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Dancer

Dancers use their bodies to interpret feelings, ideas, moods, music and drama. They may perform alone or with others in a group, before live audiences or in front of television and film cameras.

  • Avg. Salary $22,528.00
  • Avg. Wage $32.21
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Professional Dancer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Dancers (5134.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Dancers (F034) 
  • 2011 NOC: Dancers (5134) 
Interest Codes
The Dancer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Dancers
METHODICAL

Interest in handling to lift dancers and use props; to practise and rehearse dance routines under direction or instruction to achieve desired interpretation and presentation

innovative

Interest in synthesizing information to co-ordinate body movements and facial expressions in synchronization with musical accompaniment; may choreograph own performances

directive

Interest in diverting and entertaining audiences through dance performances; and in training and exercising to maintain the required levels of ability and fitness

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Most dance disciplines have a modern and a classical (traditional) side. Professional dance disciplines in Canada include:

  • ballet
  • modern
  • folk or ethnic
  • jazz
  • tap
  • musical theatre
  • physical theatre
  • ballroom
  • country and western.

Most dancers in professional dance companies work in classical or contemporary ballet, modern dance or jazz. However, there also are professional ballroom and country and western dance duos, and a limited number of professional tap, folk and ethnic dance companies.

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Dancers spend long hours in rehearsals, training and practice. They may lift over 20 kilograms (for example, a fellow dancer). To avoid injury, dancers must:

  • maintain superior athletic conditioning
  • know their own capabilities and limitations
  • be extremely nutrition conscious.
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Dancers need the following characteristics:

  • excellent health
  • physical strength and excellent conditioning
  • self-discipline
  • self-confidence
  • time and stress management skills
  • the ability to think intuitively, creatively and logically
  • problem solving skills
  • the ability to learn quickly and remember new and old choreography and music.

They should enjoy using their bodies to express ideas, practising and rehearsing the same movements repeatedly, and entertaining others. Many dancers feel they are driven to dance because it is how they best express themselves.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Proper training by accredited instructors and schools is essential. Dancing requires tremendous passion and dedication plus years of continuous training, practice and hard work.

Dance is a highly competitive field. Of all the students who train as dancers, very few become professional dancers. In ballet, students should be on the professional track by their early teens. Dancers need to find their own niche but also be versatile. They must understand their body's capabilities and short comings (for example, some dancers just do not have the bodily form and abilities for ballet), and find the type of dance most suited to their skills and abilities.

To maintain a professional performing career, dancers must:

  • practice and train many hours each week, year round, to keep their bodies toned, in shape and at their peak of athletic ability and quality
  • have extensive knowledge and understanding of their anatomy and physical abilities
  • have a broad knowledge of nutrition and health, and live accordingly
  • understand or at least have some music training (for example, classes in music listening skills and theory)
  • stay abreast of new training methods, choreography and new work by taking time off each year for intensive refresher training with qualified teachers.

It is important for dancers to have a broad knowledge and appreciation of the arts including music, visual art and architecture as well as the history of dance. Many dancers can sing, play musical instruments and act. A working knowledge of lighting and costume design is an asset for communicating with lighting technicians, costume designers, and other production technicians.

There are numerous dance training methods recognized in Canada and advanced training is offered by a variety of private dance schools (for example, Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Canada's National Ballet School).


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

The School of Aberta Ballet offers summer programs for dancers ranging from beginner to professional levels.

Before enrolling in any program, aspiring dancers are strongly advised to discuss their career plans with experienced professional dancers and representatives of professional organizations in the field.

Versatility is key to a dancer's success. After completing their training, dance professionals must continue working with a variety of dance teachers and choreographers. This provides exposure to different interpretations, movements and styles of dance.

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Dancers need good training and a well rounded education to find work in the dance field.

As a rule, dancers' careers are relatively short lived. Most professional dancers retire from performing in their late thirties. With appropriate training, experience and certification, they may become:

  • dance critics
  • choreographers
  • art administrators
  • artistic directors
  • rehearsal directors
  • dance teachers.

Dance teachers need to remain in good health. Many dance teachers continue to instruct students into their late sixties or even seventies. 

In Alberta, 91% of people employed as dancers work in the Educational Services (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Educational Services industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Many dancers work in other occupations to supplement their incomes.

Some professional dancers are represented in Canada by the Canadian Actor's Equity Association, although this is not a requirement. The association sets minimum salary levels that are recognized by professional dance companies. (As of October 1, 2018, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour. For more information, see Alberta Employment Standards.)

According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Dancers occupational group earned on average from $21.91 to $39.09 an hour. The overall average was $32.21 an hour. For more information, see the Dancers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Dance
    • Music
  • English Language Arts
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Recreation Leadership
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 03, 2016

Alberta Dance Alliance website: www.abdancealliance.ab.ca

Canadian Actors' Equity Association website: www.caea.com

Cultural Human Resources Council website: www.culturalhrc.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Jun 01, 2009. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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