Dance is a form of motion art. By dancing beside the protagonist on stage or on screen, a backup dancer adds significance and dimension to the work. Backup Dancers participate in a variety of gigs, contributing to the success of celebrities and their concerts, tours, and music videos. They are flexible not only in body but in their diversity of talents, trained to near perfection in technique, and persistently coping with rehearsals and performances.
Similar Job Titles
- Background Dancer
- Professional Dancer
- Backup Dancer
- Ballet Dancer
- Tap Dancer
- Jazz Dancer
- Hip-Hop Dancer
- Ballroom Dancer
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Backup Dancers do?
A Backup Dancer would typically need to:
- At live shows and events, or in recorded music video productions, dance with exquisite skill behind or alongside the main performing artist(s), lending visual symmetry, rhythm, attractiveness, and variation to the act.
- Improve their performance skills on a regular basis and broaden their portfolio to incorporate emerging or more sophisticated dance genres and routines for audience delight.
- Prepare for and attend auditions and casting sessions to land a part in a play or a full-time role in a dance or theatre group.
- Rehearse and exercise several hours each day to prepare for a performance
- Collaborate with instructors, choreographers, and other dancers to discuss and interpret routines, offering changes as appropriate.
- Learn and put other abilities, such as singing and acting, to use in musical theatre productions.
- Take care of the team’s health and safety, which necessitates knowledge of physiology and anatomy, as well as the proper usage of costumes, props, and equipment.
- Participate in promotional activities such as photoshoots for the current production.
- Sending out one’s CV, images, and footage, delivering presentations and running workshops, attending auditions and meetings are all ways to promote oneself.
Standard Work Environment
A Backup Dancer’s working environment is determined by the show in which they are involved. A theatre, a recording studio, a concert hall, or an outdoor stage are all possibilities. They could even perform in places like amusement parks and cruise ships.
Touring to play at one or more places in your home country or perhaps abroad is likely, resulting in extended times away from home.
Work hours for a Backup Dancer are typically long and unsocial. They usually practise throughout the day and perform at night, especially for live events and concerts on tours. Some shows may run for multiple days at a time. You would adhere to recording studio hours if you were a part of a music video production.
Choreographers who work in dance schools may have a standard workweek, but they must also put in lengthy hours on their own to create dance routines for their students.
Backup dancers often operate as freelancers, looking for gigs or short-term contractual work. Some dancing companies may provide full-time employment.
Finding a new job may appear difficult. Backup dancers might improve their employment hunt by soliciting references from their network and personally contacting dance or theatrical organizations or other related employers. They may also use job search portals, attend career fairs, leverage social media by creating an online portfolio that includes dance videos, enquire at local listings, or search online for casting call notifications.
Backup Dancers are generally employed by:
- Performing Dance Companies
- Musical Theatre Companies
- Community Dance Organisations
- Private Dance Schools
- Clubs & Cabarets
- Cruise Ships
- Educational Institutions
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional associations and organizations, such as the International Dance Organisation (IDO), are essential for Backup Dancers who want to advance their careers or interact with other professionals in their industry or employment. Membership in one or more of these organizations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- On-the-job injuries due to the intense physical demands of dance; high risk of overexertion due to long workdays and inadequate rest
- The need to perfect the four main styles of dance – ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and modern
- A fast-paced and highly competitive field
- The need to engage in constant professional development, specializing in styles such as tap or mime, learn evolving techniques, or master complex moves
- Develop a related skill, such as acting or singing, to stand out in the crowd
- Spending much of your free time on dance classes and fitness routines
- The need to take directions well, be quick at grasping dance steps and routines, and be able to memorize the choreography
- The need to stay physically flexible while also curious to learn and determined to succeed; have a remarkable sense of rhythm and synchronization
- The need to demonstrate the flawless technique while remaining receptive to constructive feedback and making constant improvements and adjustments
- The need for excellent attitude and interpersonal skills, since colleagues must collaborate for long periods during rehearsals, tours, and filming sessions
- Finding a reliable and efficient agent or agency and building an extensive network of contacts through which you can source gigs
- The need for an alternative source of income since injuries are common and work may be in the form of one-time gigs
- Retirement in their thirties results in idleness in later life
Suggested Work Experience
Backup Dancers generally work as freelancers and in gigs. However, there is a wide spectrum of experience among them. Some may have been formally trained since they were children. Others may have started dancing informally in high school or university through clubs and societies. Each gig would have its own set of criteria.
A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance program, for example, often requires supervised experience through internships. When your tasks outside of the classroom precisely align with your teachings inside, you will get the most out of them. When more experienced workers manage to turn seemingly ordinary occurrences into unique learning experiences, you may be able to hear endless stories from them and gain significant hands-on knowledge.
A local dance company, a dancing school, or other vacation activities can help shape your career as a Backup Dancer by providing the vital experience. You can volunteer or pay to participate in a local group at weddings, festivals, or other occasions.
To demonstrate your devotion to course providers and future employers, read about the profession and interview or job shadow expert dancers and choreographers. You might even consider starting your own business.
Although a formal degree is not required, some prospective Backup Dancers pursue postsecondary education, especially those who want to be choreographers or dance instructors. Formal schooling aids in the development of dance techniques and the creation of a diverse portfolio of performances.
Certain schools and universities offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dance through the theatre or fine arts departments. Coursework in many dance forms, such as modern dance, ethnic dance, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop, as well as choreography, performance, and dance history, are common in degree programs.
Backup dancer training begins at an early age, especially for those who specialize in ballet. As students grow older and join high school, it becomes more formal and concentrated, and it continues throughout their lives. Major professional dance companies provide intensive summer training programs and admittance to their regular full-time training programs to hopefuls. The majority of freshmen in college dance programs have received prior formal instruction to improve their dancing techniques and performance variety.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
Although certification is not required, it confirms a Backup Dancer’s proficiency in a skill set, often through job experience, training, and passing an examination. It can help you stand out in a competitive employment market, carry a large salary premium of up to 18%, boost your prospects of progression, and allow you to become an independent consultant if obtained from an objective and reputable company. By including a Code of Ethics, successful certification programs defend the public welfare.
Projected Career Map
Although the path for a Backup Dancer is not well-defined, performance, experience, and the acquisition of professional qualifications drive career advancement.
Typically, you would start your career as a performing dancer or in a related but non-performance sector by adding another part of dance to your repertoire of talents.
Backup dancers can advance their careers by working as Assistant Choreographers before becoming full-fledged Choreographers. Dance or choreography could lead to a career as a producer or director for theatre, film, or television.
If you are promoted to Dance Captain in a musical theatre company, you will be responsible for leading rehearsals or coaching the dance team in the choreographer’s absence. If audiences and organisations recognise and appreciate your talent, you could become an independent and popular performer who employs other Backup Dancers in their own shows.
Another option is to work as a Dance Teacher in the private or public sector. You might run your own dance classes or a franchise within a health and fitness club. You may even pursue a career as a Movement Coach, Physical Therapist, or Dance Therapist. Some backup dancers advance in the entertainment sector as actors or media figures.
Other positions you could pursue include Dance Notator. Writing about dance or running the administrative side of a dance group are two more possible career choices.
Aspiring Substitute Dancers that start training at an early age and gain abilities and expertise in a variety of dances and related areas, as well as construct a strong portfolio demonstrating the same, have the best work possibilities. Those who are constantly learning new dance moves and attending auditions increase their marketability.
Beneficial Professional Development
Continuing professional development (CPD) will assist an active Backup Dancer in developing personal skills and expertise through work-based learning, a professional activity, and formal education.
Whether traditional schooling or self-directed learning is used. It enables you to always improve your skills, regardless of your age, employment, or degree of expertise.
Although a formal degree is not required, some prospective Backup Dancers pursue postsecondary education, particularly those who want to be choreographers or dance instructors in the future. Formal schooling aids in the development of dance techniques and the creation of a diverse portfolio of performances.
A Backup Dancer, whether skilled or inexperienced, must continue to study and enhance their technique by attending daily classes. Even an unemployed dancer must train in order to maintain and increase skills. To enhance conventional dance motions, backup dancers must acquire new dance styles by attending various dance events or workshops.
To advance in this job, you must be willing to take direction and accept constructive criticism, as well as contribute your thoughts and suggestions to the director or choreographer.
Working in dance-related fields such as choreography, community theatre, dance instruction, notation, singing, and acting can help you raise your income and expand your portfolio.
You must always maintain good health and fitness routines in order to stay fit, healthy, and qualified for the job. Some dancers may even pursue additional training in order to provide complementary therapies, work as personal trainers, or run fitness programs such as yoga, Pilates, and the Alexander Technique.
If you want to work in dance administration and development, you can supplement your education with short courses in IT and project management.
Despite the fact that you are not the centre of attention, you perform an important role in making the lead appear good. Every project demands a backup plan, and every storm necessitates the installation of a backup generator. Backup dancers are the life of the stage, show, or film, even when they perform in the background as part of a team in large-scale productions such as concerts, musicals, or revues.
Advice from the Wise
Self-promotion will help to reinforce your talent and determination. Allow your performance to both entertain and tell a tale. Make effective use of your motions, gestures, and facial expressions to represent a character, story, circumstance, or abstract concept. Make diversity and versatility the defining characteristics of your portfolio. Continuously improve yourself and adapt to ever-changing styles by learning new approaches. Attend auditions with unwavering energy and optimism. Create a strong contact network. Showcase your dance abilities on social media to attract agencies and employers.