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Dancer


Description

Most people love dancing. People dance at weddings, they dance at parties, they take lessons, they dance in front of their mirrors when no one's watching except their stuffed animal collection. Humans have been dancing for thousands of years, to express joy, sorrow, to tell stories, to communicate without words. Dancing is part of what makes us unique, but it is also something that unites people all over the world.

For most people, though, dancing is nothing more than a hobby. It takes a very dedicated, determined, and driven person to make dancing a life commitment. These people are trained in various types of dance, including ballet, modern, folk dances, jazz, tap and ballroom. They spend years learning different techniques, including how to dance solo as well as how to dance in a large groups. They learn how to express emotions, feelings, and ideas through movement.

Usually, at some point in their development, dancers will choose an area of dance in which to specialize. There are a number of factors which can determine where the dancer will focus. Though a dancer might love ballet, their body type may be more suited to modern or tap dance. Some dancers choose become educators and historians, and study only historical dances from certain parts of the world.

Dancing is not easy. It demands constant practice, a vigilance in health care, and a careful control over diet, exercise and practice sessions. There will also be hours spent performing the same steps over and over again, costume fittings, publicity, and touring with dance companies. Some dancers become involved in television work--this can mean some training in acting may be required.

Dancers are performers, and performing for people can be stressful, demanding on personal life and on emotions. Dancers also have to contend with the fleetingness of the profession, one injury, and their career as a performer can be over. Therefore, dancers are strong, both physically and emotionally. They are dedicated people who are able and willing to put their careers before anything else.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$12,880
 
Median Salary:
$21,100
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$53,350

  Interests and Skills  
Dancers need to be in excellent health, with strong muscles and good cardiovascular training. They should also dedicate themselves to eating well and abstaining from destructive behaviors. They should be very self-disciplined, motivated, and have lots of confidence in the face of criticism. They need to have good time and stress management skills, as well as creative thinking skills and the ability to learn things quickly. Most of all, they should love dancing, and have the desire to express emotions and stories with their bodies.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Practice and exercise many hours each week, all year long
  • Maintain a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Attend regular training courses to learn new techniques
  • Audition for parts, commercials, positions in companies
  • Regardless of whether or not they are training for an audition, or practicing for a role, dancers spend the majority of each day dancing. All dancers will work in studios, and on stage. The hours are long, whether or not the dancer is rehearsing or only training for an audition. They will dance alone, or with a group of dancers. If they are involved in a production, there will be some time spent learning new steps, trying on costumes, and consulting with choreographers, other dancers, and directors about the upcoming performance. There will be some travel, especially if they are part of a touring company or cast.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Dancers can work in a variety of places. Many will work for dance companies, which travel around the wold, performing ballet, modern dance, tap, folk and jazz. Some work independently as dancers, and take their talents to musical theater, the stage, nightclubs, film and television. Some jobs can last for a number of years, and some for only a few hours. Many dancers join unions or professional organizations, as well as take on other work to supplement their income until they get a well-paying, high-profile role.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Due to the competitive nature of the profession, dancers need some sort of skill or interest to pursue in case of injury, or when they become too old to dance professionally anymore. Many dancers become choreographers, while some become dance instructors with schools, or head up dance companies. Some may choose to open their own dance schools. Some dancers leave the field all together, and become actors, dancers, writers or fitness trainers.
 

  Educational Paths  
Dancers begin their training at a very young age, often as young as four or five. They may begin at a local dance school, and switch to a more prestigious dance academy if they show immense talent and desire. Ballet schools are linked to ballet companies, and this is often how dancers join companies. However, dancers who want to work in theater, television, or in less traditional dance companies can audition for the positions without having to go through the typical channels. Some dancers continue their training at universities, where they dance their way towards a bachelor of fine arts.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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