“Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.” ― Martha Graham

Dancing is an art that generally comprises of the rhythmic movement of the body and the face, usually accompanied by music. Dance has many different aspects to it. It is an exercise, it is a form of expression, a medium of social interaction and in some places it also has spiritual and religious connotations. The people who pursue Dance professionally are called Dancers. They are performing artists who perform at competitions, stage shows, video shoots etc. Dancers are paid professionals who perform in groups and alone. Dancers are involved in a variety of Dance styles, such as Hip Hop, Contemporary, Freestyle, Jazz, Bharatnatyam, Kathak etc. Even though different Dancers have very different schools of thought regarding dance, what binds them together is a passion and love for the art and performing.

Dancers, like most artists, have to face cut – throat competition. Their pay depends on their reputation, talent and ability. Dancers perform in dance companies as well as solo. It is a career with good growth prospects. Dancers find employment in dance companies, educational institutes, theater groups, television shows and movies. A lot of Dancers are freelance performers. Contrary to popular perception, Dancers spend most of their lives rehearsing and a very little part of it goes in performing.

What do Dancers do?

Dancers portray characters, situations and abstract concepts through their dance. They spend years learning and practicing their craft. They perform in stage shows, competitions, T.V shows and movies. Many Dancers work as Choreographers and get into creating new dances. A lot of them get into teaching dance in educational institutes.

The main job of a Dancer is to dance. Dancers perform in groups as well as give solo performances. They participate in competitions, perform in music videos and do stage shows. Nobody can become a good Dancer without performing. Performing gives you stage experience and confidence.
Rehearsals form a major part of a Dancer’s life. Dancers practice steps, create their own steps co – ordinate their movements with other Dancers. They work on their technique and weaknesses and try to improve in every way possible. Dancers rehearse a performance many times before they actually perform on stage.

Dancers often give auditions. Auditions help Dancers apply for jobs and competitions. They showcase their talents and try to give their best possible performances. These auditions can be in front of a live audience, like in the case of a reality show, or can also be in front of a dance company looking for new Dancers.

Dancers have to attend costume fittings and photography sessions. They also have to respond to make up calls. Such activities help in improving the quality of the performance as well as in promoting the Dance Company or the show.

Dancers work closely with Choreographers and try to interpret choreography in their own way and often suggest creative changes to the Choreographer, which may or may not be agreed. Contrary to popular perception, they are not like puppets in the hands of the Choreographer, as most Dancers put a lot of input in coming up with steps and modifying choreography.

Training and Exercise forms a major part of the life of a Dancer. Dancers need to have flexible, fit and strong bodies. Therefore it becomes important for them to constantly train themselves physically and exercise. A lot of Dancers are involved athletics and martial arts.

Dancing is a physically demanding career. This is the reason that most Dancers have to quit performing once they get into their thirties. But that does not mean that they leave dance. Most Dancers get into teaching dance at institutes and educational institutions. A lot of Dancers teach dance to sustain themselves while working as a performer. To know about the Top 7 Physical Careers, click here.

Dancers constantly study about different types and styles of dance and try to know both the theoretical as well as practical aspects of these styles. They research about new styles and try to practice them.

How to become a Dancer?

Dancers are talented performers who use their bodies to express ideas, stories, characters, rhythm and sound. They perform by making their bodies move in a beautiful, rhythmic and artistic manner for the audience’s pleasure. Becoming a Dancer is not an easy task, but if you have the talent and dedication, then there is no height you cannot reach.

Simply put, to become a Dancer, you need to start dancing. You should join local classes and learn as many different styles as possible. It is important to gain experience in different styles before you decide upon one. These classes are very important and will play major role in building the foundation of your dance skills.

You need to concentrate on co – curricular activities during your school if you want to become a Dancer. This does not mean that your studies should take a back – seat, as pursuing a degree in dance would require you to have completed your schooling with decent marks. Concentrate on music and dance classes and try to get into the team dance society in your school. Subjects like English and History can help.

Once you complete your schooling, you should choose to pursue a Graduate degree in Dance from a reputed University. Such a degree will give you a lot of practical as well as theoretical knowledge about the different kinds of techniques and styles of dance. You can also choose to pursue a Master’s degree if you want to study dance further.

Practicing physical exercises like Yoga, Martial Arts and Aerobics can be a great help if you want to become a Dancer. As Dancers need to have fit bodies and a lot of stamina, playing sports and doing Gymnastics can also prove to be a major help in maintain your body.

Rehearsing is really, really important if you want to become a Dancer. Practicing in school and dance classes is not enough. All good Dancers practice for hours on their own. It is important to try and create your own steps and copy other great Dancers. Research about different dance styles and try to practice them on your own.

Auditions are really important in the life of any Dancer. Give as many auditions as possible for Stage shows, Dance Competitions, Dance Companies, Movies etc. The more you perform, the more you’ll learn. But be prepared to face rejection. Most Dancers face a lot of rejections before they make it big. Auditions will remove stage fright and give you an idea about your weaknesses as a Dancer.

Networking is important for every artist, including Dancers. Meet as many important people as you can. Do not miss a chance to perform as you never know who might give you a break. Go and watch stage shows, talk to Dancers, meet choreographers and try and know as many people as possible in this profession.

To become a Dancer, it is important to show your talent to people and promote yourself. Posting your performances on video sharing sites like ‘youtube’ is a good idea. This will let people around the world know about you and will let you know what they think about your performances, weaknesses and strengths.


There are many institutions and colleges in India that provide degrees in Dance. The Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi offers a Bachelor’s in Performing Arts in Kathak, Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam. Bangalore University, Karnataka offers a M.A in Dance. Gandharva Mahavidhyalaya, Delhi offers excellent training in Kathak, Odissi and Bharatnatyam.

Most western dance styles are taught in private institutes like the Shiamak Davar Institute of Performing Arts and Danceworx. The Indian International Dance Institute offers 6 month and 1 year course in Dance. The ITA school of Performing Arts, Mumbai also offers great courses in various styles of Dance.

What are the skills required to become a Dancer?

Dancers are passionate performers who emote through their bodies. The most essential skill they require is talent. Dancers need to be determined and not lose hope. They need to have confidence in themselves. Physical and Mental toughness is a necessary attribute for any Dancer. They should have the ability to perform in groups as well as alone. Dancers need to have excellent communication and social skills. They need to have a creative brain that is capable of creating new dance steps. Dancers need to have stamina and flexibility. They need to be dedicated and should have the ability to pay attention to the detail of each dance step. Dancers need to be disciplined and should have an undying passion to perform and dance.

Is this the right career for me?

Dancers spend most of their lives rehearsing in dance halls for long hours. It is an unpredictable career that does not offer job security. Dancing is physically strenuous and involves continuous learning throughout your career. It can be very well paying if you become successful and can provide you with fame and the opportunity to travel the world.

If you’re interested in doing a regular job that offers financial security, and if you’re not comfortable with working and rehearsing for long hours and dealing with a lot of competition, then this isn’t the right career for you. But if you have the talent and the discipline, and if your interests lie in the world of glamour, and if you’re willing to deal with job insecurities and the physical strain for your love of dancing, then this might be an ideal career for you.

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Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.