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Company Life: Income Part time for dancers


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Would anyone like to share their experience as to what are the most lucrative and practical part-time job skills for dancers to have?

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Learn to waitress and/or tend bar. Humble as it may be, in my experience it is where you can earn the most dollars for the fewest hours invested. There are always jobs available for good servers & the money is much better than what is usually paid to part time employees for other jobs (at least in my city). For instance, a part time Receptionist job typically pays $10-$12/hour so you would have to work 16-20 hours to earn $200. With waitressing, you are tipped on your sales (typically 20% for fine dining) so it is not unusual for a waitress in a "fine dining" restaurant to earn that in one evening.

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We work with a dancer who designs websites and dances for a company fulltime. Self taught and works in off hours but gets the job done well. Websites such as lynda.com can help a dancer gain knowledge in how to work in technology. Marketing is something they have to learn however but if they are technically literate and creative they can do a lot in their off time.

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My DD is having success working in a large dance supply store, which includes being trained to fit pointe shoes. She doesn't make too much more than the minimum wage, but it is providing her 24 hours of work a week (she is in college) and, unexpectedly, given her an entree to substitute teaching and possible backstage/guest work with small studios. And she has only been working there about 7 weeks! The connections she is making this way will hopefully further her ballet future along whatever path she chooses to follow.

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Thanks, ceecee, vivaballet and tutu2you. It's helpful to hear what working dancers manage to do to bring home their dinner and pay their rent, often while also taking part-time courses. Each of these jobs has its own type of advantage! Very interesting.

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Dixie- From my experience, to become a pointe shoe fitter one must get the job with the dance store first. Then they will train you. Having previous knowledge/experience in sales, general knowledge of the products and availability for the times that they need will get you an interview usually. I was lucky and the owner of the local store is connected to my company, I already had one foot in the door. But, from what I've noticed, most dance stores do not have high turnovers and it's like a company...luck and good timing play a role in getting hired.


Playing devils advocate with bartending and waitressing. I've done both for years. Yes you have the opportunity to make a great income...if you land a good club/restaurant. Otherwise the majority of the time you more or less make minimum wage.

At a restaurant you stand up for hours on end before and after your full work load at the company. With the added problem of lugging around heavy trays. It almost never failed, close to showtime seems to be the busy times in the restaurant. Heavy trays+Long days=Back and overuse injuries.

Now bartending is less strenuous, although you still usually are required to manage the kegs and ice bins (so much ice...). The downside of it though is the LATE nights. I'm talking you are lucky if you are out by 3am. Still have the music and adrenaline from running and being charming all night long, so it is hard to hit the bed within an hour. Then realize you have class at 10am and a full day of rehearsal in front of you. Very hard to do, but financially very rewarding.

IMO though, best option is to go the cocktail waitress route if you want to do service industry. Usually out before the bartenders, and can come in later (leave early if it is dead), with the possibility of making good money, and no heavy trays.

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My DD got the job at the dance store, first, and then after a few weeks they started to train her how to fit the pointe shoes. She was not allowed to do it on her own for a while. Right now, it seems that she primarily fits students new to pointe, most of whom come with their teachers or studio owners to help. Just to clarify, my DD is a full time college student that dropped out of the ballet program (injured) and is now trying to find a way back in to dance.


She got her job at the beginning of the school year when the prior students working there were leaving after the summer to pursue other jobs. She was recommended by a dancer working there previously, who had danced with my DD for years at our home studio, and then spent a year in the same college program together. When the older girl graduated, she recommended my DD to replace her.

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Fine dining is the way to go if you are going to serve ($40+ customer average). You will probably have to gain some experience (6 mos to a year) somewhere else in order to get a job, but it is a very good thing for earning extra cash. Not hard to get a foot in the door by starting on a slower night of the week. Turnover is pretty high in the restaurant industry though, so you can quickly move into a busier shift. I am speaking from personal experience, by the way. I took my first waitressing job at a diner more than 30 years ago & although my life has taken many twists and turns, artist, dance teacher, bookkeeper, entrepreneur... I have gone back to waitressing at lean times & times of transition (like now, haha!). Although I have in the past worked in the kind of environment dancingmeghan describes above, fine dining serving is actually quite a different experience. Most restaurants open at 5 and close at 10.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm not a full-time dancer, but wanted to mention what I do: I tutor children. Generally, I can plan it around my schedule. I make much more per hour than I used to when working in retail and it has the added bonus of you not having to be on your feet all the time (one of the parents even makes me coffee/tea :grinning: ). I found it less tiring and more compatible to my schedule than being an au pair/nanny. Also, if you play a musical instrument at a relatively high level, you could teach beginner music lessons. One dance teacher I know also works as an accompanist for ballet exams (of course, you need to play the piano for that). Many of the dancers I know teach ballet after hours at various studios (not every night, but a few times a week).

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One of my DDs worked during her years of full-time training as a "caller/interviewer" for a large market-research company. That was possible because she is fluent in two languages they had customers in; so if you can speak some other language quite well, then you could perhaps work in that sort of thing, calling and interviewing people in other parts of the world "off hours". (when it is business-time in the US, for example, it is evening here)

The pay was quite good, considering, and there was a short "training period" and she was able to sit down and put her feet up on the job. :)



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  • 1 year later...


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DD is a certified GYROTONIC trainer (not shouting, it is the trademark name :blush:) It took an outlay of money and a focused commitment to obtain the certification, but she is pleased to have it. Took a little while to find the right studio to get started building a clientele in her current city, but it pays very well and she can set her schedule around her dance classes, project work , and auditions for that ever elusive contract. It provides a lot of flexibility with significant hourly rate pay.

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My DD has thought about teaching dance and certifying in pilates. How much does a young dance teacher make per hour?

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backstagemom: I think how much dance teachers make per hour really depends on the region of the country. Generally, studios in some cities pay much better than others. The majority of the dancers in my company teach on the side (our schedule has us finish rehearsals early enough so that we can get out and teach). I happen to be in a city that pays pretty well. I currently make $35/hour and I know others who are paid more. On the other hand, I know dancers who are dancing in other major cities of other states who make $25/hr, and that is considered "good."


You just have to be a little bit more aware of side jobs like teaching...you are working as an independent contractor, so be ready for tax season!

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