Dancer and Choreographer

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: < 5,000
Median weekly earnings: Varies
Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Contemporary Dance Performance is an exhilarating career and life choice. Whether you are performing in festivals around the world or dedicated to the creation of new and innovative art work. If you find yourself involved in such an engaging profession you will realise how rewarding it is to change people's lives and alter the cultural landscape.
There are currently around 500 professional dancers, choreographers and actors working in South Australia. Employment is largely in the Cultural and Recreational Services industry.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Dancer and Choreographer

Accredited (Award)

  • Ask a professional dancer when they first showed promise as a dancer, and many will tell you that for them it was never a question of “could I” but rather one of “when will I”. “Once I participated in a class and saw my first performance I felt compelled to go there and a need to be on stage”' says a professional dancer and choreographer.

    Artistic and Creative

  • Currently 24% of those employed in the industry have Bachelor degrees, 11% have Certificate III or IV, 15% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas. While 42% of the industry have no post-school qualifications it is highly recommended that further study be undertaken to remain competitive in the industry. To become a professional dancer, its necessary to complete some form of recognised training.

    Flinders University offers a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance)which incorporates the Certificate IV in Dance, Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance) and Advanced Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance). Students study concurrently at both the University and TAFE SA to complete the Award.

    The University of South Australia offers a Bachelor of Media Arts (Performing Arts) degree.

  • Other possible career paths for dancers include theatre management, costume and wardrobe design/making, theatre production or dance teaching.

    Some dancers are employed full time with companies such as the Australian Ballet Company, and contemporary dance companies. Many work on a freelance basis. They may find work in local productions and shows and often register with a local modelling or acting agency which may sometimes be looking for dancers. Although labour market forecasts indicate strong employment growth for dancers, industry sources stress that occupational numbers are small and only a small percentage of aspiring dancers secure employment in this highly competitive occupation. They also recommend that professional dancers be classically trained. If your heart is really set on working in this occupation and if you're prepared to travel interstate or overseas, your prospects may be brighter.

  • People, the world over, are moved and challenged by inspiring dance performance. It brings reflection and an uplifting impression to their lives. Professional dancers, true performers at heart, leave audiences spell-bound with their fluid actions, precise timed and commanding presence on stage. Dancers entertain us with the numerous genres of dance whether that is contemporary, ballet, ballroom dancing, jazz or tap dance. However, often they focus on one style of performance to gain mastery but are proficient at several.

  • Step into a dance studio where professional dancers train, and you'll soon realise how much effort a life in this career requires. Remember when you were last captivated by a seemingly effortless dance production? Countless hours of rehearsal would have gone into the performance. Its equally important that dancers do plenty of training to maintain their strength and stamina. To avoid injury and to maintain health, they must understand how the body works and know which foods keep their stamina levels high.

    Some dancers may be employed on a full time basis by a dance company. Like all other people who go to work every morning, these dancers go to the studio at the start of each day and practice. Those who aren't employed full time, maintain their fitness and practise dance movements while getting themselves ready for auditions for that big upcoming role. Dancers may be managed by an agent, otherwise dancers look for work themselves. High levels of competition make this an occupation in which having contacts in the industry is just as important as displaying good dancing form.

  • Dancers in the contemporary dance field today are a diverse and multi-skilled collection of professionals that travel across many borders in pursuit of rewarding and challenging work. They develop skills through engagement with a variety of artists that have distinctive and eclectic practices.
    As part of a dancers daily activities they may be required to participate in a range of training styles that vary from Contemporary to Ballet to Gymnastics. They may also be asked to work with voice coaches or singing teachers. The multiplicity in methods of preparation depends largely on the requirements of the choreographer/director or the particular works they are engaged in.
    In any rehearsal situation a dancer may be required to either learn choreography as created by a choreographer or more typically develop movement under instruction from a director. Varying combinations of self-devised or choreographed materials are used commonly and every director has distinct preferences and attitudes towards creative outcomes.
    Dancers are often part of creative team and are required to communicate with fellow dancers and other members of a creative team. This team may include musicians, actors, performance artists, visual artists, technicians and wardrobe people.
    The work is often very intense and may involve long and irregular hours, however, the work is often described by dancers as very satisfying physically, mentally and emotionally.

    For further information, contact:

    Ausdance (SA)
    Phone: (08) 8212 0825

    Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (SA/NT)
    Phone: 1300 656 512