Dancers interpret ideas, feelings, stories or characters for audiences by using movement and body language mostly accompanied by music. This normally involves interpreting the work of a choreographer or a traditional repertory, although it may sometimes require improvisation. Dancers may specialize in various dance styles, including ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, or cultural dances, contributing to the vibrant world of performing arts.

Dancers typically do the following:

  • Engage in rigorous and continuous training to develop and maintain technical proficiency in dance styles, including mastering specific steps, positions, and movements.
  • Learn and interpret choreography created by choreographers, understanding and embodying the artistic vision of the dance piece.
  • Infuse emotion and expression into dance performances, conveying the intended mood, story, or concept to audiences.
  • Work collaboratively with choreographers, fellow dancers, and other production team members to bring a cohesive and dynamic performance to life.
  • Attend and actively participate in rehearsals, dedicating time to practice and refine dance routines, ensuring precision and synchronization with other dancers.
  • Maintain physical fitness and flexibility through exercises, conditioning, and cross-training to support the demands of dance performances.
  • Attend auditions to secure roles in dance productions, companies, or other performance opportunities.
  • Collaborate with costume designers and prop managers to ensure the appropriate attire and accessories are worn during performances.
  • Review and analyze personal performances, seeking feedback from choreographers or directors to improve skills and artistic expression continuously.
  • Participate in dance community events, workshops, and outreach programs to contribute to the broader dance community and inspire aspiring dancers.
  • Practice proper warm-up and cooldown routines and adhere to safety protocols to prevent injuries during rehearsals and performances.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to dancer:

dance artist
show dancer
contemporary dancer
stage dancer
ballet dancer
ballet and modern dance perfomer
singer and dancer
dance performer
soloist dancer
ballet and modern dancer
modern dancer
belly dancer
modern & ballet dance performer
modern and ballet dance performer
dancer & singer
ballet & modern dance performer
modern and ballet dancer
jazz dancer
group dancer
dancer and singer
modern & ballet dancer
singer & dancer
ballet & modern dancer
solo dancer
commercial dancer

Working conditions

Dancers work in various settings, including dance studios, theaters, performance venues, and on tour with dance companies. The work may involve irregular hours, intensive rehearsals, and performance schedules. Dancers may also engage in traveling for performances, workshops, and collaborations.

Minimum qualifications

To become a professional dancer, extensive training in dance is essential. Many dancers begin training at a young age and pursue formal education in dance, often obtaining a degree in dance or a related field. Dancers may also gain practical experience through participation in dance competitions, workshops, and performances. Continuous training and professional development are crucial for dancers to stay current with evolving dance styles and techniques. Many professional dancers start their careers by joining dance companies or pursuing freelance opportunities, building a portfolio of diverse dance experiences.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Dancer is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Dancer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to dancer.

dance répétiteur

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of dancer.

  • Labour legislation: Legislation, on a national or international level, that governs labour conditions in various fields between labour parties such as the government, employees, employers, and trade unions.
  • Intellectual property law: The regulations governing the rights protecting products of the intellect from unlawful infringement.
  • Acting techniques: The different acting techniques for developing lifelike performances, such as method acting, classical acting, and Meisner technique.
  • Be in touch with your body: The key aspects of applied anatomy, psychology, nutrition, physiology, and psychosocial studies and how they relate to the self-awareness of one’s body.
  • Theatre techniques: Understand techniques that facilitate a successful presentation of a play.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of dancer.

  • Perform live: Perform in front of live audiences.
  • Accept feedback on artistic performance: Accept feedback, proposed discussions and avenues of exploration about the precision of movements, rhythm, musicality, precision of the performance, interaction with peers and stage elements, areas requiring improvement. Take feedback into account to develop the potential as a performer. Note the choreographers/repetiteur/dance master instructions, the instructions of other collaborators (dramaturge, performers/dancers peers, musicians, etc.) assuring being in the same page with direction team.
  • Check the production schedule: Check the daily and long term schedules for rehearsal, training, performances, season, tour, etc., taking into account the project timeline and all the preparations required by the production.
  • Dance: Perform in artistic productions of differents disciplines such as classical ballet, modern dance, contemporary dance, early dance, ethnic dance, folk dance, acrobatic dances and street dance.
  • Work with a dance team: Work with the dance direction and artistic team ensuring smooth cooperation.
  • Develop an artistic approach to your interpretation: Contribute as a performer to the development of an artistic approach or creative project. Analyse and evaluate your own practice and expertise in general and in relation with the artistic proposal. Analyse the artistic approach proposed and describe your artistic vision for the creation of your role. Identify the components of the show developing the choreographer’s or director’s artistic intent and comprehending the character of the work. Participate in the creative process helping to prepare a production of the work.
  • Maintain dance training: Participate in training sessions and classes to ensure the highest possible level of technical proficiency, physical ability, and physical fitness. Identify the requirements of the work that orientate the goal of the training.
  • Maintain safe working conditions in performing arts: Verify the technical aspects of your workspace, costumes, props, etc. Eliminate potential hazards in your workspace or performance. Intervene actively in cases of accidents or illness.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Manage personal professional development: Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.
  • Interact with an audience: Convey the artistic values of the art form(s). Respond to the reactions of your audience and involve them.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Work with broad variety of personalities: Be flexible and work with a broad mix of personalities.
  • Perform fast changeover: Perform dress, hair, wigs and makeup changeovers during a performance.
  • Manage artistic career: Present yourself and your artistic approach. Position your work in target markets. Promote and market yourself and your oeuvre.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dancer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Musical genres: Different musical styles and genres such as blues, jazz, reggae, rock, or indie.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dancer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Work in an international environment: Guide your career to an international level which often requires the ability to interact, relate and communicate with individuals from different cultures.
  • Inspire enthusiasm for dance: Encourage and enable people, especially children, to become involved in dance and to understand and appreciate it, either privately or in public contexts.
  • Analyse score: Analysing the score, form, themes and structure of a piece of music.
  • Manage artistic project: Manage an artistic project. Determine project needs. Establish partnerships. Manage the budget, schedule, contractual agreements and assess the project.
  • Perform with motion capture equipment: Wear motion capture equipment while performing in order to provide multimedia artists with live material so that their animated creations resemble real movements, facial expressions, dance movements, or sports movements.
  • Direct community arts activities: Devise and deliver participatory community arts activities that protect the health and safety of yourself and your participants to be able to draw out the most effective learning. Take into account the whole experience of the art session.
  • Read dance scores: Read and note dance scores (if the choreography is notated or is reconstructed from a historical approach).
  • Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
  • Demonstrate specialisation in a dance tradition: Demonstrate an embodied understanding of dance and dance-making, and an informed artistic viewpoint of your chosen dance style, that enables you to reconstruct or create a choreographic work fully immersed in your selected dance tradition.
  • Declaim: Speak for an audience with the expression of rhythm and vocal technique. Take care that articulation and voice projection are appropriate to the character or text. Ensure you are heard without compromising your health: prevent fatigue and vocal strain, breathing problems and vocal cord problems.
  • Teach dance: Instruct students in the theory and practice of dance, recreationally or with the aim of assisting them in pursuing a future career in this field. Deliver correcting instructions that support difference and pay attention to ethical codes of conduct around touch, personal space, and appropriate pedagogic methods as a tool to foster participants.
  • Sing: Use the voice to produce musical sounds, marked by tone and rhythm.

ISCO group and title

2653 – Dancers and choreographers

  1. Dancer – ESCO
  2. Dancer job profile |
  3. What does a professional dancer do? | UK
  4. Featured image: Photo by Samantha Weisburg on Unsplash
Last updated on January 11, 2024