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Professional Dancer

Challenge minds and bodies, create art and happiness

If you’re physically fit and you have a passion for and background in dance, then life as a professional dancer, or role within the dance industry, could be for you.

Career outcomes:

Career outcomes within dance can be split into 3 areas including performing, teaching, and roles within the arts and associated organisations.

  1. Performers

You could work hard and become an elite performer working with national and state companies.

There’s also work on stage and in TV, within smaller companies, with individuals (e.g. supporting musicians).

You might be lucky enough to be employed on a permanent basis, or you’ll be signed up with an agent who’ll find openings that you can audition for.

Freelance dancers must network, search for and attend upcoming auditions, and join professional associations who might put out announcements when positions become available.

Performance roles are highly competitive, so it’s possible that additional skills and experience in acting, film or TV production, could improve employment options.

The salary for performers varies hugely depending on the level and the amount of work. Job outlook states that dancers (full-time) is $71,000 per year. Glassdoor states the monthly salary at the Australian Ballet is $4,732.  Indeed lists the average salary as $79 per hour and Payscale lists it as $33.35 per hour.

 

  1. Teaching

Talented dancers could gain the relevant training and experience and turn to teaching, there’s a few options to consider.

  • Dance Teacher

With the right qualifications you some dancers choose to work in schools (primary or secondary) or within other training organisations. There’s also an option of opening up your own dance studio or school run as a small business.

Salary varies once again according to where you work and how much work you do, Job Outlook lists the average salary for private dance teachers as $58,344 per year. The average starting salary for school teachers in Australia is $65,000 per year.

 

  • Choreographer

Choreographers create original dance routines, develop new moves, and put together entire programmes for performances and shows. They’ll pick out the music, audition dancers and teach performers the routine. They also use their creative talents to help performers and producers reinvent established dances and routines, or provide new interpretations.

Job outlook lists the average salary of a choreographer as $71,000 per year.

  • Dance Therapist

Using their dance skills to create programmes to benefit the elderly, children and adults with special needs or some physical disabilities.

 

  1. Other

If performing and teaching don’t hit the spot, there are lots of careers related to the dance industry, where knowledge and experience of dancing may be required, they might include: administration, production, theatre management, public relations, backstage and other technical positions, costume design and making.

Note: In Australia there are also opportunities for those specifically trained in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island traditional dance styles to find work in each of the areas listed above.

 

Pathways

It’s to make it big in the world of professional dance without any formal qualifications. Dedication and natural ability are critical but learning and practising the techniques and disciplines is often desirable for lots of roles.

VET qualifications in Dance including Certificate I, II, III, or IV, and Diplomas and a background in dance lessons could get you a long way. My Skills list all the current qualifications on offer and will let you know all the registered training providers who offer the courses.

Dance academies offer VET qualifications and other intensive programs, providing opportunities for budding dancers to hone their skills and techniques. Entry to most requires applicants to pass an audition.

A Bachelor’s degree or post graduate degree could qualify you for teaching positions and some careers within industry listed in section 3 of the careers section above.

Examples of dance degrees in Australia include:

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at The University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Dance and Performance at Macquarie

Bachelor of Arts (Dance) at Edith Curtin University

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at QUT

Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance) at Deakin

Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance) at Flinders

Bachelor of Dance Education at ACPE

You could study other degrees with a major in Dance, if performing and teaching isn’t your dream, or you’d like to give yourself more career options, this could be a great idea.

For those intending to start up their own dance businesses, tertiary qualifications in business or marketing for example could be really valuable.

 

Further reading

There are lots of useful Associations and Societies that specialise in Dance or performing arts, they’ll have lots of useful advice and information. Here’s a few:

The Australasian Dance Association (ADA)

Australian Teachers of Dancing (ATOD)

Australian National Dance Association (ANDA)

Acrobatic Dance Association

You could also have a read of our blog “Pursuing a career in dance” for some useful information and tips.

Job growth in dance is strong (source: Joboutlook.gov.au)




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