dancer teddy forance in a long sleeved grey shirt and black pants dancing in a blue studio

The Many Professional Paths For Dancers

What To Know Before You Start Your Dance Career

  • There are plenty of ways to begin your career as a dancer. You can choose to study dance in college, at a conservatory, or train and audition right after high school. There is no right or wrong path! Find what works best for you and your lifestyle and keeps you inspired. 
  • Even if performing is your end goal, it’s important to keep an open mind on your dance journey and know that there are plenty of paths for dancers, performance-based and non-performance-based. 
  • Each dancer’s path is unique and there’s never a certain level or status where it ends. As dancers, we are always students and the most important part is continuing to learn and grow as a dancer, and finding your unique path.

So, you’re absolutely in love with dancing and you want to continue to do it for the rest of your life? We get that! The good news is, there are so many different ways to start your career as a professional dancer. Whether you have a specific style that you want to focus on, a dream-job in mind, or you’re just starting to think about dance as a career – we’ve got you covered.

The unique thing about dance as a career is that every dancer has a different path to finding their way in the dance world, it’s about finding what works best for you and your preferences. There isn’t a right or wrong path when it comes to dancing – as long as you’re putting in the necessary hardwork and inspiring yourself and others while doing what you love!

To College or Not?

woman wearing graduation cap and gown speaking to a crowd

First of all, know that not everybody will study dance as a major in college and that’s 100% okay! While some dancers are looking for college-level training or a college experience, others want to start auditioning right away or join a conservatory program.

For dancers interested in auditioning and training after high school, a typical path involves moving to an audition hotspot like Los Angeles or New York to attend open calls and take drop-in classes while finding part-time work to support yourself. Likewise, some dancers will opt to audition for conservatories while they’re still in high school or right after to begin rigorous training.

Audition for the CLI Conservatory

The point is, college is not the end-all-be-all for professional dancers, and in fact, many professional dancers begin their careers without a formal degree in dance. It just depends on what you want to do!

Dance as a Career

silhouette of three women dancing in front of a red curtain

Professional dancers are known to juggle many different jobs, like performing in a company, freelance teaching, choreographing, or judging competitions on the side. Remember, it looks different for everybody! If you went to a conservatory for modern dance, you might start auditioning for modern dance companies. If you moved to LA right after high school, you might start taking workshops and classes while auditioning for commercial gigs.

While performing is something that many professional dancers spend most of their careers doing, it’s important to realize that there are plenty of different avenues in the dance world. Check out our list of all the different careers dancers can have, both performance based and non-performance based below:

Performance-Based Careers

  • Dancer in a traveling dance company 
  • Dancer in a musical theatre company or Broadway show 
  • Dancer in an entertainment venue like a cruise ships or amusement park 
  • Ensemble dancer at an Opera house 
  • Dance videographer / photographer 
  • Freelance choreographer 
  • Competition judge

Business / Administration

  • Start your own dance company or studio 
  • Arts Administration for a dance company, studio, convention etc 
  • Marketing for a dance company, studio, convention, etc 
  • Event coordinator for a dance company


  • Freelance dance teacher 
  • High school dance teacher 
  • College professor


  • Dance psychologist 
  • Art therapist
  • Dance medicine specialist 
  • Physical therapist

The best part about dance as a career? You are in control of where you want to go! If you start auditioning and decide you want to apply for a conservatory, what’s stopping you? If you want to go to college, or go back to college, you can do that as well! Some of the most experienced performers go on to earn their degrees in specialties like dance psychology, dance medicine, and physical therapy.

crowd of people dancing in the street in daytime

What’s important to remember is, if you love dancing as much as we do and know you want to find ways to dance professionally, whatever path you choose will be the right one for you! Find what feels right for you and get dancing!

Auditions for the CLI Conservatory are now OPEN! Submit an audition today.

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