What Is A Normal Day For A Professional Dancer?
"I know being a dancer is a lot of hard work, and I know how good it feels to be on stage in my dance school's productions. But I wonder what it's really like to be a professional dancer. How do they do it? What is an average day for a professional dancer?"
asked by Jeannie from Atlanta, Georgia
Yes, being a professional dancer is a lot of hard work. It requires intense dedication, focus, and perseverance to make it as a professional dancer. Some forms of dance are extremely hard on the body, and one must be in very good shape to be able to execute the complex routines and acrobatic moves that choreographers expect. It is also immensely rewarding to share one’s passion and express the soul through the movements of the body.
Nearly all professional dancers train 5 or 6 days a week. Just as you probably take 10 or more classes a week now to build your technique and form, professional dancers also must work on their skills continuously. A dancer in a professional company will usually start the day early with a class to warm-up and refine technique. That would be followed by 4 to 6 hours of rehearsal, a couple hours break, then either a performance or evening class.
Dancing requires a great deal of strength and endurance, so dancers must take care of their bodies just like other athletes. Nourishing meals that supply plenty of nutrition and energy, adequate rest, and relaxing recreational activities are all necessary to maintain the body’s health. Many dancers also receive physical therapy or massage often to recover from the intense work.
Of course, only a percentage of dancers are in a show or company at any given time. Especially at the beginning of one’s career, often a dancer’s job is to audition. Auditions can sometimes be grueling and quite competitive, and require the dancers to be at the top of their game just to get hired for a role or company. Many dancers need to have a side job to take care of themselves financially, while also training and taking classes to stay in good form and refine technique. Dance, like the other performing arts, is a field where there are no guarantees that one will be hired. But you are more likely to succeed if you are in excellent shape and have near-perfect form and superb technique.
There is also a lot of competition in the dance world. While it is possible to forge true friendships and alliances with other dancers, sometimes the pressure to succeed causes dancers to be quite unkind to each other. A strong sense of self-worth and confidence is required to withstand potentially harsh peer pressure.
Dancers persevere because they love what they do. They work hard because they know that is what is required for success. Most professional dancers are completely committed to their work, to the point that it consumes their whole lives for the 15 or so years that their careers last. They eat, sleep, dream, walk, and talk dance. But usually, because they love it so much, it does not have the sense of feeling like a “job” the way other careers can.
It can be a dynamic career, with the ability to constantly evolve and refine as a dancer, and to branch out into different techniques and styles of dance. It can be a deeply fulfilling career, full of challenge yet full of joy.