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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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