What’s the job?
Who would I be working for?
Any theatre shows that have dance numbers in them. You could also work in TV, film or music.
What do they do?
The dance supervisor makes sure that all of the dancers in a scene are in the right places at the right time, and doing the right thing!
What sort of work is involved?
Every show will be different, but some of the things you would usually do include:
- Teaching the show’s choreography to all of the show’s dancers, to make sure that each person knows their role, timings and positions.
- Working with the stage manager and others to make sure that the dancers know where to go when they come on and off stage and when scenery is being changed.
- Holding dance auditions and helping to pick new cast members.
What skills do I need?
- An obvious one first – dancing ability!
- Attention to detail. You’ll need to spot small mistakes in one person’s routine, otherwise it could throw off the timing of the whole group and make the performance look below its best.
- Organisation skills are very important.
- Enthusiasm, so that you can inspire everyone involved in each routine.
- Excellent vocal communication skills, so that you can get your instructions across clearly.
- Persistence and patience, as you will need to rehearse, teach and perform the same routine lots of times.
- Confidence speaking and performing in front of people.
- Adaptability, so that you can deal with different styles of dance and any changes to the show. You also never know whose shoes you might have to fill in an emergency!
What qualifications do I need?
When you’re starting out, experience and dancing ability are the key things, but dance qualifications could be very useful later in your career if you want to get promoted or move into dance teaching etc.
What hours would I work?
Working in the theatre tends to involve lots of evening work, as most musicals have six evening performances a week, with rehearsals during the daytime.
Where would I work?
Lots of dance jobs are in London’s West End, where most of the big musicals are based. But there are jobs with regional dance companies and touring shows available. If you fancy life on the ocean, there are also jobs on cruise ships, too!
How much would I get paid?
The rates of pay for dancers vary quite a lot, so it’s hard to put a figure on it, especially since it depends how many days you’re working and how long the contract is for. But if you rise up to the level of dance supervisor like Hannah in the above film, you could be getting paid somewhere in the region of £50,000.
Can I do work experience?
Lots of dance companies and performing arts groups take people on for work experience, so get in touch with any local places and find out what they offer. The best way to get experience of dancing is, well, to dance! So why not see if you can take part in any productions that your school or youth organisations are putting on? Or, if you’re feeling really creative, you can put on your own performance, whether it’s in a school assembly or just for your friends or family!
How might the job change in the future?
New software and gadgets might slightly change how you teach or rehearse a routine, but the basic skills of teaching human beings and dealing with individuals probably won’t change very much.