So you’re interested in dance, but you’re not interested in becoming a professional dancer. You want to be involved in the art, but not spending your weekends on stage. But what else is there for someone educated in dance? Plenty!
A choreographer is as important to the dance world as the dancers. Choreographers design dances, modify existing choreography, and work with dancers to teach them the choreography. No further education is required to work as a choreographer, though choreography and movement workshops will help you a lot along the way. To begin now, challenge yourself. Choreograph in your spare time and watch a variety of dance styles to expand your movement library.
Teachers are the very foundation of the dance world. Whether you’re leading a creative movement class for 5-year-olds or teaching a variations class, teachers not only help prepare dancers for their future, but also pass along the joys of dance. Most dance teachers require only dance experience, though some may also need a teaching certificate or dance degree. If you’re interested in teaching dance, begin to pay attention to how your dance classes are structured. Write out rough class plans for a month or so.
The counselor route is one that seems to fall outside of the art world, but can be very important. With experience in the world of dance, you could be a valuable resource to children, teens, and even adults working in the field. With dance experience, you can understand the unique pressures they face and can talk to them in their own language. Working as a counselor will require plenty of additional schooling, possibly needing a degree in Counseling or Psychology, among other requirements.
A dance therapist is a person who uses movement and dance as a form of psychotherapy. Dance therapists frequently work with people with mental illnesses or those who are dealing with anxiety. A Master’s degree is required to become a dance therapist. If you are interested in becoming a dance therapist, begin by taking psychology classes and doing some research into the dance therapy field.
Sure, you can easily become a trainer without ever having set foot in a dance studio. But with a background in dance, you can better understand the dancers you work with. Trainers with a dance education may be able to work directly with a dance company to help with cross-training and other fitness goals the dancers may have. Pilates, yoga, and physical therapy experience would make you an even better fit to work with dancers. Trainers must be certified through one (or more) of a number of accreditation exams.
A ballet master or mistress is the person at a ballet company who is responsible for the technique of the company, as well as for overseeing much of the company. They frequently help hire dancers, choose shows for the season, and deal with internal operations. They are in charge of teaching classes to the company members and creating schedules. Ballet masters and mistresses almost always dance professionally before becoming a master/mistress, and they act as a manager, teacher, counselor, and coach.
Dance notators work with dance companies to record choreography in a very unique way. Using one of a few popular methods, dance notators can write down choreography in symbols and shapes rather than be describing it with words. Dance notators help companies record their choreography and help them read old works that have already been notated. No formal education is needed to be a dance notator, but you will obviously have to be fluent in at least one notation style and will need a quick eye for detail. Try to practice notation on your own by studying a style and notating dance videos online.
If the arts are your thing, but you’d rather see your creation than yourself on stage, being a costume designer may be perfect for you. Costume designers are responsible for coming up with costume ideas for the dancers, as well as for working to make the costumes. They help to create the “character” the dancer is portraying, and may range from simply taking in an existing costume to sketching costume ideas to show the creative director. A degree in costume design is frequently needed to work with large companies.
A public relations or media specialist works “outside” of the artistic side of dance, but is responsible for helping keep dance companies alive. These specialists work with newspapers and media outlets to promote the company’s season and any events they may have. They may write news briefs or work with designers to create promotional material. A degree in public relations is required to work in this track, but it can be very rewarding to know that you’re helping to bring newcomers into the world of dance.
Dance critics are the people that many love to hate. Dance critics are typically employed by newspapers and are sent to watch dance performances and write about them. They may be writing a simple blurb or a full-length article about a work, but they always try to describe what viewers are in for. Critics must have a strong understanding of dance, both from an artistic and a technical side, though no formal education is required. Taking journalism classes would be highly beneficial, and the Dance Critics Association has a lot of good information about the career.
Dance photographers and videographers, like Gene Schiavone, work with companies to record performances, rehearsals, and classes, both for advertising and for simple posterity. Becoming a photographer or videographer in the world of dance is a one-in-a-million chance, though. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that most dance companies won’t allow a beginner to photograph or film their works, so it can be hard to gain experience. The best way to begin is to work on your own. Take headshots and audition photos for local dance students. Film dance recitals or video auditions. Learn everything you can about low-light photography. When you have a well-shot, clean portfolio, try approaching a local company about working with them, and be prepared for some rejection.