The term dancer covers a range of different styles of dancing, including: classical ballet, modern, ethnic, folk, jazz, contemporary, belly-dancing, country and western, dramatic dance, Spanish, tap, aerobic, mime, nightclub and ballroom. For as long as can be remembered, dancers have conveyed a concept or message to an audience and have expressed stories, rhythm, ideas and sound with their bodies. Those who dream of a dancing career rarely think about the reality of the self-discipline required and the rigorous and arduous lessons and rehearsals that require many hours including weekends and holidays.

Professional dancers are subjected to prolonged, irregular and taxing working schedules that require physical and mental stamina. They participate in regular training sessions, rehearsals and performances. Dancing is a strenuous career and its demand for physical perfection requires constant attention to diet, fitness and health.

The choreographer creates new dance works and should have a comprehensive knowledge of all the relevant aspects of dance in order to translate his ideas into dance compositions.

The choreologist notates new dance works and reads written notation scores: in this way he assists the dance master who is responsible for the teaching and rehearsing of dance repertoire.

Dance teachers are involved with the instruction and scientific training of children and students in basic dance techniques and for dance examinations.

The dance historian teaches and researches the history of dance and provides an academic and philosophic perspective on the cultural development of this art.

Personal Requirements

  • dedicated to dance
  • perseverance
  • physical stamina and good feet
  • flexible, agile and graceful
  • sense of rhythm
  • feeling for music and creative ability
  • able to work as part of a dance team

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Drama, Dance Studies, Music

To study a degree BA Complete a matric (National Senior Certificate) meeting the requirements for a degree or diploma course. Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree / Diploma: Training at tertiary level has become imperative for all the above-mentioned careers. UCT, US and TUT all offer a certificate course as well as diploma and degree courses for specialised studies.

Prospective students are interviewed, auditioned and evaluated in terms of RAD (Royal Academy of Dancing), Cecchetti Society or other equivalent examination qualifications, as well as on their general dance talent and ability. The above institutions both offer comprehensive curricula in this field and, with the exception of a few course adaptations, subjects include Practical Dance (Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Spanish, African, National and Tap Dance), Music, Anatomy, History of Dance, Teaching Methods, Choreography, History of Costume, Drama, Choreology and Arts Administration.

TUT, in addition, offers the three-year N.Dip. Musical Theatre with a similar career-orientated curriculum, training singing and acting dancers.

The Johannesburg Dance Foundation offers the JDF Diploma Course for Professional Dance Performance which provides 3-year full-time training for a career as a professional dancer. The course is open to school-leavers between the ages of 17 and 22 years, who are chosen through auditions, where the main factors of consideration are physical suitability and motivation. Previous dance training is not a pre-requisite, neither is a matric exemption.


  • performing arts councils
  • television and theatres
  • general entertainment industries
  • dance schools, as a teacher
  • work on a freelance basis
  • self-employment, with own dance studio
There is a higher demand for talented male dancers as the number of female dancers generally exceeds the number of jobs available.

Further Information

68/1114 Wargrave Road, 
Henley-on-Klip, 1961
Tel: 082 554 9972

Royal College of Art (RAD)
51 Silwood Road 
Johannesburg, 2090
Tel:(011) 887-0459

Getting Started

  • take dancing lessons and pass as many dancing examinations as possible
  • attend and watch dance rehearsals and dance performances whenever possible
  • make an appointment to speak to a dancer about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer