Careers in dance

Happy feet: 8 ways to start a dance career

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The dance profession isn’t just something that takes place on a stage or in a rehearsal room. In fact, careers in dance can take place in all kinds of settings including hospitals and art centres, backstage, in schools and community centres and even in offices. Of the estimated 30,000 people employed in the dance sector, only 2,500 are performers. Up to 22,500 go into teaching careers while the remaining 5,000 are employed in a variety of development and administrative positions, such as management, therapy and project management. Here’s a run down of just some of the career paths available to you…

Choreographer
How to get there?

Good dance training is essential to any choreographer. Many choreographers start out as performers in professional companies and gain experience touring and in rehearsal with the company and its artistic director.
Helpful information
The Council for Dance Education and Training (cdet.org.uk) holds a list of accredited dance training courses. These cover most types of dance from classical ballet to musical theatre and contemporary. Some training courses start at age 16, some at 18. Most last at least three years or more, though not all will result in a degree qualification.

Dance Performer
How to get there?
To succeed as a dancer you need to be creative, fit and a good performer. Extensive training and qualifications are required from a university, dance or performing arts school. Join a youth dance company and dance as much as possible,
Helpful information
Contact your local dance agency, council or arts board. A good place to start is Youth Dance England (yde.org.uk) who have a list of U-Dance providers and youth dance opportunities including workshops and auditions.

For more information on dance careers, The Council of Dance Education and Training (CDET) hold Careers in Dance events specifically tailored to meet the needs of young people in the 14-18 age range.


Dance Producer

How to get there?
Getting new productions off the ground requires a lot of hard work and a strong sense of entrepreneurship. A dance producer will normally hold a degree in Dance, Drama, or Arts Administration and have had plenty of relevant work experience – maybe as a performer or administrator.
Helpful information
Have a look at the Arts Council (artscouncil.org.uk) for job descriptions and arts business courses and opportunities.

Designer
How to get there?
You may work your way up through craft or assistant jobs in costume departments. To succeed, you will need a lot of experience (try local school and community productions to start), good contacts and an excellent work portfolio.
Helpful information
There are no set entry requirements, but most costume designers have a Higher National Diploma (HND), degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject such as costume design, fashion, theatre, design, art and design or performing arts (production). See the UCAS website to find art and design foundation courses all over the UK.

Community Practitioner
How to get there
Community Dance Practitioners work in a variety of settings such as youth centres, old peoples’ homes, arts, community and leisure centres. A degree in dance, vocational training at a dance school, a specialised Dance in the Community course is needed here.
Helpful information
Check our Dance UK (danceuk.org) for a list of all training provider’s, including private dance teaching associations such as the Royal Academy of Dance, Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance or the British Ballet Organisation.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions System (UCAS) have an online database of University degree courses at www.ucas.ac.uk

Teacher
How to get there
Anyone who wants to teach in a state-maintained school in England or Wales needs to gain qualified teacher status (QTS). To achieve this award, you need to complete a period of initial teacher training (ITT) at University.
Helpful information
Undergraduate degrees (BSc, BA) in areas such as Dance, Community Dance, Choreography, Education Studies, Physical Education could be followed by a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). There are only a few PGCE courses in Dance, but many teachers complete there PGCE in Physical Education. Alternatively, a BEd in Primary or Physical education may qualify you with QTS.

Dance/Arts Officer
How to get there?
Most Arts Officers at local authorities or in Arts Council offices are graduates in arts or arts related courses and some may have been dancers themselves. Their main role is in strategic planning, grant giving and monitoring dance activity in their area or region.
Helpful information
See Dance Producer or Community Dance Practitioner

Movement Therapist
How to get there?
Dance therapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation units and schools and use dance and movement to help people with a wide range of emotional, social, psychological and physical difficulties.

Helpful information
Dance movement therapists must have a postgraduate qualification recognised by the Association of Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMPUK) and a minimum of two years’ experience of at least one dance or movement form. Goldsmiths, Derby and Roehampton Universities offer qualifications in this field.

For more information on dance careers, The Council of Dance Education and Training (CDET) hold Careers in Dance events specifically tailored to meet the needs of young people in the 14-18 age range. The Universities and Colleges Admissions System (UCAS) have an online database of University degree courses at www.ucas.ac.uk. And finally, your dance teacher, Youth Company leader, or Local Dance agency will also be able to give you great advice on your future. Good Luck!