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How to Become a Dancer

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A dancer is someone who expresses themselves, themes and stories through dance movements. Dancers can perform either solo or as a group and can choreograph their own dances.

There are many different types of dance, such as: ballet, contemporary, tap, jazz, hip-hop, swing, country and western and ballroom.  Most dancers will start training at an early age, as with most creative professions you need the raw talent to begin with and can then develop further with practice.

Dancers can perform in many different settings, such as:

  • Films
  • Television and commercials
  • Music videos
  • Musical Theatre
  • Concerts
  • Opera
  • Schools

The majority of dancers will have to be of a certain height and weight.  This will all depend on the type of dancing that you want to do.  For example with ballet there are quite strict body requirements, such as being very petite.  However, with other dancing genres it might not be as important.

There are certain skills and expectations that will be expected of you if you want to become a dancer. 

  • Rhythm and memory – there will be plenty of different dance moves during one routine that you will need to memorise and of course if you haven’t got any rhythm you won’t be a very good dancer!
  • Enthusiastic, confident and passionate – this will all come across in your dancing, as it is such an expressive way of communication.
  • Able to take criticism – many dancers strive for perfection and cannot always take criticism well, but by taking it on board you can make yourself even better.
  • Have good flexibility, posture, balance and co-ordination
  • Patience and stamina – you will have to do a lot of practicing as you learn and perfect a routine.
  • Being able to perform and cope under pressure
  • High fitness levels and strength
  • Keeping yourself healthy – you need to take good care of yourself as dancing can be a strain on both your mental and physical health
  • Willing to travel and work long, unsociable hours – once again rehearsing will take up a lot of your time.  Also, many productions will involve travel and working weekends.

Dance Schools / Training

As most dancers will have started dancing at a young age, training and gaining qualifications will help to further both your development as a dancer as well as your knowledge of the industry.

There are different fields that you can get into with this profession, such as:  teaching dance, becoming a choreographer, teaching fitness yoga/Pilates classes and complementary therapies like massage and the Alexander Technique.

There are college and university courses available across the country, which can last between a year and three years.  You may need to audition in order to earn a place.

Benefits of freelancing

As a dancer you may find most of contracts are adhoc, classifing you as a freelancer. There are many advantages in becoming a freelance dancer, some of which include:

  • Job satisfaction and a sense of achievement
  • Flexibility and time management – you can decide when and where you want to work.
  • Greater tax benefits by being a freelancer
  • The opportunity to make more money

By using our Freelancer Calculator you can work out exactly how much you could potentially take home.

Finding work as a Dancer

As with most careers within the entertainment industry, this is a very competitive business to get into, there are also many different sectors to become involved with.  Some dancers choose to stick with dancing, others may decide to become a dance teacher or choreographer – these are jobs many dancers get in to when their active career comes to an end (either through age or injury)

Here are some useful suggestions on how to find work and market yourself:

  • Join Equity.  This is the UK trade union for professional performers and creative practitioners; by becoming a member you will have access to the latest jobs available.
  • Look regularly on Star Now. This is a website that provides the latest auditions and jobs.
  • The Stage.  This is a brilliant marketplace for jobs in the entertainment industry, including auditions.
  • Get an agent.  This way you are informed about auditions much quicker.  Though they will take a percentage of your earnings but will help to find you more jobs.  Have a look on EntsWeb for a list of dance agencies.

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