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Dancers use movement to perform for live audiences or in recorded performances.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • ability in at least one form of dance
  • to have been dancing from a very young age
  • dance school training, like a degree or diploma
You could get a Dance and Drama Award (DaDA) to help with dance school fees. 

You can also get performing experience by joining a local dance company.

Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET) has more information on training and becoming a dancer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • talent and ability in dance
  • an excellent sense of rhythm and timing
  • concentration and the ability to memorise routines
  • the ability to work well with others

3. What you'll do

You’ll usually follow a choreographer's steps, although you might also improvise movements. 

You’ll specialise in a form of dance, like:

  • classical ballet
  • contemporary dance
  • modern stage dance, like jazz, tap, and musical theatre
  • African or Asian dance
  • street dance

You’ll spend time:

  • rehearsing
  • preparing for and going to auditions
  • going to dance classes
  • promoting yourself and finding work
You might combine performing with other activities like teaching, choreography, community dance, or arts administration.

You may be able to find work teaching other types of social dancing, like ballroom or line dancing, or entering professional competitions.

4. Salary

Your salary will depend on the amount of work you get and what you can charge. If you’re freelance, you’ll get paid a fee for each contract or performance.

The Independent Theatre Council (ITC) recommends that performers are paid at least £447 a week. 

Equity also recommends rates of pay for performers and other professionals.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Hours can be long and irregular. You’ll usually have classes and rehearsals during the day and performances in the evening.

You might perform in theatres, film or TV studios, nightclubs, hotels, halls and cruise ships. 

The work is physically demanding and you’ll need to practise and keep yourself fit even when not performing.

You may need to spend long periods away from home if you’re touring.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into choreography or teaching.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018