Those wishing to be performers of many forms of western dance
have often had early Ballet training and may specialise in
Ballet and/or one or more other forms of theatre dance. There
are few openings for professionals in social dance other than
as teachers. Most performers work initially in the corps de
ballet in Classical Ballet or as part of a small company or
chorus. For some there are opportunities to become solo dancers,
particularly for non-Western forms of dance.
entertainment professions, including dancing, are crowded
and the number of aspiring performers exceeds the number of
professional vacancies. Opportunities in Ballet and Contemporary
companies are limited and many dancers find their first employment
in companies abroad. Dancers also find employment in pantomimes,
West End shows and musicals, television programmes, or on
cruise ships etc. The prospects in stage, television and film
fluctuate according to the popularity of musical revues.
performers are often assisted in their search for employment
if they are a member of Equity. Students currently graduating
from CDET accredited courses qualify for a student Equity
card. Full details can be obtained from the Equity.
dancer's professional performing life is usually relatively
short, unless there is a special talent which allows a longer
performing life. Many performers turn to teaching or find
an outlet in choreography, production work or other careers
unrelated to dance. Major dance companies pay annual sums
into the Dancers Resettlement Scheme, which is used to fund
(re)training applications for dancers who have reached the
end of their performing life.
are various ways of entering a career as a dancer and it is
difficult to lay down any rigid rules. Usually several years
training is required. For Western dance forms, there is some
debate about what type of dance should be studied initially.
Ballet is often the basis for other forms of dance and it
is likely that performers of theatre dance will have had some
form of Ballet training. It is more difficult to change from
other forms to Ballet at a later age owing to the particular
technique required, but sometimes this is done, particularly
by male dancers.
of the precarious nature of a dancer's career, students are
advised to take full advantage of their general education
and obtain as high a standard of academic qualifications as
possible. At any time it may be necessary to look for another
career because of injury, illness or other unforeseen circumstances.
Academic qualifications will help to widen the choice of alternatives.
children develop an interest in dancing by attending part
time classes while at primary schools. Serious training for
performers could begin as early as 10 or 11 (particularly
for would be ballet dancers), but full time training should
be undertaken from 16 onwards.
time courses are offered at dance schools throughout the country.
These offer lessons in one or more forms of dance and usually
prepare students for the examinations of one or more examining
bodies e.g. the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), the Imperial
Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) and the Cecchetti Society
Branch of the ISTD, the International Dance Teachers Association
(IDTA), and the British Ballet Organization (BBO). The choice
of training depends on the intended area of specialisation.
Students should ensure that their dance teachers hold nationally
recognised dance teaching qualifications. The organisations
mentioned above should be able to provide lists of local teachers
teaching their syllabuses. A directory of Registered Dance
Teachers is available from CDET for £3.50 (inc p&p).
pupils between 11 and 16 there are some full time courses
in Ballet and Musical Theatre at specialists schools which
combine dance training and general education, e.g. the Royal
Ballet School, Elmhurst Ballet School, Italia Conti Academy
of Theatre Arts and others. Most students continue with part
time classes while attending secondary schools for their general
education and then continue with full time dance education
and training at 16 or 17.
full time courses offer training in different aspects of dance
(such as Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, Musical Theatre). A
list of accredited full time dance courses is available from
CDET. Entrance requirements are varied and the prospectuses
from the various centres should be consulted. Students are
not necessarily required to have achieved a specific grade
for a GCSE/A/AS level, nor is the study of particular subjects
normally prescribed. Obviously, the study of relevant subjects
such as GCSE/A/AS Dance, Drama, Music, Performing Arts, Biology
or History would be useful. However, potential, performance
ability, physique and personality are far more important than
examination passes. A number of full time courses offer students
the opportunity to gain the necessary education and training
to succeed in a career as a professional performer or teacher
while also offering a BA (Hons) degree.
students may wish to follow a foundation course before applying
to a three year course. Foundation courses do not replace
three year full time course, but can be seen as a useful introduction.
The teaching of dancing can be divided into various areas:
the training of prospective performers; the teaching of those
who wish to become specialist teachers of dance; and the teaching
of dance as a form of recreation. Teachers may specialise
in one area of dance teaching or teach in a variety of areas.
The demand for teachers is high, particularly as dance is
enjoying a revival as a form of recreation. Dance is now included
as part of Physical Education within the National Curriculum
which could lead to an increased demand for dance teachers
in state schools. Many teachers find work in commercial dance
studios and professional dance schools, many also find employment
are many ways to become a dance teacher. Some people go on
to teach after having had a successful career as a performer;
others see teaching dance as their primary vocation and therefore
wish to train quite specifically as a teacher from the outset.
The information given below is aimed particularly at the latter.
training to become a qualified dance teacher it is essential
to receive appropriate training from recognised institutions.
There are various ways to qualify, depending on your own needs
and preferences. You may wish to teach dance in primary or
secondary schools through the National Curriculum, in a leisure
centre or in a vocational school. There are also many opportunities
for teaching dance abroad. If you are interested in this area
of teaching, you should contact the relevant embassy for employment
Teachers working in the private sector are usually self-employed,
based at leisure centres, or own small local dance schools.
Private dance teachers usually work through one of many dance
teaching societies. These societies offer a range of examinations
for children and young people as well as teacher training
programmes which lead to teaching qualifications. Some teaching
societies employ a Register of Teachers. Only teachers registered
with the society may enter children and students for examinations.
has approved the registration schemes of five societies. Teachers
registered with those societies may be listed in CDET's UK
Directory of Registered Dance Teachers which is published
annually. Copies available from CDET priced £3.50.
school and each society/association has its own method of
teaching and, once again, you should look for the system which
is most suited to you. Ask your own dance teacher about the
different methods involved, and obtain prospectuses for vocational
training courses which lead to teaching qualifications. Be
aware that these schemes only qualify you to teach as a private
Applicants for teaching posts (of virtually any subject) in
all maintained (state) and direct grant schools must hold
Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is awarded by the Department
for Education and Employment (DfEE).
in the State System
At present, unless you have achieved QTS you will not normally
be allowed to teach dance in state schools as a permanent
member of staff. You may be invited to teach classes or workshops
as a guest artist providing a teacher is present.
Main Routes to Achieving QTS
An undergraduate degree course approved by the DfEE. This
is normally a Bachelor of Education degree, but can be a Bachelor
of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree with QTS
or a post graduate course, normally a Post Graduate Certificate
of Education (PGCE).
Teaching - Undergraduate
There are two institutions offering dance with QTS. Bath Spa
offers a degree in Education with PGCE in Primary Education
in the fourth year. Dance is available as part of the BA (Hons)
in Education. At Chichester, the degree is a BA (Hons) QTS.
should contact the institutions directly to confirm admissions
requirements. It is compulsory to have passed GCSE Grade C
or above in English and Mathematics and Science (for those
born after 1/9/79).
Spa University College University
contact details click here>>
An undergraduate degree is usually the minimum pre-requisite
for a PGCE in primary teaching. Teaching dance in primary
schools is not usually possible with a degree in dance alone
owing to dance not being a National Curriculum subject. It
would be possible to be accepted for a course if half of an
undergraduate course had been in a National Curriculum subject;
so for example, a joint Honours degree in Dance and English.
If you are seriously considering primary teaching as a possible
career, but still want to dance, it might be sensible to consider
a joint Honours degree. You will need to have passed GCSE
English and Mathematics and Science (if born after 1/9/79)
with Grade C or above.
addition, you will also be expected to have experience of
working with children of primary age, preferably in the school
All institutions offering Secondary teaching qualifications
seek applications from those who are personally and academically
suitable for the teaching profession. Applicants should hold
a degree in the chosen teaching subject. Higher National Diplomas
(HND) or certificate (HNC) are not acceptable as the equivalent
to a degree for the purpose of a PGCE course entry.
is compulsory to hold GCSE Grade C or above in English and
Mathematics and science (if born after 1/9/79). Experience
of working with young people is also advantageous.
are two institutions offering PGCE in secondary dance teaching.
You should check with the institutions concerned for admission
contact details click here>>
Reference to University of Brighton only:
Whilst a degree would be the usual requirement expected for
PGCE entry, in exceptional cases, the University of Brighton
might consider an individual's experience and personal profile
where a degree is absent. The individual would need a breadth
and wealth of experience and have done a substantial amount
of educational work within a company. If they held a related
qualification in addition, this would increase their chances
of acceptance. It would still be compulsory for them to hold
GCSE Grade C or above in English, Mathematics and Science
(if born after 1/9/79).
Information on Teacher Training
Obtainable from the:
Training Agency (TTA)
and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)
Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR)
contact details click here>>
It would be possible to teach in further education (eg colleges/evening
courses) without having a degree. The work would be mainly
of a part time nature and it would be necessary to hold or
pass a teaching/learning certificate.
Many vocational schools (such as the Royal Academy of Dance
Faculty of Education, the Northern Ballet School and others)
run their own teacher training courses for dance. These courses
and others are accredited by CDET.
There is always the option to move between both state and
private sectors on a freelance basis which is common in community
dance. If you wish to teach other types of dance classes more
related to keep fit or movement to music, you can obtain further
information on courses from your local branch of the Sports
Council, the Aerobics Organisation of Great Britain or the
YMCA. Make sure the course you ultimately choose is recognised/approved
by an appropriate body.
CDET Member Societies:
Teachers of Dance
of American Dancing
Theatre Dance Association
Dance Teachers Association
Society of Teachers of Dancing
Association of Teachers of Dancing
Academy of Dance
contact details click here>>
Choreography is where dances from all forms are devised and
choreographers have been performers prior to becoming established
choreographers. It is possible to study choreography as an
option on many of the full time vocational training course.
Students should consult the prospectuses of the various institutes
in order to establish which course would best suit their interests.
is where symbol systems are used to represent the detailed
positions of the body. Tiny movements, as small as a wink,
can be written down, so that when the piece is performed again
it can be reproduced exactly.
systems of movement notation exist whereby all forms of human
movement can be recorded. Each system uses a different series
of symbols to represent the detailed position of the body
at any moment. The most wide-spread use of notation is in
the recording and rehearsing of the repertoire of dance companies,
who may employ a company choreologist (notator), although
some notators are employed in other areas, for example working
with the physically disabled. Company notators would require
a sound knowledge and understanding of dance, often accompanied
by some knowledge of music theory. There are two main systems
of notation: Benesh Movement Notation and Labanotation. These
can be studied as part of a full time performers course, they
can also be studied full time or by correspondence. For further
information contact the Benesh Institute or the Labanotation
Every company, dance organisation or funding body needs people
to run them and there continues to be a growing need for those
with both a knowledge in dance and IT (information technology).
are all kinds of vacancies in dance administration, ranging
from dance companies and venues, to funding bodies employing
officers with responsibility for dance. Many smaller dance
companies can only afford part time administration by one
person. Other career opportunities could include theatre administration,
front of house and box office management and publicity. Increasingly,
dance animateurs are required to have administrative skills,
and in few cases, specialist administrative posts are linked
to dance animateurs. A list of dance animateurs is available
from the Arts Council's Dance Department. Work may be available
for seasonal festivals, at commercial dance studios, community
dance centres and at dance schools. Dance knowledge can also
be useful for posts in local authority arts, sports and leisure
and entertainment skills.
you would like to work in this area, it is strongly recommended
that you acquire basic skills in typing and book-keeping,
and work experience if possible in areas such as publicity
and tour management. Lists of dance organisations and companies
can be provided by the Arts Council's Dance Department. Companies,
venues, dance centres and festivals are usually grateful for
volunteer assistance. Work is often seasonal.
is available through the Arts Council's traineeships and several
colleges and universities (e.g. De Montfort University, City
University of Surrey) include practical attachments to dance
companies as part of their courses. There are also a number
of short and one day courses which are advertised in specialist
publications, as well as general courses in arts administration.
Animateur/Community Dance Worker
A dance animateur is often known by many different titles,
such as dancer in residence or dance worker in the community.
He/She is someone who works in community or education, in
order to raise the profile of dance activity locally and particularly
to encourage the participation and involvement of others in
a variety of dance activities. The precise role would be determined
by the funding organisation for the dance animateur and the
needs of the community/work environment.
Dance Therapy is where practitioners work with both groups
and individuals to enable individuals to come to a better
understanding of themselves or the world they live in through
movement and dance.
Dance Movement Therapy is the use of movement and dance as
a medium through which the individual can engage creatively
in a process of personal integration and growth. It is founded
on the principle that movement reflects an individual's patterns
of thinking and feeling. Through acknowledging and supporting
the client's movements, the therapist encourages development
and integration of new, more adaptive movement patterns together
with the emotional experiences that accompany such changes.
The dance movement therapist creates an environment in which
feelings can be safely expressed, acknowledged and communicated.
Dance Movement Therapy is practised as both individual and
group therapy in health, education and social service settings
with adult and child populations. Dance movement therapists
work with a wide variety of clients including people who are
emotionally disturbed, or have learning difficulties, those
with physical or mental illness and people who want to use
the medium for personal growth.
and further information is available through a number of centres/organisations,
e.g. the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance, Roehampton Institute
and Hertfordshire College of Art and Design. Many short courses,
part time and Summer courses are offered, for example through
the Association of Dance Therapists.
A dance critic may write for specialist dance publications
or more generally, daily publications such as national newspapers.
Not many critics would make a living solely from writing and
would be active in other areas of dance. A critic may have
studied dance at first degree/postgraduate level or may be
an (ex) professional dancer. Writing skills are obviously
important, coupled with a sound knowledge of dance.
So, if you are still considering a career in the dance profession
the main points you need to consider are:
on the dance form you want to follow.
what career you may want to pursue and check that the school
that you are interested in can train you for that career.
up your academic studies.
remember that although it may be hard there is no other profession