Is Being a Professional Dancer Worth It?

Many of us wish we were born with that certain “star quality.” We admire those who can carry a tune, those who can embody any role with ease, and those who have moves like Jagger or Misty Copeland. Whether a person is a triple threat or a master at just one craft, having a talent to entertain is never something that should be wasted. Watching a person create art while they do what they love most is one of the best parts of being human. The art of dance can be particularly moving, and the dedication it takes to become a professional dancer is anything but ordinary.

Becoming a Professional Dancer 

As with any talent, honing your craft is as important as your natural ability. Most professional dancers started out in the industry at an incredibly young age, many getting their training in specialized high schools or even at the collegiate level. For those looking to make dance more than just a hobby, starting professional dance classes early is a must.

Experts recommend ballet classes as the best dance style to begin with. Classic ballet teaches many foundational skills that dancers will need to carry them throughout their careers. The discipline that comes with this genre is especially important in the industry, as it teaches dancers to perfect basics before anything else. Striking a balance between precision and artistry is key to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the dance community.

It is essential to understand that professional dancers are classified as elite athletes and physical training is a main component of the profession. Dancers are required to have an immense amount of strength, intelligence and agility not only to boost their skill level but to ensure the longevity of their career. The swiftness of turn around times in the industry today demand a stellar choreography retention ability, while also requiring a readiness for change at any moment. The amount of fast-paced, non-stop movement many routines entail also call for dancers to possess a high level of endurance. If you want to get your big break as a dancer, know that fitness will be an integral part of your journey.

How to Get Noticed as New Dancer

Once physically prepared and technically trained, an individual who wants to pursue dance must figure out the route they’ll take to enter the industry. While many hopeful professionals opt for open calls and self-promotion, those who are really serious about their careers tend to enlist a talent agency. Agents can fast-track a dancer’s rise to success by being aware of casting calls and auditions that would be a good fit and using their networks to make relevant connections. The world of dance is vast and hard to navigate, and hiring an expert to advocate for you will better your chances of finding the perfect position for you to step into (or fouette, tap, or grand jete into).

Challenges and Words of Wisdom from a Dancer

In an interview with People Magazine, veteran dancer Diana Matos passed on some pieces of industry advice many of us wouldn’t even consider. As we mentioned before, Matos agrees that work ethic is as important as talent. She seems to belong to the school of thought that practice really can make perfect and paying attention in class can get someone farther than being a natural.

The now-34-year-old Matos has been dancing professionally since the age of 16, and she attributes much of her success to “getting in people’s faces.” Putting yourself out there as a new talent is vital to getting the jobs you want. Though the risk of rejection most definitely heightens, being fearless in the face of opportunity is what it takes to change your life. 

Not only will being relentless in your pursuits better your chances of making it, but dancers who take this approach will grow their networks. Matos noted that auditions aren’t the main path to consistent work and have started to become a thing of the past. She says the best way to guarantee a successful and steady career is to connect with a choreographer who likes your work and believes in your drive, and they will continue to hire you for future projects.

Taking on dance as your full-time job brings a lot of factors into consideration. A person not only has to have the drive and motivation, but the talent and artistry to carry them through. If they can strike this equilibrium, they then must be forward-thinking in securing an agent as well as outlining what they’d like their career paths to look like. So, is being a professional dancer worth it? We think so. You’ll just need to take the right steps to get started, and Discovery Spotlight can help.

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