How Much Do Backup Dancers Make?

How Much Do Backup Dancers Make

Are you one of those interested in the question, “how much do backup dancers make?” If yes, then you are in the right place. Dancing is a profession that is gaining the traction it deserves. Without dancers, you will agree with me that music videos, movies, music tours, TV commercials, and most media contents would be empty and boring. So, backup dancers add flavor to videos, particularly music videos. Anyway, they are not doing it for free. Anyway, let’s go back to the question;

How much are backup dancers making? 

Firstly, you cannot expect big stars like Jay-Z, Beyonce, and even Ariana Grande to pay their dancers an amount similar to what an upcoming artist would offer. These are already big stars that are well-established financially and otherwise. Therefore, there is a high tendency for their tours and even music videos to make the headlines. However, the average amount dancers, particularly in the U.S make, ranges from $28,640 to $43,068. Other factors can also influence how much a dancer can make annually. These include education, skill levels, experience, and certification.

So, that is it about the amount dancers make, but there is more you need to know. So, continue reading!

How Dancers Make Their Money

Dancing is a professional career, only that most people don’t treat it as such. There are dancers with degrees. In other words, this set of people went to a higher institution. Examples of dancers with a degree include Peter Chu, Cat Cogliandro, and Miguel Zarate.

Also, most dancers do not possess degrees, but that doesn’t mean they cannot or do not get paid for their work. If you are talented and skilled, you can go higher in the industry.

Dancing is a means of livelihood for many individuals and has been so many years ago. Individuals who dance, treat it as a job, and get paid for their work. The payment could be per show, hours, or according to the agreement reached between the promoter or entertainment company and the proposed dancer.

So, how do dancers make money with their dancing skills? Well, there are big companies that have standby dancers. They hire dancers and pay them as salary earners. Furthermore, the smaller-sized companies also hire dancers. And being that they have limited resources, they only pay per show or on a contract basis.

Anyway, I am going to elaborate on how dancers get paid. The details provided will help wannabe dancers to plan, make an educated decision, and also know what to expect before embarking on this journey.

So, here are the four types of dancers and how they make their cash.

1. Dancers hired by a company

As I mentioned earlier, some companies hire dancers and place them on a salary like regular office workers. And companies that promote such arrangements are well-established financial and in popularity.

These companies have the resource, high demand for dancers, and know the business inside-out. They are more interested in hiring dancers that would work with them for an extended period, not one that is not ready to be tied down by a company.

So, if you are serious about building a career in dancing, then you should consider heading to such companies. The good thing about them is that dancers have the opportunity to progress in their positions, which means more pay and popularity over time.

Most of these companies hire dancers to teach dance lessons or perform in music videos, shows, and so on. Examples include the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. The company started in 1958 by dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, and based in New York.

Another prominent company that hires dancers and places them on a salary is ABT. And as I said, these are established and large companies that have the resources for such an arrangement. The smaller companies don’t have that kind of money. So, they prefer to hire and pay dancers on a per-show basis.

2. Working as a dance teacher (primary, secondary or college level)

If you plan to make dancing a long-term career, you should be aiming for a top academic position or to work as a dance lecturer in a college. But truth be told, becoming a professor or senior lecturer in dance is not a day’s job. Nevertheless, if you work harder and pursue your goal with passion, you will get to the top in no time.

As a dance professor, your duty will be to teach the various dance technique, as indicated in the curriculum. You will be teaching different courses related to dance. Dance is usually under the department of theatre art. Plus, individuals who wish to become dance teachers at the college level are required to possess a Master’s degree.

You can also choose to become a full-time professor, where you will continuously receive your salary- a professor-grade level salary. Or you can become an adjunct professor, where you will only get paid per course or hours taught.

If you are aiming to teach in primary or secondary schools, then you must obtain a college degree and certification to do so. It will also be best to learn about the requirements in your state before applying for jobs.

3. Work as a freelance (commercial) dancer

Here is another category of dancers. When you become a commercial dancer, it means that your only interest is to work on a per-project basis and nothing more. Even if the project is for a year, you are in. Once it ends, you are out there seeking the next dance project to jump on and make some money.

So, the best description for these sets of dancers is “freelance dancers.” That is how freelancers enjoy working. Once they are done with a project, they move to the next one and then the next.

Without a doubt, being a commercial dancer comes with a hefty price. In some days, weeks, and months, your wallet would be filled up with cash, and you can pay your bills comfortably. In some days, you will encounter dry spells.

It is important to note that dancing is highly competitive. So, it is essential to growing your network and be serious about what puts food on your table. When you impress your employers time and time again, you may likely get a call to partake in other projects.

Furthermore, as a commercial dancer, you may have to jump from one audition to another for the sake of landing a gig. Additionally, one thing that makes working as a commercial or freelance dancer attractive is the opportunity to work with different choreographers, build your skills, experience, and portfolio.

You can also choose to work with an agent or go solo. Most people want agents because they help their dancers get paid what they are worth and do the job hunting on their behalf. When they succeed in landing a project, they usually demand commission once the dancer gets paid.

The Different Type Of Dances

The dance started many centuries ago. It represents togetherness, victory, confidence, contentment, and sexuality. For the records, there is hardly any music video you will see without dancers moving their bodies to the rhythm of the beat.

Let’s look at some popular dances.

1. Ballet

How can we talk about dances and not say a word about ballet? It would be an injustice to do such. Ballet became popular way back in the 15th century, which was the year it also began. It originated first in Italy and later in France. Excitingly, many other dance styles were influenced by ballet, which shows how important it is.

2. Jazz 

Jazz has a firm root in the African continent and made its way into jazz clubs back in the 20th century. It’s one of the lively dance styles, which requires a great deal of improvising, dramatic body movements, and originality.

3. Hip-hop dance

From clowning and krumping to juking and jerkin, Hip-hop, a dance step considered a jazz descendent, has passed through a series transformation to become more entertaining to watch. This dance style started in the 1970s in New York, particularly from the Puerto Rican and African communities.

4. Latin dance

Latin dance is still trendy today. But then, it means several street-style and ballroom dancing, not one particular style. The dance started during the 19 and 20th centuries and has deep roots in Europe and the African continent.

Other types of dances include;

  1. Modern dance
  2. Swing dance
  3. Contra dance
  4. Folk dance
  5. Flamenco dance
  6. Country and Western dance

Making Money As A Dancer: 4 Ways To Increase Your Earning Capacity

Have you been thinking about quitting your dance career because of high bills and little or no dance jobs coming your way? You are not alone. But before you call it quits, I would like to inform you that you can increase your earning capacity and make extra money on the side. Here’s what you can do to achieve that;

1. Promote your services: 

Don’t always wait for the next call to audition for a music video or dance project, start promoting your services. You can join platforms like GigSalad, to gain more exposure.

2. Start private dance classes: 

Rent a space and run an advert on your social media pages or via other means to attract clients. You can target kids or adults. However, the beginning might be challenging, so get ready to apply some creativity and initiative to make the business work. You can teach your first students for free, create videos, and upload them online to inspire and attract other paying clients.

3. Sell stuff online: 

Dancing requires costumes, isn’t it? So, raise money from the proceeds of your work and start selling different dance costumes. Your fellow dancers would need them.

4. Become an all-round freelancer:

If you are not working with a company full-time, then it means you have some free time. So, consider offering other freelance services besides dancing. There are many of them you can do online.


How much do backup dancers make is the question, which this post is centered on. You can see that there are different types of dancers, with regards to how they earn money, too. However, besides cash, dancing is a beautiful and highly beneficial activity. It benefits the body and can help to boost one’s health.

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