Dancers are famous (notorious?) for pushing themselves to the limit. We're always trying for more, so it can be difficult to figure out just when, where and—honestly—why we should take time to care for our bodies. The truth is, dancers can put off necessary care if they're afraid it might mean taking a break. So here are seven New Year's health and wellness mantras for a strong, centered 2017 (and 12 more ideas for a year full of breakthroughs).

I will: Cross-train, cross-train, cross-train.

We've said it once, we'll say it again: Cross-training is essential to the longevity of your dance career. But where to begin? First, think about what you actually like to do outside of the studio. Cross-training doesn't have to mean mindless miles on the treadmill and it will be a lot easier to stick with if you enjoy it. Check out these three pros, who found unique methods to spice up their routines.

I will: Listen to pain.

Sprains, strains and fractures are your body's way of forcing you to rest. Never push through the sudden onset of pain, something that feels sharp or cracking, or pain that persists for more than a few days. Resolve to tell your teacher or coach when something hurts, instead of shrugging it off. That kind of communication doesn't mean you're whiny or weak. You're taking responsibility for your own career and training.

I will: Actually go to the doctor.

Trust us, we know how difficult it can be to squeeze in a doctor's appointment when you're already over-scheduled. But your pediatrician can take an objective view of your overall health, noting things that might seem normal for a dancer, but unusual for a pre-teen (tendonitis flare-ups, anyone?). That said, your doc might be totally mystified when it comes to dance. Here are our best tips for speaking "dance" with your MD.

I will: Face my perfectionist tendencies.

Lots of dancers are "type A." We're organized, driven and goal-oriented. Learn to recognize the difference between healthy self-criticism (which helps you grow) and unhealthy perfectionism (which beats you down).

I will: Conquer stage fright.

Say it loud, say it proud: "This year I will not be paralyzed by stage fright!" And you can do it, by identifying what level of fright you have, and then taking concrete steps to address it. A few butterflies in your stomach before you perform are totally normal. Even pros still get nervous! But if your stage fright is interfering with your love of dance, it's time to tackle it head-on.

I will: Find the food that best fuels my body.

Hungry, cranky dancers can't focus, are more prone to injury and can't recover properly. Don't be that dancer. Instead, experiment with your meals to find foods that satisfy you emotionally (chocolate), nutritionally (broccoli) or both (mmm...STRAWBERRIES!). Take a peek at these four pros, who've found the right combinations to power through busy rehearsal and performance schedules.

I will: Give myself the R&R I deserve.

Face it. You may feel like Wonder Woman onstage, but you have to rest like any other mere mortal. That's why it's essential to schedule in some down time. Take a bubble bath, try these relaxing yoga poses, read a new book, catch up with a friend...there are a million ways to thank your body for helping you chase your dance dreams!

Here's to a fabulous 2017!

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We're reaching the time of year when the fatigue of Nutcracker, regionals and school haven't quite been replaced by late-season stamina and the mercy of winter vacation.

But guess what? You're almost there, and we've got your back. Here are a ton of tried-and-true ways to stay motivated and healthy through the tough winter season.


Don't go to bed hungry. Nothing's worse than starting a day of school/rehearse/homework/perform/homework/repeat with a calorie deficit. And when you're working in close quarters with a ton of other dancers, #hanger should be avoided at all costs.

(San Francisco Ballet, photo by Erik Tomasson)


Be a better understudy. Yes, you're dancing 13 performances of "Waltz of the Flowers," and yes, you're tired. But that doesn't mean you can slack off in rehearsals—especially if you're "only" an understudy. Show your professionalism by getting the sleep, fuel and healthcare you need to be your best, even when the spotlight is on someone else.


Address small aches and pains before they become full-blown injuries. Blisters and swelling come with the territory for dancers, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them. Nothing will sideline you quicker than an infected blister or Achilles' tendonitis.

(New York City Ballet, photo by Paul Kolnik)


If you're doing your hair on autopilot at this point, try switching things up with a new 'do. Or, use countless shows and rehearsals as a way to (subtly!) test out new makeup looks, like classy contouring, super-bold eyelashes or a shimmery glow.

Pre- and Post-Show

Reinvest in your warmup. There's having an active pre-show ritual, and then there's slamming down into the splits while scrolling through Instagram. Take 10 minutes before rehearsal for this quick total-body workout to center yourself.

Cooling down is as important as warming up. After class, rehearsal or performance, take a few minutes to stretch. Your body will thank you in the morning by letting you walk (maybe). When you have a little more down time, try these relaxing yoga postures.

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We all know that pursuing a professional dance career comes with a dose of healthy competition. But sometimes that competition isn't so healthy. Whether it's against others, or against yourself, it can feel too easy for a positive drive to spiral into a negative fixation.

Enter, The Whole Dancer Program. Designed by health coach and former dancer Jess Spinner, the program aims to support dancers in situations where dance friends and artistic staff fall short. Sure, you might have coaches watching your every move in the studio and onstage, but who's there for you when you're über-stressed about healthy eating, or struggling with doubt about casting? Dance friends can be great allies in certain struggles, but sometimes competition can cloud their support.

Shelby Elsbree (photo by Kenneth B. Edwards)

The Whole Dancer offers several tiers of programming, with units focused on healthy eating, stress management, self-care and more. The program is run remotely, with worksheets to fill out and turn in, and group phone calls with Spinner. Boston Ballet dancer Shelby Elsbree will also contribute advice from her career experiences.

The eight-week program runs from January to March and you can sign up here.

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(Photo courtesy Wavebreakermedia LTD/Thinkstock)

Excellence > Perfection

The annual post-holiday self-help craze is upon us—cue the gym memberships, health books, relationship advice columns and extra pointe classes. While committing to a New Year’s resolution can be a positive choice for many, it starts being harmful when taken too far. Perfectionism “becomes destructive striving when the goal, or resolution, is unattainable,” says Dr. Sharon A. Chirban, a sports psychologist and consultant to Boston Ballet company members.

Perfectionists come in all shapes and sizes, but certain dancers are more susceptible than others. Perfectionism is most common among what Chirban calls “precision dancers”—dancers involved in styles that require strict adherence to a set of standards, like ballerinas or dance-team dancers. “Forms that prioritize spontaneity and expression are less likely to breed perfectionist dancers,” Chirban says.

Try ringing in the New Year with an excellentist mentality, instead. Whereas a perfectionist seeks absolute perfection, an excellentist strives to be her most excellent self, which is an ever-changing target. (Are double pirouettes tricky for you? Be proud of yourself when you nail ’em, and don’t obsess over triples until doubles are no longer challenging.) An excellentist works toward self-improvement, understanding that the process—including mistakes and setbacks along the way—is more important than any end result. Instead of fearing criticism, an excellentist seeks it out, knowing that the only way to improve is to understand her weaknesses. “Excellentist dancers are usually more successful in the long run,” Chirban says. “They’re less likely to burn out or succumb to self-hate.”

Are you a perfectionist? Take this quiz to find out.

True or false:

1. You’re very worried about what others think of you.

2. You don’t enjoy the process of reaching your goals.

3. You criticize yourself when assessing your progress.

4. Even after you achieve a goal, you’re still afraid of failing.

5. When it comes down to it, you feel like you’re just not good enough.

If you answered “true” to most of these questions, it’s time to get your perfectionism in check.

Did You Know?

Crying can be good for your health. Beyond the obvious cathartic release of emotions, crying also flushes out built-up chemicals—such as manganese, a mood-altering mineral—leading to reduced stress and improved mood.

It can also boost your friendships. According to a study published in Evolutionary Psychology, tears are an evolutionary response, designed to draw others to you for compassion and support. So while you probably don’t want to become that girl who always cries in class, when the feelings hit, don’t be afraid to have a good sob.

Massage Tips

Soreness in the ischial tuberosity, or sitz bone, is (literally) a pain in the butt. In dancers, it’s often caused by a hamstring strain, and it can make it difficult to lift your leg to the front or side.

Try this self-massage trick: Sit on the floor with a tennis ball centered on one of your sitz bones. Use your feet and hands on the floor to balance as you swivel your hips in a circular motion, releasing any knots in the muscles and ligaments that attach to that area (including those oh-so-important adductor and  abductor hamstring muscles).

Eat This, Not That: The Common Cold Edition

When you’re dealing with a stuffy nose, sore throat and cough, you probably don’t feel much like eating. But your body needs fuel to fight off that pesky bug. Here are five foods to reach for—and five to avoid—when battling the common cold.

(Photos courtesy Thinkstock)

The Nice List

These foods will soothe your cold symptoms and get you back on your feet:

Chicken soup has a whole lot to offer. An electrolyte-dense fluid, it’ll keep your body hydrated. It also contains the amino acid cysteine, which relieves mucus buildup in your lungs. Most important, it’s easy to digest.

Garlic has antibiotic properties, and it’s been shown to lessen the severity of cold symptoms.

Green tea contains infection-fighting antioxidants, and its warmth can relieve a sore throat and ease congestion.

Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and can serve as a cough suppressant.

All-natural fruit popsicles can help you stay hydrated, and the coldness can help numb a sore throat. They’re also a great way to get some extra vitamins when fibrous whole fruits are too tricky to digest.

(Photos courtesy Thinkstock)

The Naughty List

These foods may irritate your cold symptoms or hinder your recovery:

Spicy or acidic foods may temporarily clear your sinuses, but they can also irritate your mucous membranes, leading to increased pain and discomfort in your nasal passages, throat and lungs.

Juice and other beverages with lots of added sugar can cause inflammation and weaken your immune system.

Fatty meats and deep-fried foods are difficult to digest, and your body can’t spare the extra energy. Plus, they can lead to increased inflammation.

Caffeine is a diuretic and a stimulant. What you need is hydration and rest, so steer

clear of soda.

Dairy may thicken the mucus in your throat, adding to your discomfort.

The jury’s still out on whether dairy is a true member of the naughty list. Some doctors say its protein and vitamin D can help boost the immune system.

Can't Sleep? Take a Breather.

After a day jam-packed with school, dance and homework, you probably feel exhausted by bedtime. But that doesn’t always mean sleep comes easily. Insomnia—persistent difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep—can be incredibly frustrating and stressful, especially for busy dancers.

While the age-old trick of counting sheep may be effective for some, others can get to sheep 1,000 and still be wide awake. The key is to quiet your thoughts so you can begin to drift into dreamland. Different tricks work for different people, but for many, breathing patterns are important. Next time you find yourself burning the midnight oil, try this simple breathing exercise:

• Exhale completely through your mouth.

• Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four counts.

• Hold your breath at the top for seven counts.

• Exhale through your mouth for eight counts.

• Repeat the entire sequence three times.

Why Focus on breath?

When you’re stressed or anxious, deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you down. Plus, focusing on counting the length of your breaths can distract you from whatever’s on your mind.

Gluten is a buzzword in the dance world—and the world at large. Lots of dancers are going gluten-free, hoping it will help them stay fit and gain energy. But not all gluten-free diets are the same, and some processed gluten-free products aren’t any healthier for you than their normal counterparts. DS chatted with two nutritionists to get the scoop on this growing trend.

(Photo courtesy Thinkstock)

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein naturally found in different grains, like wheat, barley and rye. Although it’s been getting a bad rap lately, gluten does have some good qualities. “It helps bread rise and stay moist, fresh and chewy,” says Joy Bauer, nutrition consultant for New York City Ballet. Gluten is also rich in protein—about 23 grams of protein per quarter cup. “That’s more than a palm-size piece of meat, fish or poultry,” Bauer says.

But in recent years, there’s been a rise in the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten. “Gluten is not the same as it was 5 or 10 years ago,” says Colleen McCarthy, a registered dietitian and owner of OnPointeNutrition.com. “Now there’s more gluten in processed food than ever before.” Modern agricultural practices blend varieties of wheat to create a hybrid that grows faster, produces a higher yield and bakes fluffier bread—but hybrid grains also have a higher gluten content. “We’re seeing a rise in health problems because our digestive systems can’t handle that much,” says McCarthy.

Why Dancers (Without Celiac Disease) Are Going Gluten-Free

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease, there might still be advantages to cutting gluten from your diet. Boston Ballet corps member Caralin Curcio, who has been gluten-free for four years, says she’s experienced a lot less inflammation since making the change. “During Nutcracker, I remember noticing that my feet still fit in my pointe shoes after the third show of the day!” she says.

Alice Klock, a dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, went gluten-free six years ago (when her sister was diagnosed with celiac disease) and felt a difference immediately. “Before, I was always starving on busy dance days, no matter how much I ate,” she says. “When I cut out gluten and started eating more gluten-free grains—like quinoa, spelt and chia—I noticed I could dance longer.”

The Drawbacks

If you eliminate grains from your diet entirely, you may risk developing deficiencies in vitamin B-12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and iron. Found in whole grains, B vitamins help your body convert food into fuel. “They’re a must for dancers,” McCarthy says. “If you’re not eating enough whole grains, you’re going to feel more tired. Gluten-free dancers should add in other whole grains, like faro and quinoa, and carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, beans, peas and lentils, to make sure they’re getting enough B vitamins.

Some people who go gluten-free also eat too many processed foods, simply because they’re labeled gluten-free. “You can end up consuming more sugar,” McCarthy says, “because the manufacturers have to replace the gluten with something else to make the food taste good.” She recommends flipping over boxes and bags to see what’s in them. “If there are more than five ingredients, put it back,” she says. Klock avoids packaged foods by bringing a rice cooker with her on tour so she can cook up batches of quinoa in her hotel room.

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Jessika Anspach in George Balanchine's Divertimento (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB)

Living with Celiac

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps member Jessika Anspach remembers being bloated and constipated after she ate anything with gluten. “I had this belly I couldn’t suck in!” she recalls. She felt tired, achy and puffy—almost like she had the flu. Then last year, Anspach got sick with a low-grade fever and missed two weeks of rehearsals. Her doctor ran some blood work and discovered that she carries two copies of a gene that predisposes her to celiac. “He said I had to be off gluten completely,” she says. “It’s not a disease you want to mess around with.” Left untreated, celiac disease can contribute to certain cancers, osteoporosis or infertility.

Today, Anspach follows a strict gluten-free diet and strives to be in the best condition possible. “I’m eating right for my body so that I don’t develop celiac disease. It’s not a choice for me.”


Jessika’s Favorite Gluten-Free Meals

Breakfast: shake with pumpkin seed protein powder and hemp milk, scrambled eggs, coffee with hemp milk

Lunch: veggies, like bell pepper, celery, cherry tomatoes and carrots, roasted

turkey breast, dried seaweed

Snack: mixed nuts, fruit, like an apple, an orange or a handful of raspberries

Dinner: fish, pork tenderloin, hamburger patty or slow-cooker carnitas, salad or fresh veggies, rice, sweet potato fries or roasted fingerling potatoes

Sweet treat: coconut milk ice cream

Do you ever wonder about life after dance? Whether you’ve been dancing for two years or two decades, the time will come when you have to—or choose to—hang up your shoes. But don’t stress! There are plenty of ways to stay in the industry you love. Check out this huge list of careers that keep you connected to dance. You might just find your next passion.



Stage Manager

Stage managers coordinate everything that goes into a production, from lighting cues to backstage calls.

Get hired: Many theater schools offer programs in stage management. Get additional experience in a local theater or as an assistant stage manager.

Average pay: $78,000/year


At performances, stagehands open and close the curtain; lay the marley floor; move sets, scenery and props; hoist scrims and adjust lighting.

Get hired: Many stagehands start out as carpenters or electricians. To get your foot in the door, call the local union and put your name on a list for big outdoor concerts that will be happening in your area, since these shows often need up to 300 stagehands at a time.

Average pay: $1,200–$1,600/week per show

Casting Director

Casting directors go through submissions and auditions to find dancers a choreographer and/or director might like.

Get hired: Casting directors are either self-employed or part of a casting agency. Intern at a casting agency to see firsthand how it all works.

Average pay: $73,000/year


Most dancers rely on agents to book their auditions and find them jobs. Agents negotiate contracts, make travel arrangements, secure rehearsal times and look out for their clients.

Get hired: In addition to having a degree in business, communications or public relations, it helps to know people in the industry, be a strong negotiator and have a good eye for talent.

Average pay: 10 percent commission fee for each job booked, though agents who work for an agency might get a base salary + commission, versus an individual agent who gets paid per job.

Personal Assistant to a Dance Celebrity

Personal assistants have to be everything: calendars, organizers, travel agents, food gofers and confidantes. They usually have to be available all hours of the day.

Get hired: You must be organized, attentive and responsible. Network and get to know the people who are close to the stars. Try to get a personal recommendation—avoid the “I’m your  number 1 fan” approach.

Average pay: $35,000/year

Broadway Producer

Producers run the business side of a production by raising money and marketing the show to get it off the ground.

Get hired: It isn’t what you know—it’s who you know. It helps to have knowledge of theater practices. Use your contacts to get on board as an associate producer, or sign up as an intern to learn the ropes.

Average pay: $92,000/year



Physical Therapist

These medical professionals help heal, maintain and care for dancers and their bodies. They often work at a clinic or on site at a school, company or theater.

Get hired: Most physical therapy programs require a bachelor’s degree. To practice as a PT, you must complete an accredited PT education program to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, and pass the PT state license exam.

Average pay: $85,000/year


Registered dieticians (RD) educate dancers by helping them establish healthy eating habits.

Get hired: You need a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into an accredited dietetic internship program. Typical programs take six to 12 months to complete; adding a master’s degree to the internship will take two to three years. You must then pass the national board examination to be certified. Many dance schools incorporate nutrition into their curriculum, and companies often hire a dietician to speak with dancers.

Average pay: $51,000–$62,000/year

Personal Trainer

Many dancers rely on personal trainers to strengthen, tone and stretch the muscles that are hard to target in a dance studio. Personal trainers often teach Pilates, yoga, Gyrotonic, weight training and/or stamina-building exercises to address their clients’ needs.

Get hired: Go through an accredited program to get certified in your fitness field of choice. Most gyms and clients will love that you’re a dancer turned personal trainer!

Average pay: $26,000/year. Some fitness experts average $34/hour, or $50/hour for a personal trainer. The trainer then usually gives a percentage of the client’s pay to the studio or club unless he/she works independently.

Performance Psychologist

Licensed performance psychologists provide coaching for dancers who struggle with performance anxiety, injuries and other stress-related issues. They offer exercises and techniques to help dancers get through some of their toughest moments.

Get hired: A master’s degree in sport or performance psychology and the completion of a psychology doctoral program are required.

Average pay: $88,000/year



Lighting Designer

Lighting designers work with choreographers, directors and set designers to create lighting for each scene. (Lighting technicians are stagehands who change lights, operate the board and run the spotlight.)

Get hired: You don’t need certifications to be a lighting designer, but you do need experience in the field. Volunteer with a local theater production or go to theater school, take classes in lighting design and get involved with school productions. Many lighting designers start out as theater electricians before trying their hand at design.

Average pay: $47,000/year

Set Designer

Set designers collaborate with choreographers, directors, stage managers and lighting designers to help create the look of a show.

Get hired: Many set designers have a degree in architecture or interior design. Start as a designer’s assistant, or work as a prop maker to get hands-on training.

Average pay: $54,000/year

Music Editor

Music editors create tracks for dance pieces. They use computer software to cut and paste sections of a song, adjust the volume, make tempo changes and smooth out transitions.

Get hired: Offer your services for free to gain experience and get your name out. If you know someone who edits music, ask to be an assistant or intern so you can learn the technique. It helps to be tech savvy since most editing is done on a computer or mixing board.

Average pay: $38,000–$68,000/year

Costume Designer/Seamstress

Costume designers determine what the dancers will wear, and seamstresses help with construction and fittings.

Get hired: Most costume designers have a fashion or costume design degree. You must have excellent sewing skills and an understanding of how materials fit and move on a dancer. Submit samples of your designs to choreographers whose work might match your style. To find a seamstress position, try contacting a dance school or company’s costume department to see if they need sewers or assistants.

Average pay: $29,000–$64,000/year

Dance Photographer

Dance photographers take pictures in the studio, backstage and during rehearsals and performances.

Get hired: Photography classes are helpful. You can also assist other photographers and watch their techniques. It helps to know the style of dance you’re watching so you understand what to capture. Once you gain experience, apply for jobs emphasizing your dance experience.

Average pay: $25,000/year

Hair and Makeup Artist

Hair and makeup artists paint, pin and style dancers so they look fantastic for a show

or photo shoot. They might also create special effects by gluing on artificial pieces and prosthetics.

Get hired: It’s not necessary to have a license, but it helps to study makeup or cosmetology. To get your foot in the door, offer to substitute or be on-call at an amateur production. You can also get experience at student theaters, in charity fashion shows or by working with established makeup artists and photographers.

Average pay: $29,000–$67,000/year

Freelance Choreographer

Freelance choreographers are commissioned by individual artists as well as companies with big budgets.

Get hired: Choreographers typically specialize in a particular style of dance. Market yourself to find people who might fund your next project. Ask dancers to “workshop” and find space to experiment. If you have the dancers’ permission, tape the end result and use it as a marketing tool.

Average pay: $45,000/year. Small companies usually pay $3,000–$10,000 per commission. Major companies pay anywhere from $12,500–$30,000 based on your experience.



Company Publicist

Dance company publicists are responsible for promoting the company and its dancers. They shape the group’s image by writing press releases, helping with media campaigns and

coordinating media interviews.

Get hired: You need a degree in communications, public relations, business or marketing.

Average pay: $62,000/year

Development, Marketing or Administrative Assistant

Working on the administrative side of a dance-related nonprofit or dance company means you’re helping to sustain and promote the organization. You’ll fundraise, brainstorm and develop marketing campaigns, or assist with anything the directors might need. You may also be responsible for managing the company’s social media accounts.

Get hired: A degree in marketing or communications is helpful. Find job opportunities on company websites or via word of mouth.

Average pay: $32,000–$45,000/year


(courtesy Tawney Giles)

Dance Writer or Editor

There are many ways to write about dance: You can start your own blog, write a book about your favorite dance topic or work for a fantastic magazine like DS! Editors do a lot of writing, but they also plan and edit material that will be published.

Get hired: It helps to have taken college courses in journalism or English. If you want to work for a certain publication, get familiar with its style. Then submit writing samples, offer to blog for the website or apply for an internship.

Average pay: $30,000–$70,000/year

Competition Judge

A judge sits through every number at a competition or convention and offers constructive comments and scores, as well as special awards.

Get hired: You must have teaching and performance experience and knowledge of different styles of dance. You should be able to analyze, compare and rank each individual or group and provide helpful comments. Judges are often hired by word of mouth, so talk to dancers, teachers and friends to see who’s hiring and if you can get a personal recommendation. Contact the company you’re interested in to get a sense of their preferred application and hiring process.

Average Pay: $25/hour


Dance critics are accredited journalists with dance expertise. They are educated observers who watch performances and then write reviews to evaluate what they see.

Get hired: Dance critics need to have an extensive knowledge of dance and know how to craft a well-written review. It helps to have a degree in English or journalism. Start your own blog and review some performances, then submit your work to publications and offer to cover shows free of charge. Most major newspapers hire a dance critic as part of their arts coverage, and there are numerous online sites dedicated to dance that are looking for fresh voices.

Average pay: $41,000/year

Dance Historian or Archivist

Dance historians research the artform and write about their findings. They often teach courses as part of a school’s dance curriculum. Dance historians collaborate with archivists, who maintain and categorize historical materials.

Get hired: You should have a master’s degree or higher in dance history. Try to get your work published and apply for a faculty position at a college or university. Or work as a freelance writer and apply for grants to pursue research projects.

Average pay: $29,000–$94,000/year

Studio Owner

Dance studio owners run every aspect of the school. They develop their own curriculum, schedule classes, teach, address student and parent concerns and often put together student productions throughout the year. As business owners, they are also responsible for financial matters such as insurance, tuition, taxes and salaries.

Get hired: You should have a good business sense and be willing to learn as you go. You need financial backing or money to rent/buy a space and open a studio. Drum up business wherever you can: Do outreach at local schools, give demonstrations at the mall, call up local Girl Scout troops and talk to family and friends about getting their children involved.

Average pay: $67,000/year

Dance Teacher

Dance teachers train and coach students in all types of dance. In addition to planning classes, dance teachers must be aware of health and safety issues to prevent injuries. They are often required to choreograph for student performances.

Get hired: Be proficient in the style you want to teach. Some of the best teachers never danced professionally, but they know exactly what certain choreography should look like and they can express their ideas well. Take master classes and teacher workshops to learn and get fresh ideas. Prepare lesson plans in advance so that if you guest teach or apply for a position, you’ll know exactly what you want to do. To get experience, check with local dance schools, health clubs or community colleges to see if they need a dance teacher.

Average pay: $28,000/year or up to $75/class

Convention Teacher

Convention teachers go “on tour” as part of a team of well-qualified teachers, giving classes in large studios or hotel ballrooms to hundreds of students at a time. In addition to teaching in their style of expertise, they often teach choreography and evaluate students for potential scholarships.

Get hired: You need to have a name in the industry or know people who can give a personal recommendation. Conventions tend to hire dancers and teachers who are well-known to ensure that they get a big turnout in each city.

Average pay: $38,000/year


Dramaturgs are typically the first set of outside eyes on a new piece. They offer feedback, conduct research and help build and define the work by asking questions about the choreographer’s intent.

Get hired: Be knowledgeable about the style of dance you plan to watch and understand its historical and cultural context. While some people have a master’s degree in dramaturgy, others simply relate well to choreographers and are able help their processes. Start by working with student choreographers in a college dance department. Talk to other dramaturgs about how they find work, and try to build an artistic relationship with a choreographer you like.

Average pay: $500–$8,000 per project

Documentary Filmmaker

Documentary filmmakers make movies that tell true stories. Dance companies might hire a documentary filmmaker to follow a new work from its first

rehearsal to its opening night. Individuals might commission a film for historical purposes or to help promote a dancer or event.

Get hired: You should gain a thorough knowledge of filmmaking and editing. Take classes at a film school or find a mentor in the film industry to learn about the craft. Use your contacts in the dance world to find a project, or search for a financial backer and pitch an idea that’s close to your heart. Submit your finished documentary to a local film festival.

Average pay: $49,000/year





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