Careers in Dance - Required Skills & 10 Alternate Dance Based Career Options

by Danielle Hernandez on July 18, 2018


No longer want to dance but your passion and love for the art is making your wonder which way to head? Here are ten great dance based careers for you to explore.

A professional dancer uses movement to convey stories and ideas. With expertise in a particular type of dance such as jazz, ballet, modern dance, ballroom or tap, some excel in more than one of these dance forms.

We are most familiar with the dance profession having dancers perform on stage, in movies, on television, in music videos, at theme parks, and on cruise ships, but performance is not the only career option. A variety of career paths and jobs are open to dance majors, no matter what dance form they specialize in. Dance majors bring a wealth of workplace skills besides pointe work and jazz hands to the table.

Career Paths for Dance Majors

For many dance majors, performing is an obvious career path. In today's world, the list of arts organizations that hire dancers goes far beyond New York's Lincoln Center or the Bellagio in Vegas. From music videos and commercials to cruise lines and theme parks, the entertainment and service industry employs dancers, and employers are not limited to just Ballet companies, Opera houses, and Broadway theaters. Dancers are also much in demand in large-scale theme parks, Vegas productions, and smaller productions on cruise lines.

Education Requirements

For a job in Arts administration, usually, a bachelor's degree is required. An internship is more accessible with a Bachelor's degree or Masters of fine arts degree from a respected performing arts school. Additionally, it not only increases a dancer's skills and experience but becomes invaluable for networking (a lifeline in the small world of dance) Performance jobs value experience and training over diplomas.

Salaries in Dance

Dance performance jobs are not known to command high salaries. Arts organizations are typically non-profit organizations, and wages reflect that. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage was at $16.85 per hour in 2015. The organization also noted that dancers had a high on-the-job injury rate and a brief performing career. Professional dance companies offer slightly better wages. Choreographers earn an average hourly salary of $22.09

10 Great Dance Related Jobs for Dancers

Professional dancing is a challenging career path, and not everyone is made for it- an injury could bring your career to a halt, or you may feel drawn to another kind of job. Dancers are known to being resourceful, disciplined, creative, and intelligent with a multitude of skills that can be utilized in many different professions and here are some of the arenas with dance-related jobs that will quench your thirst to be in the dance industry.

Choreographer / Director

For many dancers who decide to step off the stage, taking the route to run their own dance company or choreographing for Broadway seems like the natural next choice. Many people find that they enjoy this creative line and are more suited to creating dances than performing them.

Search for grant programs in the city to fund your work and scout the local theater groups are often interested in hiring a choreographer for their plays or musicals as may be large scale entertainment companies who may need a choreographer for corporate or commercial work.

Within choreography you could become more specialized and become a dance notator, recording and preserving choreography and repertoire for the future, using Benesh or Laban notation methods, which take specialized training.

Lighting Designer / Set Designer

If you love the theater and have both an artistic eye and a technological bent of mind, a career as a lighting designer could be just the path for you.

Creating sets for theaters provide dance enthusiasts an alternate career choice where they can bring to life the sets that form the backdrop to dance performances. If you enjoy painting and are artistic, a set designer job might reap great dividends.

Stage Management / Production Crew

A good stage manager will have problem-solving skills (a must for crisis situations), excellent attention to detail and enjoys overseeing the multitude of people involved in a show. If you enjoy these aspects, you might be the type of person the dance world needs to run their shows!

Being on a production crew can use all those team building skills, and give you an insider view of what happens backstage, and the technological aspects may make you consider pursuing associated learning programs.

Company Managing / Administration

Company managers are at the heart of dance companies. From booking gigs to taking care of the accounting books from organizing international tours to seeking out venues, company managers make many of the critical decisions that keep the dance companies running successfully.

In larger dance companies, there may be many specialized roles, such as general office management, marketing, fundraising, etc.

Having been a part of the dance world, you will be able to relate more to the mechanics of how a dance production company world. You will enjoy the insider understanding of the arts in general, and moving to a desk job that is entirely dance-oriented will help you stay in touch with the dance industry without having to be as physically active as a performer.

These roles are excellent for those who are good at working on budgets and finances, scheduling meetings, setting up rehearsals or shows, organizing fundraisers. These positions are also immense support to the artistic director and the overall vision of the company.

Physical Therapist / Dance Movement Therapist

Physical Therapist / Dance Movement Therapist

The career of a physical therapist can be, and it is highly crucial in the field of dance. The job involves learning about the body, enjoying science, and working with people to help them achieve the goals they want.

Your understanding of what dancers need and go through on a regular basis with their bodies can provide you with insight an experience that is unmatched. Couple these with the natural empathy and you can be a compassionate physical therapist who can guide dancers through a healing process that goes beyond just the body.

You will need formal education for this career to get the full range of anatomy and kinesiology knowledge, but the ability to relate to a dancer and understand the dancer's body as a physical therapist is an invaluable gift.

Graphic Designer / Marketing For Dancers

Support dance by creating the images that draw people into the theater! Graphic designers work on website design and posters, and other visual merchandise are much required for dancers to promote their work.

The work of a full-fledged graphic designer involves designing and maintaining web pages, designing flyers and other promotional materials, while that of marketing is about promoting events through social media, and more. Get additional training through online courses or community classes, or attending college to obtain a degree.

Athletic Coach / Personal Trainer / Group Fitness Instructor

Athletic Coach / Personal Trainer / Group Fitness Instructor

Dance is an incredibly aerobic activity and has always been associated with fitness. For dancers who have enjoyed this aspect, some additional training can convert this passion for fitness into a career as a coach, either for private clients, cheer-leading squads, sports teams, fitness centers or dance studios.

Group fitness classes, especially dance based ones are all the rage because they are fun! 'Barre' classes use techniques from ballet to give students a full body workout and the dance party kind of exercise set to hot Latino music are hugely popular. If you like teaching, are energetic and innovative, you can turn your passion for movement into a teaching career.

Costume Designer

Costume Designer

As a dancer, you have been surrounded by costumes all your life. You have been trained to appreciate beautiful costumes, have an idea of what color schemes work and may even have noticed how fabric, colors, and patterns are brought together in costumes. You also know what dancers like and find comfortable. With this advantage, you can create costumes, dancewear, or clothing that is designed to be moved in or move well with the body!

Designing costumes can be an excellent way to stay connected to the world of dance and performance- you will be on top of trends and work in collaboration with directors/choreographers and often lighting/set designers.

You could even start your line if you are highly passionate about creating costumes or be a niche designer who is known for her one of a kind customized outfits. With online marketplaces such as Etsy and independent online storefronts powered by PayPal or Shopify, a brick and mortar store may not be necessary and lessen the cost of starting your own business.

Photographer / Videographer

Photographer / Videographer

As a dancer, you have been on the other side of the lens many times. With the keen awareness of movement you have as a dancer, you may have developed an innate ability to predict great photo moments or video framing.

Dancers are in constant need of photos for promotional materials, as well as for personal head-shots and dance based websites. Choreographers also need video record of their work for both archival and promotional purposes. So there is a definite market for those who are skilled with a camera and other avenues apart from dance that you may become keen on exploring.

Dance Teacher

Dance Teacher

Many college dance programs offer a K-12 certification that will allow you to teach dance in public schools, as well as other subjects. If you enjoy working with children, this can be a rewarding way to use the creativity of dance in an educational format.

Dance teacher roles are available at studios, in a public school system and colleges. Teaching a college dance program will need a Master's degree.

Teaching in schools and colleges give you the opportunity to remain creative through choreographing routines for class and performances regularly. Determine the age group you want to teach, as some will require extra training or college degrees.

The above career options are just a few to get you thinking about how you can explore avenues that are associated with dance but are non-performing roles. When scouting for new jobs, be sure to highlight and present experiences that honed skills like self-discipline, punctuality, dedication, creativity, kinesthetic awareness, team spirit and more.

Your dance career does not have to end with stepping off from the front of the camera. Your passion for the art and the life skills it has taught you can open new doors, build new bridges, and have a successful and happy life, no matter what you do. Keep networking, physically active and business savvy to continue 'dancing'!



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