How to Be a Dancer

By Eric Hammer

So you want to know how to be a dancer? We'll assume for the moment that you are not asking how to be a dancer because you want to learn how to dance at your sister's wedding. Instead, you are probably interested in becoming a professional dancer - i.e. someone who gets paid to dance and who does it all the time for a living.

Becoming a professional dancer requires first and foremost a decision on what kind of a dancer you want to become. You need to decide for example if your interest is in ballet dancing, break dancing, ballroom dancing or some other kind of dancing.

Then, you'll need to decide on a dance school where you can learn how to be a dancer. You'll need to be extremely agile and willing to work hard at your profession. Professional dancing is an extremely competitive business and you need to be totally committed to the business in order to get the best jobs.

How Much Can You Make?

According to the bureau of labor statistics, the average salary for a professional dancer is $15.06 per hour. Of course, keep in mind two things with that number:

First, dance jobs are rarely permanent jobs. Instead, you'll be going from one gig to another and as such you may not have a steady income.

Second, professional dancers who land jobs working with big name performers (usually for rock and roll stars who have a team of backup dancers with them) can make significantly more than that.

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If you love dancing but can't find jobs or simply want to supplement your income, you could also land work as a dance instructor, helping ordinary people to learn the steps required to dance for various occasions. These kinds of jobs can often offer steadier work and better pay, however the work can be pretty boring since you are repeating basic steps for amateurs rather than doing professional dance moves.

You may also want to consider becoming a choreographer, which is not only a slightly better paying job ( a little over $20 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor statistics) but also a job where your creativity can shine through since you get to come up with the moves that the dancers under your care will be performing.

Finally, keep in mind that if you want learn how to be a dancer, you also need to learn how to have extreme patience. Dancing is a repetitive business where you'll be doing the same steps over and over again in or to master them.

Qualifications / Requirements

Typically, you'll need to attend a dance school if you want to become a professional dancer. While any school will get you certified, those wishing to get the top jobs should audition for some of the more prestigious schools such as Julliard.

First Steps

Start by studying dance moves that others do and trying to mimic them. Get to know how people move their bodies when they dance and then look for a dance school where you can continue your studies. Don't go to the local ballroom dancing school either unless you want to become a teacher yourself. You need much more experience than they would be likely to offer you.


Check out these helpful resources on how to be a dancer:

Bureau of Labor Statistics - Use the their search box (search "dancer") to locate information on what it takes and what the wages currently average. Become a Dancer - Lots of useful advice which offers much more detailed information on how to be a dancer.

The Ballet: How to Become a Dancer - A bit annoying to navigate since each piece of information is in a single paragraph on a separate page, however this site also has some very good information for anyone who wants to know how to be a dancer.

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