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The term dancer covers a range of different styles of dancing, including: classical ballet, modern, ethnic, folk, jazz, contemporary, belly-dancing, country and western, dramatic dance, Spanish, tap, aerobic, mime, nightclub and ballroom.

For as long as can be remembered, dancers have conveyed a concept or message to an audience and have expressed stories, rhythm, ideas and sound with their bodies.

Those who dream of a dancing career rarely think about the reality of the self-discipline required and the rigorous and arduous lessons and rehearsals that require many hours including weekends and holidays. Professional dancers are subject to prolonged, irregular, and taxing working schedules that require physical and mental stamina. They participate in regular training sessions, rehearsals and performances. Dancing is a strenuous career and its demand for physical perfection requires constant attention to diet, fitness and health.

The rigorous and early training required, the short duration of a career and the strong competition for jobs make this a career for the very dedicated. Ballet training for girls usually begins between five and eight years of age and for boys between ten and fifteen. Training in modern dance, however, may begin later.

The physical demands of professional dancing force most dancers to stop performing in their late thirties, but many continue to work in the fields of choreography, teaching and artistic direction. There is great camaraderie among professional dancers in a cast, because they tend to share the same interests.

Satisfying Aspects
- a glamorous profession for those who make it
- hard work can pay off with full-house theatres and good reviews
- good camaraderie

Demanding aspects
- very hard work
- irregular hours and fierce diiscipline
- physically very demanding

A professional dancer should:
- be dedicated to dance;
- have perseverance;
- have physical stamina and good feet;
- be flexible, agile and graceful;
- have a sense of rhythm;
- have a feeling for music and creative ability;
- be able to work as part of a dance team.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Dance Studies, Music, Life Sciences

Degree / Diploma: Training at tertiary level has become imperative for all the above-mentioned careers. UCT, US and TUT both offer a certificate course as well as diploma and degree courses for specialized studies.

Prospective students are interviewed, auditioned and evaluated in terms of RAD (Royal Academy of Dancing), Cecchetti Society or other equivalent examination qualifications, as well as on their general dance talent and ability. The above institutions both offer comprehensive curricula in this field and, with the exception of a few course adaptations, subjects include Practical Dance (Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Spanish, African, National and Tap Dance), Music, Anatomy, History of Dance, Teaching Methods, Choreography, History of Costume, Drama, Choreology and Arts Administration.

TUT, in addition, offers the three-year N.Dip. Musical Theatre with a similar career-orientated curriculum, training singing and acting dancers.

The Johannesburg Dance Foundation offers the JDF Diploma Course for Professional Dance Performance which provides 3-year full-time training for a career as a professional dancer. The course is open to school-leavers between the ages of 17 and 22 years, who are chosen through auditions, where the main factors of consideration are physical suitability and motivation. Previous dance training is not a pre-requisite, neither is a matric exemption.

- Performing arts councils
- Television
- General entertainment industries
- Dance schools (teaching)
- Work on a freelance basis
- Self-employment, with own dance studio

There is a higher demand for talented male dancers as the number of female dancers generally exceeds the number of jobs available.

Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA)
PANSA National and Gauteng:
Postnet Suite 114
Private Bag X 7
Parkview, 2122
Tel: (011) 880-5486 Fax: (011) 880-5486

PANSA Eastern Cape
Tel: (046) 622 3897 Fax: (046) 636 1582

PANSA Free State
Tel: (051) 401 2815 Fax: (051) 448 3942

PANSA Kwazulu-Natal
Tel/Fax: (031) 261 5518

PANSA Limpopo
Tel/Fax: (015) 295 8924

PANSA Western Cape
Tel/Fax: (021) 674 0520