Communities are embracing the value of dance and dance programmes, providing new career opportunities for graduates.

Move your thinking

Dance is playing an increasingly important part in the community context. Hospitals, rest homes, schools and cultural organisations have benefited from establishing dance programmes.

Twenty years ago, dance only meant dancing professionally. The career landscape is much bigger now and dance education is more relevant than ever before.

One of our aims is to educate young dancers to be entrepreneurial, to be confident, to take risks, explore ideas and to ‘sell’ themselves.

The social benefits of dance are very clear. Medical research suggests positive movement of the body through dance can assist on a neurological level.

With these findings, increased importance is being placed on implementing dance programmes within a variety of community contexts, leading to higher employment in the dance disciplines for both trained dancers and administrators.  

Sector outlook

Career prospects in dance are opening up as awareness of the growing importance of the arts increases.

A long-term career as a professional dancer is competitive and requires a high level of technical training and theoretical understanding. New Zealand has a small number of larger scale professional dance companies with full time salaried positions, and it is not unrealistic for New Zealand dancers to join overseas companies as well.

There are also a wide range of administrative positions within dance companies requiring dance expertise.

Many dancers establish their own dance crews and perform privately or in competition. Various strands of teaching exist, including secondary level and private tutoring, or perhaps owning your own dance studio. There is also the option of teaching dance at a tertiary level and continuing to research the history, impact and reach of the discipline.

The community and wellness benefits of dance are often overlooked. Dance can invigorate communities such as the elderly, ill or those with special needs, and contribute to people’s ongoing positive mental and physical progression. Increasingly, organisations are seeking practitioners with experience in these areas.  

Trudy’s story

After completing her Master of Dance Studies, Trudy Dobbie learned the multicultural value of dance and was able to enter her teaching profession on a higher pay scale.  

Job options

University of Auckland graduates are performing in companies such as Atamira Dance Company, Footnote and Identity Dance Company, while some have set up their own companies (VOU in Fiji).

Others are working in non-performing roles for companies such as Queensland Ballet, The New Zealand Dance Company and Basement Theatre.

Many graduates have found employment in teaching, working within the community, in design, cinematography or as independent practitioners. Possible career options include:

  • Professional dancer
  • Professional choreographer
  • Artistic director
  • Dance teacher
  • Community dance
  • Dance photography/journalism
  • Physical therapy
  • Dance fitness instructor
  • Academic research