Commercial Dancer

Meghan Hanrahan

What Does it Take to Become a Commercial Dancer?

A commercial dancer is a dancer that appears in music videos, as back-up dancers on tours, on cruise lines, in shows, and in commercials. They must go through many auditions and be able to handle rejection often. You must maintain your technique and versatility by taking a variety of different classes. You must also keep a look out for people to network with. You need to have multiple years of dance training. A college major in dance may help you in auditions because of people you meet in college and the training you get during college. Preferred job skills for this job are the ability to manage time, the ability to handle more than one thing at a time/stress, and the ability to work well with others.
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Job Outlook

The need for commercial dancers is estimated to increase by 12%. The typical salary for this career is about $8.93-$34.22 an hour ($18,570-$71,180 a year). This type of work is more common in California, New York, Nevada, Chicago, and Florida. This is because this is where the big industries are for music videos, shows, and cruise ships. These working conditions are often very stressful because there are usually a small time frame to finish and learn the dances. Some hazards and disadvantages are busy work weeks, highly prone to injury from dancing all the time, and late nights. Also, everything will be at a different location so transportation can be an issue. Employment for this can very because you can go through at time where you aren't getting any gigs to a time you are getting almost all of them.
DancePulp - Heather Lang: The Life of a Commercial Dancer in NYC

High School Preparation

Courses that would benefit me at leyden:

Two courses that would benefit me are athletic PE and physical management. This is because these classes help you stay in shape and also teach you how to stay shape. As a dancer this is crucial because you need to be able to do the dances, but also look the part because in the dance world image is everything.

Extracurricular activities that would benefit me at Leyden:

Two extra curricular activities that would benefit me are poms and orchesis. These are both dance related activities and would help me greater my dance training.

Volunteer Work:

Things you can volunteer for that would better your career are performing at community events in order to get your image out. Every Time you perform you are networking and helping yourself get into the dance world. Also, you can help out at a dance studio or at an agency. This could benefit you because they could later help you get jobs in the commercial dance industry.

“The people who are successful in L.A. work their tails off. It’s OK to work hard—and in the end it’s a sweeter deal anyway, because you worked for it.” -Mandy Moore


Having good references is very important because they can be the deciding factor on if you get the job or not. If you put down a reference that doesn't have a good idea about you, it can really hurt your likely hood of getting the job. Your references are there in order to help you get the job. They are there to speak highly about you, if you worked well with them in the past.

My References:

  1. Richard A. Smith - Artistic Director of Inaside Chicago Dance Company

  2. Nancy Suwalski - Fine Arts Supervisor for the Des Plaines Park District

  3. Sarah Ford - Dancer and Choreographer

Post-Secondary Plans

In order to reach my career goal I will have to go to college as a dance major.

Colleges with good dance programs:

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

University of Arizona, Tucson

Ohio State University, Columbus

UCLA, Los Angeles

University of Texas, Austin

Going into the commercial dance industry, you need to have a good dance training background. This is going to help in auditions because it will show that you are a versatile dancer and have the training to easily pick up choreography. Taking an internship[ at a well known dance studio can also help you get your name into this industry. This is because the people you work with will most likely know someone that can get you an audition or a gig.