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Dancer: Job description

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Dancers use movement, gesture and body language to portray a character, story, situation or abstract concept to an audience, usually to the accompaniment of music. This usually involves interpreting the work of a choreographer, although it may sometimes require improvisation.

Dancers work in a variety of genres including classical ballet, modern stage dance, contemporary dance, street dance and African or Asian dance. They may perform to a live audience or take part in a recorded performance for television, film or music video.

Many dancers follow portfolio careers, combining performance with teaching, choreography or administrative work in a dance company.

Typical work activities

Tasks vary from dancer to dancer, depending on the contract, but usually include combinations of the following:

  • preparing for and attending auditions and casting sessions;
  • getting ready for performances, by rehearsing and exercising;
  • performing to live audiences and for television, film and music video productions;
  • studying and creating choreography;
  • discussing and interpreting choreography;
  • learning and using other skills such as singing and acting - many roles, for example in musical theatre, require a combination of performance skills;
  • looking after costumes and equipment;
  • taking care of the health and safety of others, which requires knowledge and observation of physiology and anatomy, as well as safe use of premises and equipment;
  • teaching dance, either privately or in the public sector;
  • working in dance development and promotion, encouraging and enabling people, especially children, to become involved in dance and to understand and appreciate it;
  • running workshops in the community, for example with groups of disabled people;
  • undertaking administrative, promotional or stage management work, particularly in a small company or if setting up your own company;
  • liaising with arts and dance organisations, theatres and other venues regarding funding and contracts.

Self-promotion is also a significant feature of the work. This can include sending out your CV or photographs and footage, delivering presentations, running workshops or attending auditions and meetings.

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2015

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