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Dance as a Career option

by Niharika Kulkarni

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dance as career

“The dance is the mother of the arts. Music and poetry exist in time; painting and architecture in space. But the dance lives at once in time and space.” - Curt Sachs

Celebrations in India are not completed without shaking a leg, be it wedding ceremony, any festival or a special event. Dance has always been a part of Indian culture. One needs to have an inborn talent to become a professional dancer, classes and guidance can only boost up this talent. A person can start to get trained in dance from a very early age of  four to five years and dance is an art which can never be fully learned and it is an evolving form of art/. Dance career is very respectable and with it dancers can go international too. Dance is a medium to express one’s feelings and emotion through action and the dancer conveys their message to the audience by using various dance forms. A dancer expresses through the body movements and facial expressions. A good dancer must be flexible, gracious, agile and rhythmic.

Dance now is no longer a medium of entertainment or a source to satisfy our creative minds but it has now been reborn as a good source of livelihood and even a status. As a career option it has now been opened up in recent times, in addition to it there are government and non -government funding for the artists, various scholarships and grants are given for study, advanced training and travel. Professional dancing requires formal education and there are many colleges that offer undergraduate and graduate courses in various forms of dance. Candidate who holds a degree must not think that he is a professional. Dancing is very complicated, tiring and it requires hours of practicing.

There are various career options one can take in dancing as a profession. One can choose any one of it depending on the interest and capability. These are some dancing career paths:


To become a dance performer one must have good facial expressions, stage presence and attractive appearance. Performing artists much have their own group or they must work with some group. They must have spent a lot of time on practicing dancing. It is an advantage to have contacts in the dancing industry and there is always a need to keep in touch with the public to know the interest of the audience from time to time. To become popular they travel a lot and may also get international assignments if they become popular. You may take up an example of Hema Malini, she is an actress but a performer too. She does stage shows and various activities as a performer artist.


To get in this field one must have teaching skills, a lot of patience and management skills to coordinate the class. They must have knowledge about the dance they teach, both practical and theoretical knowledge of the dance. So that they can teach the students all aspects of the dance form. Dancers who want to take up teaching as a profession may find jobs in schools, colleges, dance institutes or even they may open the their own dance school.


This is a very demanding job in the entertainment industry. There is a need for good choreographers who have creative ideas to choreograph for stage shows, television, live shows, celebrations or movies. And they also get good payment for their work. Choreographing includes composing dance, teaching the dancers and forming a pattern of different steps. Experience and good music sense can eventually make you a good chorographer too. There are some famous Choreographers like Shiamak Davar, Terence Lewis, Sandeep Soparkar etc.


If you are a dancer and you have good acting skills as well you can choose to be in the film industry. Dancing and acting are the keys to become a successful actor in Bollywood. The best example is of Hrithik Roshan. There are also academic guilds to help you train and then join the film industry. Film industry also gives a platform for back dancers in any movie. Their determination can also give them a chance to be an actor. Eg: Shahid Kapoor was a back stage dancer before becoming a prominent actor. He performed as a back stage dancer in Taal movie in the year 1999.


Dance therapy is a very soulful career, helping those with emotional and behavioral problems by teaching them to express themselves through body movements and expressions. The therapy is called the Dance Movement Therapy. Therapists perform controlled sessions with people and groups where physical movements are used to observe their behavior and emotions. They might check the client’s expression on anger, love etc to know their problems. Increasing or decreasing the tempo of the music to release their intense or calm expressions. It is all about integrating the mental and physical sides of life

However the information network about this field is not that efficient like other fields. Most of the people do not know about the numerous opportunities that dance can offer. People still think dance as a hobby and not career.

Scholarships/ Grants for a career in dance

1. Scheme for Scholarships to Young Artists in Different Cultural Fields

The Minstry of Culture,Government of India offers a scholarship of Rs.5000 every month for two years for advanced training to the selected scholar who fit their eligibility criteria

The scheme is valid for Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Odissi Dance/ Music, Manipuri Dance/ Music, Thangta, Gaudiya Nritya, Chhau Dance/ Music, Sattriya dance. The duration of the scholarship will be for two years.

2. Sahitya Kala Parishad

It is the Cultural Wing of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.It offers a scholarship of Rs. 3000 per month for two years for advanced training.

3.  Sahitaya Natak Academy also provides grants to individual and institutes.

Dance is very strenuous and many performers stop dancing in their late thirties due to physical problems. Some continue to work as dance teachers, choreographers and others hold on to the administrative procedures. Dancers have intense competition for jobs. Dancers do not get a huge amount of salary but they are satisfied performing and utilizing their art.

This always happens with dance artists:

People: Beta, what you do?
Artist: I teach (choreograph) dance/ I am a dancer
People: Oh nice! And what you do for your living?

It is truly said “When you do what you love, you will love what you do. ”A career in dance is taken seriously now. The thought that a career in dancing will not go a long way has changed. Be it as a dancer or choreographer, depending upon the individual, a career in dance is now looked up with respect.

Many children love to dance. Some also say that they want to grow up and become a dancer. Many youth only dream about it only some make it happen.

 Things to do to make your dream turn into reality:

  1. Gain all the knowledge about your dance form
  2. Enroll yourself in dance classes or institutes to learn the form of dance you wish to learn.
  3. Get a degree in dance.
  4. Try setting different steps into a beautiful pattern and learn choreographing.
  5. Build public relations and strengthen your network

There are a lot of opportunities in taking dance as a career but it doesn’t mean that it is easy to become a dancer. It requires a lot of hard work and focus to make your dream come true. You require the strength to cross the hurdles that come your way without any regrets.

“There is shortcut to popularity but not to excellence”



 Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net(Cover pic of the article) 

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