Choreographers create original dances and develop new interpretations of existing dances. Because few dance routines are written down, choreographers instruct performers at rehearsals to achieve the desired effect. In addition, choreographers usually are involved in auditioning performers.
Hours: Daily rehearsals require very long hours. Many dance companies tour for part of the year to supplement a limited performance schedule at home. Dancers who perform in musical productions and other family entertainment spend much of their time on the road; others work in nightclubs or on cruise ships. Most dance performances are in the evening, whereas rehearsals and practice take place during the day. As a result, dancers often work very long and late hours. Generally, dancers and choreographers work in modern and temperature-controlled facilities; however, some studios may be older and less comfortable.
Opportunities: Dancers and choreographers worked in a variety of industries, such as private educational services, which includes dance studios and schools, as well as colleges and universities; food services and drinking establishments; performing arts companies, which include dance, theater, and opera companies; and amusement and recreation venues, such as casinos and theme parks. About 17 percent of dancers and choreographers were self-employed.
Most major cities serve as home to major dance companies; however, many smaller communities across the Nation also support home-grown, full-time professional dance companies.
Pay: Median hourly earnings of dancers were $9.55 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.31 and $17.50. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.62, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $25.75. Annual earnings data for dancers were not available, because of the wide variation in the number of hours worked by dancers and the short-term nature of many jobs—which may last for 1 day or 1 week—make it rare for dancers to have guaranteed employment that exceeds a few months. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of dancers were as follows:
Theater companies and dinner theaters$15.28Other schools and instruction11.71Other amusement and recreation industries8.58Drinking places (alcoholic beverages)7.76Full-service restaurants7.13
Training: Most dancers need long-term on-the-job training to be successful. Some earn a bachelor's degree or attend dance school, although neither is required. Becoming a choreographer usually requires years of dancing experience.
Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Dancers and Choreographers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos094.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).
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