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

  • Avg. Salary $20,705.00
  • Avg. Wage $30.97
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Dancers (5134) 
Interest Codes
The Dancer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

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


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


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

Updated May 18, 2021

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

  • Ballet
  • Modern / contemporary
  • Folk or ethnic
  • Jazz / swing
  • Tap
  • Musical theatre
  • Physical theatre
  • Ballroom (classic or latin)
  • 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 small number of professional tap, folk and ethnic dance companies.

Competitive dancers are judged by a panel using a points system, on categories such as:

  • Technique
  • Performance
  • Difficulty level
  • Costuming
  • Choice of music
Working Conditions
Updated May 18, 2021

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
  • Coordinate and time their movements and locations onstage with other dancers
  • Be extremely nutrition conscious

Dancers usually perform on indoor stages, but some events may be outdoors, at events or festivals. Performances are typically in the evenings, with some days having additional matinee performances. They will often need to travel, if part of a touring dance troupe, or for national or international competitions.  

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 18, 2021

Dancers need:

  • Excellent health
  • Physical strength and excellent conditioning
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-awareness of their own physicality and how to control it
  • Time-management and stress-management skills
  • The ability to think intuitively and creatively, as well as logically
  • The ability to take direction and constructive feedback
  • The ability to work well within a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The ability to learn quickly and to 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 May 18, 2021

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 professionals. In ballet, students should be on the professional track by their early teens. Dancers need to find their own niche but also must be versatile. They must understand their body’s capabilities and shortcomings. Some dancers, for example, do not have the bodily form and abilities for ballet. All dancers must find the type of dance most suited to their skills, interests and abilities.

To maintain a professional performing career, dancers must:

  • Practice and train many hours each week, year round, to keep their bodies toned and at their peak of athletic ability and quality
  • Have extensive understanding of their anatomy and physical abilities
  • Have a broad knowledge of nutrition and health, and live accordingly
  • Understand music, or at least have some music training such as classes in music listening skills and theory
  • Stay abreast of new training methods, choreography and new techniques, by taking time 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, and of 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. Advanced training is offered by a variety of private dance schools including Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Canada’s National Ballet School.

The School of Alberta 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 dance organizations.

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.

Related Education

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

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

Certification Requirements
Updated May 18, 2021

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 18, 2021

Dancers need good training and a well-rounded education to find work in their field.

Professional dance competitions generally do not award monetary prizes, and the few that do are rarely substantial enough to offset the ongoing costs of entrance fees. Dance competitions build dancer and studio reputations rather than bank accounts. Competitive dancers need other employment to finance competitions.

As a rule, dancers' careers are relatively short. Most professional dancers retire from performing in their late 30s. 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 continue to instruct students into their late 60s or even 70s.

Dancers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5134: Dancers. In Alberta, 91% of people employed in this classification work in the Educational Services [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5134: Dancers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated May 18, 2021

Many dancers work in other occupations to supplement their incomes.

Some professional dancers are represented in Canada by the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, although this is not a requirement. The association sets minimum salary levels that are recognized by professional dance companies. (As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.)

Dancers are part of the larger 2016 National Occupational Classification 5134: Dancers.

According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Dancers occupational group earned on average from $24.28 to $41.32 an hour. The overall average was $30.97 an hour. For more information, see the Dancers wage profile.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 18, 2021

Alberta Dance Alliance website:

Canadian Actors’ Equity Association website:

Cultural Human Resources Council website:

National Dance Council of Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated May 18, 2021. 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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