What is a Dancer?

Would you like to use movement and dance to express ideas and stories? You may want to consider becoming a professional dancer!

There are many types of dance, such as ballet, contemporary, tap, jazz, ballroom and hip-hop. Dancers commit to years of learning, practicing and perfecting their dance skills. Some people with dance backgrounds become dance teachers or choreographers.

What does a Dancer do?

A dancer leaping through the air.

Dancers typically do the following:

  • Audition for a part in a show or for a job with a dance company
  • Learn complex dance movements that entertain an audience
  • Spend several hours each day in rehearsals to prepare for their performance
  • Study new and emerging types of dance
  • Work closely with instructors or other dancers to interpret or modify choreography
  • Attend promotional events, such as photography sessions, for the production in which they are appearing

Successful dancers need to have excellent balance so they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm. They also need to be agile, flexible, coordinated, and musical. Artistic ability and creativity are common characteristics found in dancers, as they need to be creative in order to express ideas through movement.

Professional dancers are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to work for many hours without getting tired. Most dance routines involve a group setting, so working collaboratively with others is important in order to have routines come together successfully.

Rejection after going from audition to audition can be very hard to accept, and developing the type of persistence needed to carry on along with a positive attitude is a definite must. Some dancers take on even more responsibility by becoming a dance captain in musical theatre or a ballet master/ballet mistress in concert dance companies, by leading rehearsals, or by working with less-experienced dancers when the choreographer is not at practice.

Dance takes a toll on a person’s body, giving dancers one of the highest rates of non-fatal, on-the-job injuries. Many dancers stop performing by their late thirties because of the physical demands dancing makes on the body. Non-performing dancers may continue to work as a choreographer, director, or dance teacher.

Are you suited to be a dancer?

Dancers have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if dancer is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Dancer like?

A dancer's schedule can vary, depending on where they work. Most dancers spend the day in rehearsals and have performances at night, giving them long workdays. Dancers may perform as part of a group in a variety of settings, including the ballet, musical theatre, and modern dance companies. Many perform on TV or in music videos, where they also may sing and act, or perform in shows at concerts, casinos, theme parks, or on cruise ships.

Dancers are also known as:
Professional Dancer Backup Dancer Ballet Dancer Ballerina Tap Dancer Jazz Dancer Hip-Hop Dancer Ballroom Dancer