6 Reasons Why Ballet Dancers Make Awesome Employees

Job seekers like me have to understand and be able to articulate what makes them a more superior hire compared to everyone else in the job-seeking crowd.

My interest and training in classical ballet is pretty unique, even if technically I am a non-professional but well-keen ballerina who can match it with the best amateur dancers New York City has to offer.

I know that out of a pool of similar job candidates, my classical ballet training could help me to stand out from the rest of the pack.

This lead me to think about what unique attributes and transferable skills my training in classical ballet could offer to a prospective employer.

I came up with a list. A list of six attributes that make ballet dancers awesome employees and an asset to any workplace:

1. Ballet dancers are teachable

They have to be. Otherwise they won’t be able to learn and master their craft.

Ballet dancers are reliant on their teachers to school them on correct technique, alignment, etiquette, musicality and everything else that goes with ballet in general.

Being teachable requires ballet dancers to listen hard, to hone their focus, to recognise the flaws in what they’re doing and to adjust their movement to the best of their ability.

As such, ballet dancers are used to taking instruction from someone of superior skill and better at their craft than what they are. Even the very best professional ballet dancers still get corrections from their teachers.

2. Ballet dancers are flexible

An obvious choice. But ballet dancers need to be flexible in mind and not just body.

That’s because there’s an awful lot of rules and structure that goes on in ballet. It’s part of what makes it look so beautiful when it’s executed properly.

But within these rules, large chunks of flexibility is required as well.

Ballet dancers are used to dealing with constant change. Ballet teachers and choreographers are constantly revising their choreography and dancers need to be flexible enough to cope with these changes. Ballet dancers live with having their superiors constantly making changes and then having to adjust accordingly.

3. Ballet dancers are fast learners

Part of the skill of being a proficient ballet dancer centres around how quickly you are able to pick up the steps, techniques and other choreography.

As such, ballet dancers are used to being given verbal and visual instructions and quickly translating them into action.

An ability to learn quickly demands an excellent memory, superior listening skills, exceptional concentration and a strong mind-body connection.

4. Ballet dancers are always prepared

Ballet dancers of all people understand the importance of good preparation.

They know that how you set up a pirouette is vital for its final execution. The most complex dance sequences like pirouettes, jumps and other turns simply cannot be executed without the right preparation.

Also, ballet dancers know that all the work and preparation is done behind the scenes. By spending large chunks of class time doing repetitive and routine exercises at the barre. Preparation is key for what the audience sees and enjoys at the centre of the stage.

5. Ballet dancers work hard

It doesn’t matter whether one dances as a hobby or as a professional, the reality is the same for everyone. Ballet is exacting, demanding and hard.

As such, ballet dancers turn up to class, rehearsals or performances ready and willing to buckle down. They are energetic in mind and body and they expect to work hard.

This makes ballet dancers incredibly dedicated to their craft. They are full of passion and love of the art form. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it.

6. Ballet dancers are team players

This sounds silly when ballet looks so much like a solo event. But it’s not.

Dance is a collective. Dancers feed off the energy of those around them. They are used to working in small groups and are reliant on their peers for support, feedback and advice.

Ballet dancers look to other dancers for a sense of community and fun. Some of my most creative and interesting friends are fellow amateur dancers.

In summary, people with classical ballet training are teachable, flexible, fast learners, prepared, hard-working and team players.

The point I am trying to make here is that these attributes are vital for success in dance but they are also vital for success in the modern workplace.

If you find yourself in a situation where you could hire someone with classical ballet training, you should consider whether these kinds of attributes would make for an awesome employee at your workplace. I am willing to bet that they would.

Better yet, find out if the candidate knows what unique attributes their ballet training can offer you as a potential employer. Chances are if they know, they’ll follow through and give you these attributes in spades.

If they know, hire them.

And by them, I really mean me.

Sarah

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79 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why Ballet Dancers Make Awesome Employees

      • Anonymous says:

        As an ex dancer myself I am bound to agree……but, now as an employer I can verify the facts, having employed dancers!!!!

  1. i would add energetic! I think the most important characteristic that I’ve developed as a professional dancer is the ability to self-motivate. Nice post!

    • Thanks Jess. Yours is a great blog too btw. I am enjoying exploring it.

      Definitely energetic! Sometimes I wonder where I get all my energy from. I always say, you need to expend energy to create energy.

  2. Thanks for this great article! I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been marketing myself as a teacher with the skills of a former classical stage actor, and yesterday I got the job! I hope the same happens for you.

    • Hi Freya

      You got the job! Congrats!

      I’m really encouraged that your performance background helped you get over the line.

      I hope the same happens to me too. Hopefully soon. I will certainly keep you all posted!

  3. Great list! I would add that ballet dancers are calm, cool and collected under stress because they learn to perform difficult maneuvers in front of large crowds. They know how to get their nerves under control and project confidence. :-)

  4. very interesting. you may be a ballet dancer, but you also know a lot about the psychology of “job fit”. there is some science behind it! check out affintus.com to learn more. happy to let you complete our questionnaire (no charge) so you can learn more.

    • Hi Paula

      Many thanks for this offer, amazing!

      I do know a lot about psychology, I studied it at length at university. I’m particularly passionate about personality and organisational psychology.

      Thanks again, I look forward to exploring your blog and questionnaire.

  5. As a ballet teacher, I have been telling my students very much what you have written for years. Dancers make the best employees, and my whinge is that my students get the part time jobs over their peers and I have trouble getting them to class on time haha. Honestly, love your article and am going to post it to my time line for all to see. I would like to add that dancers have no thought of sitting and doing nothing but want to keep going, which is a fine attribute for a prospective employer to keep in mind. Good luck with whatever job you are trying to get and all the best for your future. Edrine Keegan (Australia)

    • Hi Edrine

      Cheers for your comments. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post.

      I agree with you, dancers rarely want to sit down. I’m the same!

      I will keep you updated on my job hunting progress. My thanks again!

  6. Hi Sarah,
    What a great article highlighting the many positive transferable skills dancers have.
    I work for a registered charity in the UK, Dancers’ Career Development. We support all professional dancers in the UK to take the first steps towards discovering rewarding post-performance careers, when they are no longer able to perform professionally. We support all professional dancers with free career support services as well as providing the opportunity to apply for financial retraining grants. These grants often enable dancers to obtain accredited qualifications that will help them to gain employment post-performance.

    We are the only organisation of our kind in the UK and are celebrating our 40th Birthday this year! We are keen to raise awareness of what we do with dancers and the general public, so please spread the word.

    Take a look at our website for more information: http://www.thedcd.org.uk/. We are also on Facebook and Twitter @dcd_dancers.

    There are also other organisations around the world dedicated to supporting professional dancers. Check out the International Organisation for the Transition for Professional Dancers (http://www.iotpd.org/)

    Thanks again for the great list (which we have featured on our Facebook and Twitter) and good luck!

    • Hi Jennifer

      Great comment, thanks for taking the time to write it.

      Your organisation has been around for 40 years! That’s amazing!

      Although I’m not technically a professional dancer, I can certainly recognise the value in organisations like the one you work for.

      I meet a lot of dance professionals and many of them at my age scratch their heads and worry about their post-dance future.

      Thanks again for featuring my post. I will keep you updated on my future job hunting.

    • Arrh yes, excellent point. I definitely agree with you.

      I chose to feature ballet in this post because it is the genre for which I have the most passion and training. But certainly, all dancers are dedicated and have similar transferrable skills to offer the workplace.

  7. I’m a past Musical Theatre performer and I am struggling for a job as well! After reading this, and with your permission, I’d love to incorporate some of this into my cover letter! I’m with yah girl…let’s get some work!! Break a leg :)

    • Hi Penny

      Of course, I’m happy to assist.

      Please feel free to use whatever you need from this post in your cover letter.

      Good luck! Please drop me a line and let me know how you go. I’ll be sure to do the same.

  8. I agree entirely. I have two daughters, 16 and 19, who have danced since age three. The discipline, hard work and attention to detail they need to master their various types of dancing have, I firmly believe, helped enormously in their school life too.

    • Great stuff! Thanks for sharing.

      I hadn’t thought about how youngsters who grow up with dance get exposed to these kinds of life lessons from an early age. You’re absolutely right!

  9. Ck from Asia says:

    Well put! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Forwarded your article to my cousin who is currently learning ballet. She was a cheerleader too.

  10. Jenn says:

    Great article! Although I’m not currently looking for a job, I will remember this if the need is ever there.

    I’d probably add that dancers can handle critique, and that’s something that’s really important in the working world. I’ve found that it’s easier for me to be corrected, in fact, I ask for it! We also strive to do it right. Both things dance training has helped with.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jenn

      Yes, I agree completely.

      If I could go back and re-write this post, I would add that ballet dancers, in fact all dancers, have a heightened ability to take critiques and corrections. Another invaluable skill for the workplace.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  11. I would also go so far as to say that dancers make great entrepreneurs (being one myself). It takes the same commitment, flexibility, creativity and hard work to be your own boss and employee. Nice one Sarah.

    • Thanks Monika!

      Dancers as awesome entrepreneurs, of course!

      I’d never thought of it like that. Makes sense really, as you say.. commitment, flexibility and hard work! All good.

  12. will knapp says:

    observation on the difference between actors and dancers:

    when asked to jump an actor will say “why would my character be jumping at this time?” while a dancer will say “how high?”

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  14. Anonymous says:

    great article. Will certainly keep in mind the next time I need to look for a job (I am a PhD biochemist). Would love to send to my current boss however not sure she would be appreciative…

  15. Phyllis Dan says:

    Great article-will certainly keep in mind next time I have to look for a job. Would love to send to my current boss however not sure she would be appreciative…

    • Hi Phyllis

      Thanks for the feedback. Always appreciated.

      You never know, your boss might like it? Or you could work some of the points into your next cover letter or job interview.

      Good luck!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I love this article! My two daughters are training in classical ballet. My oldest who is now 12 wanted to “retire” 3 years ago and I am so glad that I pushed her to stay in because she has recently fallen in love w ballet. The focus and attention to detail required in dance has transpired in her school work and other areas of her life! My youngest daughter one, not so much, LOL… Her carefree spirit is her likeable asset but I know that ballet will help offer her the discipline to mature in other areas!

    • A couple of readers have commented about the benefits young people get from early ballet training when it comes time for them to enter the workforce.

      Makes total sense to me. All of the skills I list can certainly carry over for young people as well.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is fantastic. I am a recent college grad who underwent several rounds of interviews and job applications. After training in classical ballet since the age of three (seriously since age 10), my bachelors of fine arts always made me feel slightly underparr compared to my friends with business majors. Fortunately, my counselor reinforced the platform behind my years of training. Traits like the ability to take constructive criticism, easily teachable, team and individual player, perform in various different settings, work well under pressure, time management, punctuality, and others, were all ammo I was able to bring to the table during interviews. Needless to say I got a job and found some faith in myself. It’s great to see others bringing this subject to light! Thank you, thank you!

    • having faith in yourself is key – contrary to what we typically believe, education (and experience) are not the best predictors of whether we will be successful in a job (although most employers would have us believe that is the case). characteristics that Sarah identified are better indications of which jobs we fit, and which ones are not for us! good luck!

      • Thanks again Paula.

        It’s a shame that employers focus so strongly on education and experience. That has certainly been my experience in my job search. I’ve written about this issue recently too, from an experience point of view.

        Good to know I’m hitting the mark with this kind of information. To me, the type of skill set I describe holds true. I only wish more employers would see it that way!

    • Great story!

      I’m thrilled your ballet training has paid off as you’ve transitioned into the workforce.

      Your counselor was right on the money. Punctuality, ability to take criticism, team player.. they’re all lifelong skills.

      Well done and good luck out there!

  18. Anonymous says:

    LOVE this article!!!! I think that this can apply to really any craft (especially dancers/musicians of any kind). As a dancer, this article is awesome. and I am able to relate to what the article said!

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  20. Hi Sarah, thanks for this awesome article :) having been a dancer for 19 years now and at the age of 22 being the prime age for employment, I feel that these attributes are completely true of any dancer. Thank you for highlighting these underlying competences necessary for any work environment.

    • Hi Sarah!

      Thanks for commenting.

      You have more extensive ballet training than what I do so I’m thrilled you agree with the points I make in my post.

      My best to you.

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  22. Annette says:

    Love this! I’d add that ballet dancers have a sense of beauty, art and musicality. So, the list gets longer and longer… :-)

    • Cian Curran says:

      It’s the elegance and discipline that makes them stand out to me, two characteristics that are getting harder to find by the day.

  23. … and not to forget: Ballet dancers love what they do!
    Not sure whether I’ll love my future workplace as much as I love ballet, though. :-)

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  25. Glyn Scott says:

    Very true… I transitioned from a professional ballet career after I got injured into the aviation industry.
    As a male ballet dancer training to be a pilot and gaining the required qualifications to apply for an airline it seemed almost impossible to me at the time that I would be hired with such an artistic background.
    In my airline interview I was heavily questioned on my previous career. I put forward these very attributes and skills dancers have as mentioned above to the panel. I explained discipline and dedication are the driving force behind every dancer.
    I’m fortunate and proud to say my airline recognized these qualities and gave me the opportunity to work for them. I’m now a First Officer with the airline and have flown several thousand hours in this position.
    Ballet gave me the strength, determination, and passion to go out and achieve the best I could in both my careers.
    Dancers should know that their greatest strengths as a dedicated artist is what lays a strong foundation to their future professions, whatever that may be.

    • Thanks James, yeah it is a gem :)

      I didn’t think much of it when I wrote it months ago. Now that it’s resonated with so many, I have very much changed my mind.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    I’ve begun studying ballet dancers because I believe of all the people I could learn from the most, it’s ballerinas. And that includes astronauts.

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