Skip to Main Content

Dance Research Guide: Education and career guides

a guide to outstanding dance resources for research and enrichment

General career guides

Occupational Outlook Handbook

This guide has been prepared by the U.S. government Bureau of Labor Statistics since the 1950s.  The most recent edition is online through the "Latest edition" link in the catalog record.  A quick survey in the OOH is available under Entertainment and Sports: Dancers and Choreographers. If you search for dance OR dancer OR choreograph* - associated professions will also come up. For those interested, older (archived) issues of the Handbook are also available (direct link).

Career Outlook (formerly Occupational Outlook Quarterly)

Career Outlook provides practical information on jobs and careers. Articles are written in straightforward, non-technical language and cover a wide variety of career and work-related topics such as new and emerging occupations, training opportunities, salary trends, and results of new studies from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Occupational Outlook Quarterly is also available via various databases.

Dance organization career aids

Society of Health and Physical Educators : Career page

Not long ago the National Dance Association was folded into AAHPERD, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, which itself has now morphed into SHAPE.  NDA historically offered career ideas, news about auditions and available internships and more.  SHAPE's site now offers resources of limited use to dancers.  The Career page offers some professional development tools. 

Dance Studies Association Job Opportunities page

DSA, a merger of dance scholarly organizations, presents a list of career opportunities of interest to scholars and educators.

North Texas Dance Council:  Classified:  Auditions and Jobs

The Dance Data Project, a nonprofit organization compiling a great variety of data on the world of dance, is dedicated primarily to establishing gender equity in the "dance industry," especially ballet, primarily by generating in-depth statistical reports on various conditions across dance companies and other sites of dancer employment. DDP offers a newsletter that allows interested parties to keep up with the latest. Among its many unique resources are information for student dancers to guard against abusive situations (also helpful for young professionals), materials on negotiating salary, and more. 

Dance education and career guides



A Life in Dance: a Practical Guide - CreateSpace 2017.  Written by dancer, choreographer, and professor Rebecca Stenn and dancer, producer, and consultant Fran Kirmser, the first half of the book delivers informative and personal narratives from approximately 40 dancers from all generations and genres including Concert Dance, Broadway, Film, and Television. The second half of the book offers a resource guide for

dancers including outlets that can help answer questions and provide direction for student loan debt, health insurance, legal advice, funding resources, financial planning, studio space, rental needs, and much more. Chapters include: Auditioning and Landing a Job/ Dancing in a Company; Working Project to Project; Starting a Company; building a Company Long Term: a New Model; Financial Literacy and Empowerment; On Collaborating with Composers; Pop Culture - Television Shows; Diversity in Dance; Teaching in the Schools - K through 12th grade; Mindful Dancing - Feldenkrais and Somatic Practices; Ballet and Life After Ballet. Amazon offers a preview of this book.  A DIGITAL COPY CAN BE PURCHASED FOR $10 from, via (Unfortunately the book cannot be published as an ebook.)
  Being a Dancer: Advice from Dancers and Choreographers (ebook) – Lyndsey Winship, 2015. Questions asked by young or aspiring dancers are answered by some of the best dancers and choreographers in the world, crossing the fields of ballet, contemporary, South Asian dance, musical theatre and hip hop.

Pt 1: Training – Why Dance? – Starting Out – What School? What Style? – Getting Better: Improving Technique – Dealing with Bullies – Are You Hungry Enough? – Pt 2: Body – How Important is the Perfect Body? – Body Conditioning: Class Isn’t Enough –  

Good Pain: The Inevitable Gripes – Word on Pointe Shoes – Bad Pain: When Injury Strikes – You Are What You Eat – Pt 3: Getting a Job – Having the Right Attitude – Being a Dancer – Being Employable – Networking and Getting Noticed – Nailing Auditions – Competitions: a Good Idea? – Pt 4: In the Studio – What Choreographers Want – Getting into Character – Tips on Partnering – Pt 5: On Stage – Pre-show Rituals – Dealing with Nerves – Taking the Spotlight – Beyond the Theatre – Making Mistakes – What Makes a Great Dancer? – Pt 6: Choreography – Becoming a Choreographer – Honing Your Craft – Getting Yourself Out There – Practicalities: The Business of Choreography – Pt 7: Life in Dance – Moving Up the Ranks – Rivalries and Relationships – Keeping the Faith – Making Ends Meet – Dealing with Criticism – Asking for Feedback – Reviews: Do You Read Them? – Life After Dance – One Piece of Advice.




Making Your Life as an Artist (ebook) - Andrew Simonet (Artists U), 2014.  Part affirmation, part vocational guide, Andrew Simonet's online book offers good advice to a broad spectrum of artists.




Starting Your Career as a Dancer - Allworth Press, 2012 (ebook).  Author Mande Dagenais explains what it really takes to get into the business, be in the business, and survive in the business. Based on more than twenty-five years of experience in the performing arts as a dancer, teacher, choreographer/director, and producer, Dagenais offers insider advice and shares her vast knowledge while answering questions asked by professionals and beginners alike. Aspiring dancers

will learn about different markets, venues, and types of work for dancers, and what to expect from a dancing job, while experienced dancers will appreciate helpful tips on where and how to find work, business management, and career transition.  Chapters include Born to dance--turning dreams into goals into commitments -- Inspiration--trusting personal heroes and mentors -- Triple threat--training + versatility = options -- Dancing for a degree--to college or not to college? -- Leave your attitude where it belongs-- at the door! -- Markets and venues-- where and how to find a gig -- The audition-- what it takes to get the gig -- It’s showtime, folks!-- Let the fun begin -- Fit to dance-- You are what you eat -- Let’s get physical-- Injury recognition and prevention -- In perfect balance-- mind over matter -- No more starving artist-- the business of being in "the biz" -- United we stand-- union or non-union? -- Money makes the world go ’round-- you are your business -- Life after the stage-- carreer transitions -- The grand finale-- summary -- Afterword -- Contact information -- About the author. Also available in print, GV1597 .D34 2012.

Career as a Dancer


Career as a Dancer (ebook) - Chicago:  Institute for Career Research, 2010.  EBSCO Host e-book available from a link in the catalog record.

Career as a dancer; What you can do now; History of the career; Where you will work; The work you will do; Professional dancers tell about their careers; Personal qualifications; Attractive features; Unattractive features; Education and training; Earnings; Opportunities; Getting started; Associations; Periodicals; Websites


The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love (ebook) - Da Capo Press, 2009.

This ebook guide includes chapters on assessing and planning your career, assembling and marketing your body of work, building professional relationships, grants and residencies, dealing with contracts and negotiating, managing money, and now to survive in a new environment on your own.

The Dancer's Survival Manual  

The Dancer's Survival Manual:  Everything You Need to Know from the First Class to Career Change - University Press of Florida, 2009.  Find this book in the  Reference stacks by call number GV 1597 H68 2009.

In choosing a school and a teacher, auditioning, competing, and signing a contract, a young dancer has to play many roles and make many difficult, life-altering choices.  The older dancer faces a different set of concerns: dealing with the management and the press, navigating

backstage politics, working through injuries, staying healthy, and eventually coping with the prospect of moving to a new profession.  In The Dancer's Survival Manual, former New York City Ballet dancers Marian Horosko and Judith Kupersmith, M.D., cover all the major decisions and challenges a dancer may face over the course of his or her career, and emphasize the importance of caring for both the mind and body at every stage.

Career Readiness and Preparation Criteria in Undergraduate Dance Degree Programs (ebook) - Hamilton Books, 2009. Also available in print, GV1589 .K57 2009b

This excellent volume by Kathleen Klein discusses many of the fundamentals of dance as a study, as well as the history of dance as an art and as an educational pursuit.  Klein's primary purpose is to develop a rubric assisting colleges, universities and communities in achieving

better educational and career outcomes for career-seeking dancers, as well as to strengthen the position of dance education in academic communities.
Career Opportunities in Theater and the Performing Arts    

Career Opportunities in Theater and the Performing Arts - Checkmark Books, 2006.  Find this book on the first floor by call number PN 1580 F5 2006.

Performing artists -- Writing and composing for the performing arts -- Production, directing, and design -- Theatrical administration and business -- Orchestra, opera, and ballet company administration -- Behind the scenes -- Support services for performing artists --

Halls, arenas, and other venues -- Performing arts education -- Performing arts journalism -- Miscellaneous careers in theater and performing arts.

Dance: from the Campus to the Real World and Back Again - a Resource Guide for Artists, Faculty and Students - Dance USA, 2005.  Available on the  first floor via call number GV 1589 D364 2005  

Universities 101: a guide to long-term artist contracts in the college and university environment / Tricia Henry Young -- Dance residencies 101: a guide to planning for the world of possibilities / Jacqueline Davis -- Choreography as research: making the case on campus

/ Linda Tomko -- The real world of adjunct teaching / Julia Ward -- What I did this winter: Bennington students experience the real world through field work term / Terry Creach -- Poetic science: teaching composition to college students / Tere O'Connor -- Historical dance residencies as cultural protein / Bonnie Oda Homsey -- Keeping it green: some lessons on building community and igniting creativity / David Dorfman -- Finding physicality, finding context: a life-long study of composition / Bebe Miller -- The secrets of our success: good relationships are the key to an ambitious residency / Bonnie Brooks -- Promethean fire: talking to students about talking to artists / Ivan Sygoda -- Parallel lives: three professors maintain their edge as artistic directors / Charmaine Patricia Warren -- Good paid work: from the studio to the stage / Amii LeGendre -- Gateway to the city: NYC field experience has a profound impact on students / Sally Sommer -- Real world 101 / Steve Gross and Diane Vivona -- Getting close to real / Jane Jerardi -- Success in 10 minutes or less: reflections on life and work as a contemporary artist / Wally Cardona -- Oasis / Ann Carlson.  

The Dancer's Resource:  the Watson-Guptill Guide to academic programs, internships and apprentice programs, residential and artist-in-residence programs, studio schools and private teachers, workshops and festivals, 1999 - this guide is in the Library remote stacks (Annex) - request by clicking on "More Information / Retrieval Requests" in the catalog record.

Living to Dance, Dancing to Live -- On Becoming a Dancer -- A Career in Dance -- Modern Dance -- Ballet -- Musical Theater/Jazz and Tap -- Ethnic Dance -- Other Traditions --

Choreography -- The Decision to Become a Professional -- The Decision to Remain an Amateur -- Getting Your Act Together -- Dance Programs in the U.S. Today -- Signing Up: Organizations for Dancers -- Membership Organizations -- Unions and Other Labor Organizations -- Selecting a Program -- Special Advice on Summer Programs -- Special Advice on Dance Schools -- Special Advice on Academic Programs -- Dance Programs -- State by State: Academic Programs, Interships and Apprentice Programs, Residential and Artist-in-Residence Programs, Studio Schools and Private Teachers, Workshops and Festivals -- The Business of Dance -- Finances -- Financial Aid -- The Inside Scoop -- Getting Your Career Started -- Special Advice for Choreographers -- The Price Tag on Your Work -- Running Your Business as a Freelance Artist -- Taxes -- Investing for Your Future -- About Getting Your Act Together.
(No cover available)    

Your Dance Resume:  a Preparatory Guide to the Audition - from Dance Press, 1995.   Find this guide in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1595 W65 1995.



Resumes for Performing Careers - McGraw-Hill, 2004. Nearly 100 sample resumes and 20 sample cover letters for each field, illustrating the most up-to-date techniques.  Tips on highlighting strengths and using active vocabulary.  Worksheets for gathering personal information, advice on how to conduct your job search and more.

Poor Dancer's Almanac  

Poor Dancer's Almanac:  Managing a Life and Work in the Performing Arts - Duke University Press, 1993.  Find this book in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1597 P66 1993.

Project of the Dance Theatre Workshop, New York City. More than 50 professionals present detailed information on topics ranging from how to locate performing space to writing a press release to filing tax forms. Interspersed with the nitty-gritty of production, management, personnel,

finances and healthcare are personal glimpses of the life of an artist as written by established performers. Each chapter is followed by an appendix listing additional resources.

Job & Career Accelerator

The Job & Career Accelerator database is a multifaceted tool that allows you to assess possible career choices, locate job and internship opportunities, craft resumes and much more!  Use requires one-time registration to accommodate saving searches, resume materials and so on.  J & CA is part of a larger spectrum of career and education-oriented databases called Learning Express Library.

Experiential guides

Books and films by, about, and interviews with professional dancers can serve as invaluable guides to the profession.  To search the catalog, select "Subject heading" from the Index drop-down box and type in Dancers.  Also try subject heading Dancers - Biography.  In a keyword search, try dancers AND interviews and dancers AND biography. (The same thing works with "Ballet dancers.") Example result:

The Wise Body: Conversations with Experienced Dancers (ebook) / edited by Jacky Lansley and Fergus Early. UK choreographers Jacky Lansley and Fergus Early interview twelve distinguished dancers from diverse backgrounds and disciplines who continue to enjoy exceptionally long performing careers.  They discuss early training, memorable performing experiences, the things that sustain them, and the pleasures and challenges of being 'older' dancers in a profession in which youth is often idolized.

A variety of film interviews with dancers are available in the Dance in Video database.  See, for example, the video series "Speaking of Dance."