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Dancers express ideas, stories and feelings through dances. They may perform in many types of shows. These include musical plays, movies, television shows, or commercials. Many dancers also sing and act as they perform. Some dancers become choreographers. Choreographers are the people who create original dances.

Working Conditions

Dancers work long hours and often evenings and weekends. They may have to travel. There is a great deal of physical demand placed on dancers.


Earnings from dancing are usually low because dancers' employment is irregular. They often must supplement their income by teaching dance or taking temporary jobs unrelated to the field.

Helpful Skills and Subjects to Study

A broad, general education including music, literature, history, and the visual arts is helpful in the interpretation of dramatic episodes, ideas and feelings.

Related Jobs

Other workers who convey ideas through physical motion include ice skaters, dance critics, dance instructors, and dance therapists. Athletes in most sports also need the same strength, flexibility, agility, and body control as dancers.

Education & Training

Training depends on the type of dance. Early ballet training for women usually begins at five to eight years of age and is often given by private teachers and independent ballet schools. Serious training usually begins between the ages of ten and twelve. Men often begin their training between the ages of ten and fifteen. Most dancers have their professional auditions by age seventeen or eighteen. Training beyond this age is an important component of the careers of professional dancers, who normally have one to one and one-half hours of lessons every day and spend many additional hours practicing and rehearsing.

Job Outlook

Dancers face intense competition for jobs.

Sources for Additional Information

The National Dance Association
1900 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191

National Association of Schools of Dance
11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21
Reston, VA 20191