What is dance as a career

Is dancing your great passion, which you want to make your profession and with which you want to make a living? With this article we want to help you get into action. If you have read our information and tips, you will know exactly what to do in the second step.
The ambition and motivation of the dancers to want to get better and better are immeasurable. But they know why: they are driven by their passion for dancing. In addition, the competition never sleeps. The few jobs that can be found on the market are highly competitive. Therefore, not only an excellent physical condition is essential, but also emotional stability in order to withstand the pressure and criticism. But the industry also has its nice sides: Because professional dancers can engage in dance from morning to evening, stand on stage and inspire the audience. Many young dancers thus fulfill their lifelong dream.

# 1 What qualities & skills should a budding dancer have?

In order to become a professional dancer, the following aspects increase the chances of a beginner: A good body awareness, condition, flexibility and the mastery of basic dance techniques. In addition, young dancers should have excellent perception in order to be able to memorize the sequence of steps well and reproduce them flawlessly. Moving dynamically requires pronounced musicality and a good sense of rhythm. Trainees have to prove this again and again in improvisation exercises.


Don't worry, that sounds like many prerequisites at first. However, it is precisely these things that are practiced and optimized every day in an apprenticeship so that they do not present any difficulties later.

However, it is all the more important to start dancing early in order to master certain basics. This gives you a head start with entrance exams at dance schools or with your first castings. So if you have high ambitions, you should be very committed right from the start. The highest level of discipline, determination and an iron will are required.

# 2 What professional training is necessary?

“You are born to dance” - this is the opinion of many experts. For this reason, it is not unusual for many children to begin dance training - usually classical ballet - at around six years of age. Others don't get in until their teens, which is considered very late in the industry when you consider that a dancer's career usually ends in their mid-30s. The aim of a dancer is to develop a strong individual expression and to manifest a certain maturity in his dance style. If you start dancing early enough, you are already very advanced at a young age and ideally you have a big, long career ahead of you.


The best preparation for a career as a dancer is therefore dance training for professionals. This can be completed in the form of school training as a stage dancer by attending a vocational school for two to three years and taking a state final examination. Another option is to study dance at a college for three to four years. In the latter case, you also have the option of either starting your studies at one of the eleven state training centers in Germany or enrolling at one of the numerous private universities. Well-known training institutions are for example: the Palucca University of Dance in Dresden, the University of Music and Dance Cologne and the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen.

The following examples of Bachelor programs should give you an idea of ​​what is possible:

  • Stage Dance (Bachelor)
  • Music and Movement (Bachelor)
  • Dance, Context, Choreography (Bachelor)
  • Dance (Bachelor)

In a postgraduate course at the master’s level, you deepen the basic content that you received in your bachelor’s degree and usually specialize in a subject area, such as choreography. In this way, students increase their professional career opportunities.

What content is taught?

First of all, schools can specialize in dance alone, or offer dance as one art form among many. Each school also has its own focus: classic, modern or a mix. Depending on the dance style, trainees can choose special technical schools. Special ballet schools or academies represent such a special case. The training to become a ballet dancer is one of the most difficult in the industry, because the dancers not only have to meet certain physical requirements, but also perform at the highest level in the field of dance technique. Dancing with pointe shoes is the supreme discipline and requires a lot of practice. Due to the different types of schools and school profiles, the training content can therefore vary.


In the course of study, for example, scientific and practical content in modern dance, music, dance, art, choreography and acting is taught. Examples of specific teaching content can be found in the bullet points below:

  • Selection: variation, etude, foreign language
  • Stage project (research, rehearsals)
  • Supplement: voice training, singing, acting
  • International dance forms
  • Body work (dance medicine, body awareness)
  • Artistic process: dance, art, music history, stage production, choreography, composition, dramaturgy, stage law
  • Music teaching for dancers
  • Professionalization (stage technology, marketing)
  • Dance and choreographic projects
  • Dance technique (modern, contemporary and classical dance, tip dance, pas de deux, jumps, improvisation)
  • Dance mediation
  • Dance studies


In the practical phases, the students mainly hone their dance techniques in the various dance styles. In this way, they develop versatile skills and can also work on their personal motivations and goals. In order to make it easier for them to start their careers later, universities require the constant development of dance productions and their performances. This is a good practice for getting more experienced on the stage. Students also have the opportunity to acquire additional qualifications by completing internships or taking part in the numerous courses offered by internationally recognized guest lecturers, choreographers and other artists. In this context, universities offer the right environment so that students can make valuable contacts for the future.

What do I have to do to qualify for an apprenticeship?

As with most training courses in the arts, a written application is required first. If the selection committee likes what they read, the second step is to invite applicants to an entrance examination. Only then will it be decided whether individual candidates are suitable for dance training, based on their performance on day X.

If you apply to a vocational school for an apprenticeship, a secondary school leaving certificate or secondary school leaving certificate is required. To study at a university or equivalent university, the certificate of the general or, if applicable, the subject-specific university entrance qualification must be presented. There is an exception if special artistic talents can be proven. Basically, good grades in sports, music and foreign languages ​​are always an advantage.

In addition to the level of education, some training centers define their own admission criteria. So it can happen that a dance training in classical and contemporary dance is a prerequisite or a medical certificate must be presented that confirms that you are physically in the condition to take up dance training. In this regard, it makes sense to inquire about the documents to be submitted in advance at the respective school.

The examination committee has the task of testing applicants' dancing skills. To this end, the young dancers are asked to take part in group exercises, perform as a group and perform their own choreographies as a soloist. Depending on the school, certain dance styles (e.g. ballet, jazz dance, hip hop) are required for which one should prepare as best as possible. Applicants can then be called for one-on-one interviews.

TIP: Some schools have a specific dress code. In ballet, for example, girls are required to tie a bun, wear a black leotard, pink tights and pink slippers. For boys: jockstrap, black leggings, white tight T-shirt and black slippers. Pay attention to this information and dress accordingly for the entrance exam! If you show up with the wrong outfit, it shows little discipline, seriousness and reliability. Even if you can dance so well, that's a big minus point and can cost you your training or study place.

Current job offers for dancers can be found here.

# 3 How do I convince in the application process for a first job?

To get a job, there is hardly a way around auditioning. You can possibly avoid a written application if you have the right contacts on the dance jury, but that's about it.

In the casting or the audition itself, one thing counts above all: your dancing skills. The many years of your training are your preparation. If certain roles or choreographies are given, you should of course study them beforehand and find out about your potential employer. Choosing the right outfit is part of good manners - see our tip in the previous section (3.2.2.) - as is your full concentration and attention.