How do you become a dancer

How to Become a Dancer or Choreographer | Career Girls

Career Clusters: Arts, Audio/Video & Communications

What you need to know


Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, hip hop, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

What is a dancer choreographer?

Schedules for dancers and choreographers vary with where they work. During tours, dancers and choreographers have long workdays, rehearsing most of the day and performing at night.

Choreographers who work in dance schools may have a standard workweek when they are instructing students. They also spend hours working independently to create new dance routines.

Some of the things a dancer might do:

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

Some of the things a choreographer might do:

  • Put together moves in a sequence to create new dances or interpretations of existing dances
  • Choose the music that will accompany a dance routine
  • Audition dancers for a role in a show or within a dance company
  • Assist with costume design, lighting, and other artistic aspects of a show
  • Teach complex dance movements
  • Study new and emerging types of dance to design more creative dance routines
  • Help with the administrative duties of a dance company, such as budgeting

Watch this video to learn more from our dancer and choreographer role models:

What skills are needed?

  • Athleticism: Successful dancers must have excellent balance, physical strength, and physical dexterity so that they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm.
  • Creativity: Dancers need artistic ability and creativity to express ideas through movement. Choreographers also must have artistic ability and innovative ideas, to create new and interesting dance routines.
  • Leadership skills: Choreographers must be able to direct a group of dancers to perform the routines that they have created.
  • Persistence: Dancers must commit to years of intense practice. They need to be able to accept rejection after auditions and to continue to practice for future performances. Choreographers must keep studying and creating new routines.
  • Physical stamina: Dancers are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to rehearse for many hours without getting tired.
  • Teamwork: Most dance routines involve a group or pairs, so dancers must be able to work together to be successful.

Watch this video to learn more from our dancer and choreographer role models:

What is the pay?

The average pay for dancers and choreographers in the United States ranges from $10. 04 per hour to $47.62 per hour as of May 2021.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Employment of dancers and choreographers is projected to grow 31 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Many of the new jobs for these workers are expected to be in private dance schools.

A continued interest in dance and in pop culture also should provide new opportunities in venues outside of dance companies, such as TV or movies, casinos, and theme parks.

Dancers who attend schools or conservatories associated with a dance company may have a better chance of finding work at that company than other dancers have.

What education is required to become a dancer choreographer?

Many dancers begin training when they are young and continue to learn throughout their careers. Ballet dancers begin training the earliest, usually between the ages of 5 and 8 for girls and a few years later for boys. Their training becomes more serious as they enter their teens, and most ballet dancers begin their professional careers by the time they are 18.

Some dancers and choreographers pursue postsecondary education. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in dance, typically through departments of theater or fine arts. Most programs include coursework in a variety of dance styles, including modern dance, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. Most entrants into college dance programs have previous formal training.

Some choreographers work as dance teachers. Teaching dance in a college, high school, or elementary school requires a college degree. Some dance studios and conservatories prefer instructors who have a degree; however, they may accept previous work in lieu of a degree.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Dance.

Watch this video to learn more from our dancer and choreographer role models:



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The Ultimate Beginner Dance Guide

Do you want to be a good dancer? Well, you've come to the right place.

STEEZY has organized this guide to being a good dancer into 16 steps:

  1. Get inspired
  2. Warm up and stretch
  3. Study music
  4. Learn basics and grooves
  5. Take dance classes
  6. Train technique and execution
  7. Learn to dance with feeling
  8. Explore through freestyle
  9. Create choreography
  10. Find what makes you unique
  11. Stay growth-minded
  12. Kill it on stage
  13. Become a leader
  14. Collaborate with others
  15. Share your work
  16. Take care of your body

Keep reading to see how you can become a good dancer – starting today.

P.S. Ready to start dancing now – like RIGHT NOW? Head on over to STEEZY Studio: the best place to take dance classes online.

We have a 10-day "Intro to Dance" program that's designed to get you moving and grooving, step-by-step, so you can get down in any social setting and lay the foundation for any other type of dancing you wanna do.

Click here to take the first four days for free!

1. Get inspired

Whether it's your first week or 10th year of dancing, the key to being a good dancer is wanting to be a good dancer. Remind yourself why you think dancing is fun or cool in the first place!

This "why" is gonna keep you going in the times you feel defeated or lazy.

Feed your inspiration by watching dance videos, talking to your dance friends, going to dance shows – whatever makes you feel that spark again.

2. Warm up and stretch

Before you start dancing, you need to make sure your body is ready for it! Because trying to dance when your body’s cold and stiff is no fun.

Pulling a muscle and sitting out is even less fun. And getting seriously injured is no fun at all.

Warming up and stretching before you dance will help you move with wider range of motion and more control, and help prevent injuries.

Follow these diagrams for an easy, quick daily stretch routine: Do These Stretches To Help You Dance Better (And Stay Injury-Free!)

‍And watch this video on how dancers should and shouldn't stretch:

3. Study music

Training your body is just one part of becoming a good dancer. Studying music will to give you a much, MUCH better understanding of how dance to it.

Dance is, after all, your body becoming a physical representation of the way that music sounds. Those dancers that you watch that somehow become the music?

They do this by first understanding the sounds mentally. Read this to study dance musicality: What Is Dance Musicality?

And watch this video to learn how to count like a dancer:

4. Learn basics and grooves

Narrow down the styles you want to learn, and focus on the foundational movements of that style. Something that all dance styles have in common is a groove.

You probably groove all the time already! Do you bob your head while listening to music in the car? Do you go to the club and sway side to side to the beat?

Those are all grooves! Of course, there are so many different grooves – some have official names and techniques that you can learn.

Bianca Vallar teaches tons of easy Hip-Hop-influenced grooves in her "Intro to Dance" program on STEEZY Studio.

Practicing grooves and getting comfortable with how your body moves will make you look better dancing in class, at a performance, anywhere.

Carlo Darang talks about grooving and loosening up:

5. Take dance classes

Taking classes at a studio is a great way to learn choreography, practice performing, and meet new dancer friends! Not sure how to find one?

Use this guide for How To Take a Dance Class.

And if you're not quite ready to head to an IRL dance studio, try taking online dance classes, right at home.

In this video, professional dancer Alexander Chung shows you how to do just that:

6. Train technique and execution

Techniques and foundation are the ABC's of all movements.

Drilling techniques will ingrain that movement into your muscle memory, so you can just do those without thinking.

For example, doing Popping exercises will train your control, power, and understanding of your muscle groups.

Learning House steps will make you more comfortable with your footwork.

Ballet can train, well, pretty much every part of your body.

Whatever the style, focus on the elementary techniques first using this easy-to-follow training method:

7. Learn to move with feeling

Executing movement the way you want has a lot of different parts.

There are the technical parts (which you'll master through learning the basics of a dance style and taking lots of classes) and the artistic parts (which you'll learn by connecting to the music and finding ways to convey the feeling of a sound).

While it's important to start your dance training by learning the more technical building blocks that you'll need to move your body in a way that looks cool, confident, and relaxed, the next phase of your training should be focused on becoming THAT dancer –

The person who walks onto the dance floor or stage and makes EVERYONE think: wow, they don't dance to the music. They become the music.

To do this, you'll need to learn all about texture, which is how dancers describe how sounds feel.

For example, the sound of a cymbal being struck might feel sharp and sudden.

Or the sound of a bass note might feel intense and deep, like a boom that reverberates through your chest.

So when you hear a cymbal you might dance sharp and fast.

When you hear a bass, you might use heavy, grounded movements.

Learn more about texture in this video!

8. Explore through freestyle dancing

Freestyling is a great way to practice your fundamentals, get in touch with the music, and to explore the ways your body wants to move.

‍Here's a more comprehensive guide on freestyling: How To Freestyle Dance

‍If you feel insecure about your freestyling, then watch this video:

9. Create choreography

Making choreography is a great way to challenge yourself as a dancer.

You'll be pushed to come up with creative new moves, freestyle, and pay attention to music in ways you never did before.

Never made a piece before? We got you: How To Choreograph A Dance In 6 Simple Steps

‍Watch this video when you get stuck:

10. Find what makes you unique

The most captivating dancers are the ones who have found their own voice and learned to use it.

Think about your music tastes, develop your natural groove, embrace those weird poses your body comes up with.

Your unique style won’t just make you a better dancer, it’ll make you the best dancer you can be.

11. Stay growth-minded

Don't pigeon-hole yourself into a "type" of dancer. Let yourself explore all different kinds of dance, let yourself fail, let yourself keep striving for growth.

Read tips on becoming growth-focused! 5 Ways Your MINDSET Is Holding You Back As A Dancer (And How To Change It!)

‍If you’re constantly growing, even in baby steps, you’ll soon be at a level you never thought possible.

So keep growing, keep changing, keep evolving – one day at a time.

‍Scared of judgement from others? Watch this video:

12. Kill it on stage

Dance is a performance art – so being a great dancer means that you know how to kill it on stage.

The next time you're at a show or competition, or filming a video, bring out your best performance.

Try these tips: 7 Easy Ways To Kill It On Stage

‍Make sure all eyes are on you.

Read: How To Dance Bigger, Stronger, And More Full Out

13. Become a leader

If you want a push yourself even further, then consider being a captain or director of your dance team.

Not only will being a leader teach you management and communication skills, it's an opportunity to give back to a team and community that gives you so many opportunities.

It all starts with the 'why.'

Write your team's mission statement the help of the pioneers: Dance Leadership Tools From Arnel Calvario And Anna Sarao

14. Collaborate with others

We’re blessed to be surrounded by talented, passionate, like-minded individuals in our community.

Share the love by collaborating with other dancers – this can mean working together to create a piece, host a workshop, whatever!

‍Tips on joint choreography creation! How To Collab With Someone To Make A Piece

15. Share your work

It's not about the video. But if you worked hard on a piece or enjoyed teaching a class, do share! Your work can inspire someone else, and push you to create better.

16. Take care of your body!

Though our bodies are the very tool we use for dance, many of us neglect it.

A healthy, nourished, hydrated body will perform much better than a weak, stiff, dehydrated one in any dance setting.

Be a good dancer by keeping your body in optimal, dance-ready condition.

Do these things to be in tip-top shape: How To Take Care Of Your Body As A Dancer

‍Being a good dancer is a journey that looks different for everyone. Take the tips you need in yours to make your growth more focused and efficient!

We hope this helped you understand how to be a good dancer.

15 True Stories from the Life of a Professional Dancer

20 Feb. 2022

Go back

    No dancer has yet become successful based on innate talent alone. Dancers are artists and athletes. The world of dance today has become like extreme sports. Dancers have to work hard and diligently. They give years of their lives, plus their tears and sometimes blood, to have the honor and pleasure of performing on stage.
    We don't always get the part we wanted, walk on stage in the shoes we wanted, get the job we want, get the expected compliments, get the money we wanted, etc. This teaches us humility and respect for the process, for the art form, and for the people we have chosen to learn from. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we succeed. We are never 100% sure that it will work, but we can always be 100% sure that doing nothing will definitely not work.
    There is always information a dancer can learn. Even our least loved teachers, choreographers and directors have something to teach us. The moment we think we know everything, we cease to be a valuable asset.
    A dancer never knows when his dancing career will suddenly evaporate: company closure, career-ending injury, car accident... Dance every time as if it were your last performance. Don't save the fun of dancing for the stage. Infuse even your regular gym workouts with a passion for dancing!
    You cannot control who will hire you, who will fire you, who loves your job, who does not, the policy of being in the company. Don't waste your talent and energy worrying about things you can't control. Focus on honing your craft - being the best dancer you can be. Keep your mind open and your attitude positive.
    Knowledge comes from experience. You can discuss the task hundreds of times, go to 1000 classes, but until we get out of there and start dancing, we will only have a philosophical idea of ​​\u200b\u200bdance. Find an opportunity to get on stage. To call yourself a professional dancer, you must first perform.
    The shortest way to lose your job is to prove to your boss that he doesn't need you. On the contrary, be necessary. Show up early, know your stuff, be prepared, keep your opinions to yourself until asked, and above all, crave hard work.
    It doesn't matter if it's about work, money, roles or trophies. Instead of being sad about those around you, focus on the things you're good at, the things you need to work on, and the things that make you happy as a dancer.
    Everyone has a past. Everyone has made mistakes and everyone has stellar moments they would love to enjoy.
    "Will you keep leftover onions in your tooth just because you liked potatoes last night?" - The Boston Common series.
    Dance is an art form that forces us to focus on the present. To be a dance master, we must be present in the moment. The minute the mind wanders, injuries happen. If they happened, see point 12.
    Dancing alone cannot make us happy. The roots of our happiness come from our relationship with ourselves. Not on the amount of money, not on the role we were given, the company we dance with, or the number of competitions we won. Of course, these things affect our mood, but in the long run, who we are on the inside makes us happy.
    Dancers are in the public eye when they perform, and especially in this internet world, criticism abounds. You cannot be everything to everyone. No matter what you do, there will always be people who think differently. Therefore, concentrate on what your heart tells you. What others think and say about you is not so important. What matters is what you think about yourself.
    Sometimes, despite our efforts, following the best advice, being in the right place at the right time, we still lose. Failure is part of life. Failure can be the catalyst for some of our biggest growth and learning leaps. If we never lost, we would never appreciate success. Crave failure. When they happen to you (and they will happen anyway), take advantage of the lesson they bring with them.
    Every professional dancer has to work without pay at one time or another. If you are asked to work for free, be sure that you really agree with this. There are plenty of good reasons to work for free, and just as many good reasons not to work without pay. Ask yourself if it's worth the opportunity, if it's worth the experience, if it will bring you pleasure.
    Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is crazy. If you keep doing what you do, you will get what you get. If you do the bare minimum in class, don't complain to your teacher that you haven't progressed to the next level. If you give the bare minimum to your company, be glad you stay on the team. If you want to grow beyond your comfort zone, push yourself beyond your self-imposed limits.
    No one feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Dancers must be willing to take risks. From traveling the world to dance with a new company, to trusting a new partner to try out a new dance form, dancers must have an adaptable mind, attitude and body. The most significant opportunities in life force us to move outside of our comfort zones, which means you won't feel fully prepared for it.

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“I don't know how I would have survived at all if I hadn't been a dancer”

Yulia Aremenko is a choreographer, co-director and trainer of the Kherson modern dance studio “Insight”. In addition, Julia is the director of several dance performances, with which she performed not only in Kherson, but also in Kyiv, Kharkov, Odessa.

I talked to Yulia about what it means to be a choreographer and what are the features of this profession.

Julia, how did it happen that you started dancing?

As a child, even before school, I studied English intensively. My mother told me that being a translator is good, I believed her and thought that I wanted to be a translator. But at the age of 6 I began to study at the Kherson Tauride Lyceum of Arts, my mother sent me to the dance direction.

Dance classes were part of our school curriculum. The choreographers did not have physical education, but every day there was always a folk dance, classical dance or gymnastics. Somewhere in the second grade, I realized what was happening in general, I realized that I like dancing, and then conscious work began in this direction.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a choreographer?

I remember watching Eurovision and jumping in front of the telly. I realized that I didn’t like all these performances, and I said: “Mom, I would put it like this and like that.” And I had such thoughts that when I grow up, I will become a choreographer, that is, a director, and that I will work with adults.

Then I was already in the 5th grade of school. I came home, they bought me a tape recorder, and I listened to Bach's cassettes or Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. I ran out into the corridor (we had a large corridor, we lived in a private house) and "staged a performance." It was my usual childhood pastime.

You finished school and what happened next?

At first, I graduated from the Lyceum of Arts in the 8th grade, then I entered the Lyceum of Oleg Mishukov, also a choreographer - there was a higher level. Then, when the school came to an end, I decided to enter the Kyiv University of Culture.

Were your parents against your choice of profession?

We then had a conversation with dad. He wanted to convince me that I should go to the dentist. He believed and still believes that this is a prestigious profession, we have family friends who run their own dental center, and he convinced me that I would have money and a happy future if I also become a dentist.

But it was obvious to me that I wanted to be in a dance environment. I told my dad about this, he didn’t resist for long, said “well, ok”, and that’s it. And I entered Kyiv.

If you studied in Kyiv, why did you return to Kherson?

My studies in Kyiv were short. I spent a year and a half there and that's it. After the workload that I had at the lyceum, classes at the university seemed too easy for me. I transferred to part-time and returned to Kherson.

Did you come back and open your studio?

No, that was still far away!

When I transferred to part-time, I had a lot of free time, I got severe depression, I didn't know what to do. And I went to work in the newspaper "From Hand to Hand" as an advertising manager. Everything worked out so well for me! But in parallel with this, I still began to study modern dances. I joined my friends from lyceum times, and we formed a show ballet "D.TigerS", where I eventually became a coach.

At some point, this was not enough for me, and I wanted to do something of my own. My friend Veronica Polishchuk supported me. We have opened a dance laboratory "Power of Attraction". In addition, I graduated from the University of Culture, and began to teach at KSU, but dancing was more important for me than the university.

All this gradually led Veronika and me to the opening of the Insight dance studio, where I am now a co-director and trainer.

How is your typical working day?

I wake up and go to yoga in my studio. I like to practice, I come at 8 am and do yoga. Then at 10 o'clock several times a week I lead children's dance groups. Then I have a big break, I can set aside 3 or 4 hours for myself to rest, for example, go to a cafe, read what I want, relax. Or do work in terms of advertising posts on social media. networks. Then I go back to the studio and at 3 o'clock or 5 o'clock in the afternoon I start training, which lasts until the evening. I get home around 9hours of the evening.

How many hours a day do you dance?

Average 3-4 hours every day.

Do you have days off? Days when you don't visit the studio?

I have no days off. This is due to the fact that this is my business, and I do not have the perception that I go to work. There is a studio, there is a lot of creativity, communication, here, in addition to training, there are many master classes, meditations. I don’t even perceive spending time here as work, it is perceived as some kind of leisure.

Can you remember the last time you had a day when you didn't dance at all?

Only the travel period comes to mind. I went to Greece and Italy, it was in January and April of this year. It was budget travel, hitchhiking, couchsurfing, and somehow I didn’t even want to dance there. The rest of the time I dance every day, I can’t even remember the days without training.

How do you think the worldview of a choreographer differs from the worldview of other people?

I think it's very cool to be involved in dance. I don’t even know how I would have survived at all, how I would have lived if I hadn’t been a dancer. Because dance and work with the body (this is especially true of modern dance, since classical, folk dance, this is a completely different world) frees you from any clamps, helps to solve any problems. It seems to me that if I didn’t live all sorts of emotions through my body, then I would probably glue my fins together.

Is there anything you don't like about being a choreographer?

I guess it saddens me to realize that the body, no matter how well you practice it, is changing. Time passes, and how it worked at 20 and how it worked at 30 are already different things. The body needs more attention, it becomes heavier.

Have you thought about what you will do when you can no longer dance? Ballerinas, for example, retire at 35, do choreographers too?

In modern dance, everything is completely different. Now there are a lot of adult (old) dancers-performers. Apart from dancing, I am very interested in performing theater that does not involve high physical exertion. There is work with speech, work with a concept that is more important than dance. Recently, a female choreographer from New York came to Kyiv, she looks like just a grandmother, she is 70 years old, and she gave us a master class, performed, jumped, danced, rolled on the asphalt.

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