On the Job
Dancers express ideas, stories, and rhythm by moving their bodies with music.
There is something magical and moving about ballet. The dancers are both delicate and incredibly strong. With grace, they stand "on pointe" - on their toes - and "pirouette" elegantly around the stage. They stretch their legs higher than what seems possible, and their arms flutter just like a butterfly's. The best dancers can make a song come alive with a story, or simply make us feel.Dancers perform in many types of productions. They synchronize body movements with music. They spend a great deal of time rehearsing on their own. If they dance with partners, they practice together and coordinate their moves. Some plan and choreograph routines for themselves and other dancers.
Dancers audition for parts in productions. During auditions, they are taught dance routines that they perform for choreographers. If they are selected for parts, dancers attend rehearsals. Productions usually require weeks, even months, of rehearsing. During rehearsals, dancers work with choreographers to learn and perfect their dance steps.
There are several types of dancing. Ballet is a stylized, traditional form of dance. Modern dance allows more free movement and self-expression. Other types of dancing are jazz, ethnic, folk, and tap. These last types of dancing are mainly used in musicals. Many dancers sing or act as well as dance. Dancers frequently appear in music videos.
Most dancers work with a group of other dancers or performers. Some top artists dance solo. Many dancers combine performing with teaching.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Train, exercise, and attend dance classes to maintain ability and fitness.
- Study and practice dance moves for a given role.
- Match body movements with music.
- Perform different kinds of dance for production, including classical, modern, and ballet.
- Work with choreographers to refine dance steps.
- Devise and choreograph dance for self and others.
- Rehearse solo or coordinate moves with partners or troupe members.
- Audition for parts in productions.
- May teach dance students.
- Stay abreast of trends.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Perform activities that use the whole body.
- Perform for the public.
- Think creatively.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Coach others.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Teach others.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Develop and build teams.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact. They often rehearse with dance partners and perform for audiences.
- Communicate mostly by talking in person.
- Usually work as a part of a group or troupe of dancers.
- Almost always work indoors, but may perform outdoors for special events.
- Work extremely near other dancers, coming into close physical contact.
- May be exposed to extremely bright stage lights.
- Must be very exact in their work and be sure all details are done so their performances are flawless.
- Repeat the same physical activities.
- Must learn choreography under tight deadlines.
- Work in a competitive atmosphere.
- Set their daily tasks and goals under the direction of others.
- May have periods without employment. Work depends on contracts obtained for individual productions.
- Generally work 30 hours a week, since six hours a day is the maximum time allowed for rehearsal and performance.
- May work nights and weekends, when many performances are given.
- May travel to perform.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Repeat the same motions.
- Stand, walk, or run, depending on the needs of the dance.
- Keep or regain balance.
- Bend or twist the body.
- Kneel, stoop, crouch, or crawl.
- Use their hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Be physically active for long periods without getting tired or out of breath.
- Use muscles for extended periods without getting tired.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Keep or regain the body's balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- Quickly and repeatedly bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Use muscles to jump, sprint, or throw objects.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- See objects in very bright or glaring light.
- While looking forward, see objects or movements that are off to the side.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.