Unit = Dn Dn

Samba
International
OO
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]
Shottische EOEO
OOOO
16 Beat
Pattern
FIRST HALF OF PATTERN
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   O] [ X   X] [ X   O]


SECOND HALF OF PATTERN
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   O] [ X   O] [ X   O] [ X   O]
Tango OOEE
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   /] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ /   /]
Triple
2-Step
EOO .
2-Step
6 Beat
EOO
  1   2    3   4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   /]
2-Step
UCWDC Rules
6 & 8 Beat
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3   4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   /]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3   4    5   6    7   8
[ X   X] [ X   /] [ X   X] [ X   /]
West Coast
Swing

Non
Syncopated
Style
OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
  1 & 2    3 & 4
[ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
  1   2    3 & 4    5 & 6
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X x X]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO
  1   2    3 & 4    5   6    7 & 8
[ X   X] [ X x X] [ X   X] [ X x X]
West Coast
Swing

Syncopated
Style
OO
EOO
EOEO
PATTERN TYPE - EE
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4


[  X   xX] [  X   xX]


PATTERN TYPE - EOO
 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6


[  X    X] [  X   xX] [  X   xX]


PATTERN TYPE - EOEO

 &a1  &a2   &a3  &a4   &a5  &a6   &a7  &a8


[  X    X] [  X   xX] [  X   xX] [  X   xX]
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