Dance Career Field

Dance Careers Outlook

Dance CareersEmployment opportunities for skilled dance artists will continue to grow. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that employment for dancers and choreographers should grow about as fast as the average through 2014, although competition will remain keen. There are always more aspiring dancers than positions available. As with most careers in the arts, although the possibilities of success exist and excite the imagination, the possibilities of disappointment are all too real.

The employment picture is clouded by fierce competition and too few available positions. Typically, performers make ends meet by branching out. They find short-term jobs in television or industrial revues. During the summer they try to find work with a stock company at a resort or with a musical road company.

While the number of dance companies continues to grow, the number that employs dancers, choreographers, and administrative and technical staff with any regularity is remaining steady or declining, due to cuts in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts and other funding sources. In times of economic recession, less money is spent on leisure activities, and growth of careers in these fields suffers accordingly. The industry will grow in proportion to its ability to attract audiences. According to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, published by the National Endowment for the Arts, 20.1 million people in the United States attended a dance event in 2002—a decline of 8 percent since 1992. Other forms of entertainment that compete with dance include theater, music, movies, sporting events, computer games, and home-video rental.

Those who begin as dancers often find themselves exploring related opportunities, such as teaching or administration because their careers, like those of professional athletes, are likely to be limited as they grow older. Many people well trained in dance find work as teachers in performing arts schools or as private instructors. For those who do succeed, a career path often includes a variety of jobs. The areas of most promising opportunity are national dance and opera companies, music videos and television, film production, universities, and studio teaching.

Careers in Dance:

  • Dancers and Choreographers

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