10 Dance-Related Career Paths for Dancers to Pursue
Working as a professional dancer is the dream for many. However, the reality can be highly competitive and a difficult lifestyle to maintain. It is also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to careers in dance. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, looking to start a side hustle, or want to utilize your dance training in a new way, there are a multitude of dance-related career paths that will put your skills and training to good use. Below, you’ll find ten career ideas to consider:
1) Dance Photographer/Videographer: There is a high demand for photographers and videographers that have a knack for capturing dance. If you’ve always been fascinated by photography or videography and capturing the human experience, try your hand at applying that to the art form you know best–dance. Grab a friend and offer to take some photos or videos of them to practice and begin building a portfolio.
2) Choreographer: Raise your hand if you’re constantly getting called out by dance teachers for changing the footwork or arms in class combinations! If so, chances are you might have a natural talent for choreography. Choreographers are needed in both the commercial and concert dance worlds, so there are various opportunities, funding, and training opportunities available. Challenge yourself to set a three-minute solo on yourself to begin finding your voice as a choreographer.
3) Fitness or Somatic Instructor: While becoming a fitness or somatic instructor may not be quite as directly related to dance as the other suggestions on this list, it is the perfect side hustle for dancers who are looking to make some extra money. A dancer’s mindset and skills are uniquely suited for teaching yoga, pilates, gyrotonic, or even zumba. Try researching teacher trainings and work-study or merit scholarships offered by local studios in your city.
4) Personal Trainer: Similar to being a fitness or somatic instructor, dancers make excellent personal trainers because they’re not afraid to break a sweat and push outside of their comfort zone. Clients will likely also appreciate your wisdom regarding techniques to develop long, lean muscles. Most personal training certification programs take around 6 months, however they are not necessary to begin working with clients.
5) Lighting or Costume Designer: A dance performance on a proscenium stage is nothing without lighting and costumes, both of which are key in effectively communicating the choreographer’s vision. As a dancer, you’ll know firsthand what is comfortable to dance in and how to engage the audience via subtle or dramatic lighting. If you’re interested in pursuing this career path, try reaching out to a lighting or costume designer and schedule an informational coffee date to pick their brain.
6) Stage Manager: While the stage production crew might be under-appreciated by many, a performance simply cannot run smoothly without a highly skilled stage manager calling the shots behind-the-scenes. If you have excellent organizational, planning, and leadership skills this might be the job for you. Try asking a stage manager at your local theater if you might be able to shadow them to get a better idea of what the job entails.
7) Arts Administrator: Small and upcoming dance companies are always looking for help with development, fundraising, management, event planning, and marketing. Arts administration is a great way to stay connected to the field. If you consider yourself to be a skilled multi-tasker and communicator, then arts administration might just be the field for you. Test the waters by applying for an internship or offering to help out your company’s artistic director for a reduced rate.
8) Dance Writer: Although some may say print is dying, there has never been a better time to become a dance blogger or critic. There are various online dance publications looking for writers with dance experience to share their expertise with the public. Next time you see a dance performance, take a stab at writing a review afterwards to get a head start on building your portfolio.
9) Physical Therapist: As a dancer, you’ve probably had to visit a physical therapist at least once or twice in your lifetime. While there are many physical therapists out there, few specialize in treating dancers. Having a first-hand understanding of the daily rigors a dancer’s body goes through gives you a competitive edge within the PT world. Physical therapy offices are often looking to recruit volunteers or may even offer shadowing opportunities for students applying to PT school.
10) Dance teacher: Becoming a dance teacher is one of the most popular career options for dancers, particularly for those who are mid-career, retiring, or taking a break from performing regularly. Teaching dance and training the next generation of dancers can be incredibly rewarding work, however it does require a great deal of patience and flexibility. Before pursuing a teaching job, think about what age you might want to work with.