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Careers in dance are many and varied. When most people think of dance they think about performance - either the ballets they saw one Christmas on the television or a glitzy West End show like Cats or Chicago. There are many different performance opportunities but all require hard work and perseverance. Most people enter performance after a three year training in one of the vocational schools, but the number of aspiring performers exceeds the number of professional vacancies in major companies. Many graduates find initial employment in pantomimes, or companies abroad, although a few in the contemporary sector set up their own performance companies and tour when and where they can.

There are many different career options open to those interested in working in the dance profession including teaching dance in the community, state schools or in the little independent studios that flourish all around the country.

Dance Administration>>
Dance Animateur/Community Dance Worker>>
Dance (Movement) Therapy>>
Dance Critic>>

As well as all the information provided by the CDET, there is a great website available that offers free course and career advice for the creative industries. artsadvice.com is aimed at people working or wanting to work in the creative industries. The site contains information on what it's like to work in the industry, advice on how to get into the industry and information on how to improve your career prospects.

In addition the site gives you access to career advisors who can help you with a whole range of career or course queries. The career advisors can be reached by calling 0800 093 0444 or by clicking the 'ask an advisor' link on the site. Why not check out the website today?














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.

The 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.

Professional 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.

A 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.

There 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.

Because 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.

Many 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.

Part 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).

For 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.

Many 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.

Some 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.

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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 overseas.

There 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.

In 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 details.

Private Schools
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.

CDET 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.

Each 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 dance teacher.

State Schools
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).

Teaching 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.

The 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).

Primary 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.

You 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).

Bath Spa University College University
College Chichester

For contact details click here>>

Postgraduate Primary Teaching
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.

In addition, you will also be expected to have experience of working with children of primary age, preferably in the school environment.

Secondary Teaching
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.

It 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.

There are two institutions offering PGCE in secondary dance teaching. You should check with the institutions concerned for admission requirements.

University of Brighton
De Montford University

For contact details click here>>

With 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).

Further Information on Teacher Training
Obtainable from the:
Teacher Training Agency (TTA)
Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)
Rosehill Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR)

For contact details click here>>

Further Education
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.

Vocational Schools
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.

Useful addresses/contacts
CDET Member Societies:
Spanish Dance Society
United Teachers of Dance
Association of American Dancing
British Ballet Organization
British Theatre Dance Association
Cecchetti Society
International Dance Teachers Association
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
National Association of Teachers of Dancing
Royal Academy of Dance

For contact details click here>>

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Choreography is where dances from all forms are devised and created.

Most 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.

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This 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.

Various 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 Institute.

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Dance Administration
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).

There 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.

If 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.

Training 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.

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Dance 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.

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Dance (Movement) Therapy
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.

Training 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.

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Dance Critic
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.

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So, if you are still considering a career in the dance profession the main points you need to consider are:

Decide on the dance form you want to follow.
Consider what career you may want to pursue and check that the school that you are interested in can train you for that career.
Keep up your academic studies.
Look after yourself.
And remember that although it may be hard there is no other profession like it.

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