Dance

Find out what it's like to be a professional dancer, and check the employment outlook and salary potential for this career field. Get info about training requirements for dancers, and explore degree program options in dance.

Is Dance for Me?

Career Overview

Dancers use their bodies to convey emotions, tell a story or represent music visually. There are a wide range of dance styles, including ballet, jazz, tap, modern or ethnic dance, among other styles. Depending on a dancer's specific interests and physical strengths, they may dedicate their career to one style of dance or a combination of several styles. Professionals in this field worked for a variety of organizations, including dance studios and schools, colleges and universities, recreation venues and performing arts companies. Some dancers even work among actors in musical theatre and film musicals.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professional dancers and choreographers held about 25,800 jobs in 2012 (www.bls.gov). The BLS expects employment for dancers and choreographers to see 13% growth between 2012 and 2022. However, limited funding to start new dance organizations will result in keen competition among dancers auditioning for jobs at established dance companies. As of May of 2013 and according to BLS reports, dancers had an average hourly wage of $20.00, while choreographers earned an average of $24.00 per hour.

How Can I Work in Dance?

Education Programs

Aspiring dancers who want to earn a college degree may choose from dance programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. According to the National Association of Schools of Dance (nasd.arts-accredit.org), most colleges require applicants to audition for these types of programs. Students enrolled in a degree program take a variety of dance and dance-related courses, both in the studio and in the classroom, including dance theory, dance history and how to devise choreography. Classes in music, art, theater and history are common electives chosen to broaden dancers' knowledge of the world and, subsequently, their performance range. Dancers enrolled in a college program usually earn a bachelor's degree in performing arts with a concentration in dance.

Graduate Studies

Students who already possess a bachelor's may earn a master's degree, which qualifies dancers to teach dance at the university level. For those interested in advancing their education even further, some schools offer doctoral degree programs in dance, which typically focus on its history and teaching techniques.

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