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Job Roles in Performing Arts

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There are many jobs in the performing arts ranging from acting and dancing to producing plays, teaching and handling finances. Jobs in the performing arts can have good pay and depends on what you do. Jobs within the performing arts industry are split up into 3 categories: performers, production and administrative. Job roles within the performance sector consist of dancers, singers, actors, musicians, acrobats, magicians, comedians and many more. Roles in the production sector are choreographers, script writers and technicians. The job roles in the administrative team are producers, directors, front of house, agents, finance and there are many others. Depending on the size of the company, they will have smaller or bigger casts and the amount of job roles there are will vary, for example a large-scale company would have one or two people for each role, where as a small-scale company may have someone doing two roles rather than many people doing one. The three jobs that I have chosen to focus on is a dancer for the performance role, a choreographer for the production role and theatre director for the administrative job role. For each job role there is an explanation of how to become either a dancer, choreographer or theatre director, the day-to-day jobs/tasks that each role entails, the salary of each role and the positives and negatives of pursuing a career in these roles. When covering the salary of each role, I mention Equity. Equity is the UK trade union that represents people working in the performing arts and entertainment industry. Equity campaigns on behalf of people working for the performing arts and entertainment industry and brings issues to the UK parliament and government. Equity also protects your rights when you are looking for work, applying for work, and working in the industry. In the private sector of the industry, if you are being treated unfairly, or the pay is unreasonable, Equity is the place you need to get in contact with and they are the ones that can help.

Professional Dancer

How to Become a Professional Dancer

To become a professional, a dancer must be able to entertain through their performances. As a dancer, having the ability to self-promote, determination and talent is crucial. Dancers use movement and gesture to sometimes tell stories and show different emotions and characters through dance. Typically, this involves performing work that has been choreographed by a choreographer, it may also include the dancer’s own movement through improvisation. Many dancers, in their career, will often dance then maybe go on to do teaching, being a choreographer or administrative work in a company in the performing arts.

How a Dancer Can Get There

To become a professional, most dancers go to a vocational dance school with either a one-year postgraduate course or a three-year diploma in professional dance. To get onto these courses they may need to have five GCSEs A-C and at least two A-levels. Postgraduate or vocational study isn’t most important, but once they have a few years’ experience in the dance industry, it can help further their career. Training to be a dancer typically begins at a young age, especially for ballet, but for other styles of dance, training can begin in the teenage years or even in university. To be a professional dancer, it is important to have a strength in at least one style of dance for example this could be in, African or Asian dance, ballet, street dance, modern or contemporary.

Day-to-Day Jobs/Tasks for a Professional Dancer and What to Expect

As a professional, dancers will need to attend auditions and casting sessions, so that they have work and so that they can earn money. Dancers will have to keep fit and healthy so that they have higher chances of being employed and so that they can reduce risk of injury while dancing. As well as looking after themselves they may have to take care of the health and safety of others, as well as using the rehearsal space and equipment/ set safely. They may also be asked to study, learn, create, or interpret choreography in pieces of work. Professional dancers may need to learn to do other skills such as acting and singing, to be able to perform in different roles. Depending on what the dancer is interested in doing, they may do some other things, for example, run workshops in their local community. They may also work towards enabling and encouraging people mainly children, to become involved in dance. Many jobs are London based but you can be part of a regional company or a touring company which means that there are more opportunities. As a professional dancer you can expect your career to be short because typically a dancer’s career doesn’t last beyond the age of 40. You should also expect to be needed to travel to different venues, these venues can be in the United Kingdom or international.

The Salary of a Professional Dancer

The salary of a dancer depends on what they are doing, for example if they are dancing for music videos or in the theatre. The trade union for performing arts, Equity, has agreed with the Independent Theatre Council (ITC) about minimum weekly pay rates. If you are working in the theatre you can expect to earn £360 to £487.50 a week depending on where you work. For performances on stage, for example in the west end, you can expect to earn £568.60 to £694.67 also depending on where and how many people the venue can hold. If you want to be a dancer in films you can expect to earn around £828 per week, rising to £2,097.60, depending on the budget for the film. The cost of necessities and accommodation are included in Equity contracts. The payment and working conditions for non-Equity work can be lower and some employers may try and contract dancers for no payment.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Professional Dancer

One of the main advantages of becoming a professional dancer is that their job is something that they enjoy and love to do and they get to share their passion with others. Another advantage of being a professional dancer is that they can make a difference in people’s lives, as a dancer they may not realize it, but they are an inspiration for a lot of people, especially children. Another advantage of becoming a professional dancer is that they get a lot of different and creative opportunities that they would not otherwise get if they didn’t work in this profession. Another advantage is that as being a dancer typically isn’t a very long career with the experience that you have gained you can move up to other job roles in the performing arts industry, for example a choreographer, producer or director.

One disadvantage of becoming a professional dancer is the mental and physical toll that it can take on the dancer’s mind and body. Another disadvantage of becoming a professional dancer is that work is hard to find and to begin with, the pay isn’t very good, although the pay can increase with experience and where you work. Another disadvantage is that rehearsals, performances, and filming, depending on what you are doing can take up a lot of time, so that you will not have a lot of spare time and normally the hours that you will be working are unsociable hours.

Professional Choreographer

A choreographer is someone who designs and directs routines, they work with individual dancers or groups. As they teach dance moves and routines, they also provide encouragement and guidance to the dancers. Even though dances and performances may only be a few minutes long they can take weeks or even months and a lot of hard work to choreograph and perfect. Choreographers aren’t just for dancers, they can choreograph routines for a wide variety of other professions, including gymnastics, cheerleading, synchronized swimming, diving and ice skating.

How to Become a Professional Choreographer

To become a professional choreographer, the first thing they need to do is gain dance experience. Most chorographers start of as dancers, though this they have been able to develop the skills they need to be a choreographer. Chorographers must have a wide knowledge of dance movements, dance terminology, and they must be creative, they would have gained these skills when dancing.

The next step to becoming a professional choreographer is that they need to gain an education, from gaining an education they would have a better insight of the role. Even though to be a choreographer you don’t always need a formal education, but if you do have a strong postsecondary education, then that will set you apart from other competing choreographers. Many collages/university’s offer master’s degrees and/or bachelor’s degrees in dance, these will give you an insight on the process of coaching dancers. Also, another benefit of having a degree is that you will have experience and knowledge in a wide range of dance styles which enables you to work with and train a variety of dancers.

The most common way people get from being dancers to professional choreographers is to become a dance teacher first. Even though choreography is mainly about creating routines, they need the ability to instruct dancers on movements for the routines to work. Basic dance teaching experience will give them the confidence and abilities to be able to choreograph a routine.

Day-to-Day Jobs/ Tasks of a Choreographer

When employed, professional choreographers have various jobs and tasks to do. Leading up to a show or performance, they will need to create new choreography based on what the directors want and teach it to the cast members. While choreographing they will need to watch the show for inspiration and will have to experiment with different styles of dance to see what style creates the right intention of the piece. Choreographers will also have to work with other people such as set, costume, makeup and lighting designers. Choreographers also need to work very closely with the dancers to make sure that they are aware of any problems or injuries so that they can make changes to the choreography if needed. Chorographers may also be asked to attend auditions to teach choreography.

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When unemployed, choreographers will make sure that they keep fit and healthy, they will also keep taking lessons in different styles of dance to make themselves as experienced as possible. To still earn money, they will either find other jobs to do why waiting/looking for work or they will find teaching opportunities it may be at a Saturday school or a dance school, this will give them more experience.

The Salary of a Professional Choreographer

The average salary for a choreographer in the United Kingdom is £30,000, with the entry level salary being around £16,000 and at experience level can reach up to £51,000. A professional choreographers salary depends on what work they are doing and who they are working for as different companies may pay differently. It may also depend on the amount of experience the choreographer has. The trade union for performing arts, Equity, has agreed with the Independent Theatre Council (ITC) about minimum weekly pay rates and for a choreographer the minimum weekly salary is £483. Equity also covers pay for commuting, accommodation if needed and meals.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming a Professional Choreographer

One advantage of becoming a professional choreographer is that they get to use their creativity and passion to create dance moves, steps and combinations for dancers. Choreographers get to maintain and develop their skill through teaching others. Another advantage of becoming a professional choreographer is that their physical fitness will improve as they must remain in good physical condition to show and teach routines and instruct dancers. Choreographers will also need to remain flexible and maintain strength in their legs and core to be able to demonstrate dance choreography. Another advantage is that after all their hard work, choreographers can sit back and watch as their vision comes to life on stage. Most choreographers were originally professional dancers so by becoming a professional choreographer, they can turn their background and passion into another career.

One disadvantage of becoming a choreographer is that they will be asked to work unsociable hours and they may be asked to work far from where they live so it can be quite a long day with the amount of hors that they work, and travel included. Sometimes they may even be asked to work abroad so they will be away from home for long periods of time. Another disadvantage is that they must be extremely dedicated to the job because if they don’t prepare choreography before they have a session with the dancers then that isn’t very professional or time effective. Another disadvantage is that the choreographer cannot miss a session as they are the only one who knows the dance and if they are absent then the dancers cannot learn the choreography.

Theatre Director

A theatre director oversees the creative vision of a theatre production. Their job is to tell the story of the play in such a way that it is compelling and compliments the performers. A theatre director also makes the decision on costume, set and design along with other people.

How to Become a Theatre Director

To become a theatre director the skills you need to show is; the ability to inspire and motivate others, self-motivation, creativity, the ability to work as part of a team, time and management skills, understanding of how a theatre works, the ability to creatively solve problems, dedication, organizational skills, knowledge of health and safety.

To become a theatre director, you should have some experience in the industry, mainly practical experience in acting, directing and/or stage management in amateur theatre. To gain experience you can try to get work as an assistant and try to see as many productions as you can and reading plays and novels can help to widen your knowledge.

To be a theatre director you don’t need a degree or HND and you may be able to move up to the role after gaining experience in other jobs for example as a designer, writer, actor or stage manager. Although a relevant degree or HND may be helpful, this could be in performing arts, English literature, languages, and humanities-based subjects. You don’t have to have a post graduate course if you have a certain amount of experience or a relevant degree.

Day-to-Day Jobs/ Tasks of a Theatre Director

As a theatre director, depending on the amount of staff you will have to take on different rolls and work with different people. Common things you will be asked to do could be: programming and budgeting for shows, translating and interpreting scripts, holding auditions, managing time and people and space, organizing rehearsals, working with play writers, attending preview performances, help to publicize the production and attending production meetings with set designers.

Salary of a Theatre Director

The salary of a theatre director depends on the length and type of contract for example, touring, freelance or repertory. The Independent Theatre Council and UK Theatre have agreed pay with entertainment unions on behalf of their members about what the minimum rates of pay should be. For an assistant director the weekly pay is around £480. A theatre director who is directing a full-length play should get a preparatory fee of £1,579 and weekly payments of £483 for rehearsals. Freelance directors in a commercial reparatory theatre can receive a minimum of around £2,734, with a weekly payment of around £500-£600. Your pay also depends on how experienced you are and how long you have been doing the job for. As part of Equity, commuting costs, relocation costs, accommodation costs (if needed), costs for meals and touring allowances are covered for a certain amount.

Pros and Cons on Being a Theatre Director

  • Positives: the positives to becoming theatre director are that it is a rewarding job, and when you complete a play you get a sense of achievement, the job is quite good pay depending on what company you work for and the scale of the company, and if the play is successful, you can get the opportunity to make a lot of money. Another positive to becoming a theatre director is that you have a lot of creative freedom so you have the opportunity to express your creativity and personality, also the job is in a very social environment and many of the people there will have very similar dreams and aspirations to you so you get the chance to meet very like-minded people.
  • Negatives: the negatives to becoming a theatre director are that unless you are very experienced and successful the job can have unpredictable employment that is not very helpful when you are trying to have a career, there is also a lot of responsibility placed on the director as generally they are in charge and responsible for everything so that can lead to a lot of stress. Another negative to becoming a theatre director is that it is a competitive industry so it is tough to get started, also the people you work with, e.g., the performers and managers may be hard people to work with. The job can also be very time consuming as it is typically a 9 am to 5 pm job and rehearsals can take up extra time so finding a balance between work and private life can be difficult.


Throughout my essay, I have outlined key elements of three jobs within the performing arts industry. We have seen for example how the jobs within this industry are interlinked and all have an important part within a production. A production would not be possible without performers, production and administrative team. Some examples of how the 3 jobs interlink is that when a dancer retires from dancing the can move on and become a choreographer with the experience would have gained and/or become a director or producer with further experience. In the industry all three of these job roles will have to work closely to get a production done, in particular the choreographer and director as they may work together. All job roles within the performing art and entertainment industry are supported by the same trade union, Equity.

I feel the main link between the outlined roles is that you have to have a love and an understanding of the industry to be able to carry the roles out to their full potential. I feel this is not an industry to get into if it’s a high paid job you are looking for, it is one that I feel enables you to do a job that you feel passionate about and earn a wage whilst you are doing it and work may not be continuous and other avenues may have to be looked into between jobs.

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Job Roles in Performing Arts. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Job Roles in Performing Arts.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
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Job Roles in Performing Arts [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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