4 Best Side Hustles For Dancers (That Aren't Waiting Tables)

Let's get real, guys - having a dance career is incredibly difficult. If you're working as a professional performer, your art is your top priority. You have to establish yourself in a city, network with fellow artists, take classes to stay in shape, seek out auditions, and actively pursue performance opportunities. Oh - and you need to pay rent... and eat something that's not ramen! Most dancers - and in fact, artists in all kinds of disciplines - often taken on one, two, or even more part-time jobs just to make ends meet. And there's certainly an age-old joke about dancers waiting tables to pay their bills. And while that's totally cool (and insanely difficult!), there are other ways to make that money! Here are 4 suggestions for how to make your hustle a little more unique and fun.

1. Social Media

One of the most important things dancers considering when applying for a new job is scheduling. It's ideal to find a job that allows you to work your own hours, from wherever you are! Social media allows you to do that. Though some jobs (mostly larger companies) may require you to come into a physical office for meetings, there are tons of social media jobs out there that you can do from the studio, coffee shop, or even your couch (on a rare day off!). Look for smaller companies that may have a team that works entirely remotely, or reach out to particular people (maybe a local choreographer or dance studio) who is looking to build their online presence. Chances are, you're already an Instagram pro, and your instinct knowledge can be invaluable!

2. Gym

Are you paying for a gym membership? Many dancers are - gotta keep that bod in tip-top shape, and cross training is one of the best ways to do that! But have you ever considered how many jobs are available at gyms that could be a perfect fit for you? Front desk is certainly a simple gig - and if you ever get called in for an audition, or need to change shifts before a performance, most gyms have a staff large enough where that would be pretty easy for you. But there are other jobs too - how about lifeguarding? Many gyms have pools, and need someone on duty at all times. Or consider personal training! As a dancer, you already have a lot of the know-how. Getting your certification does take time and energy, but the payoff can be insane! 

3. Front desk at a studio

This one sounds like a dream, but can be a bit tricky. Gigs working the front desk at a studio, particularly larger, more well-known studios, can be a hard position to secure. And most studios offer intern positions, where you aren't paid in money, but rather credits for classes at the studio. But take a step back and consider the value of free classes. Some things are worth just as much, if not more, than money! If you can trade an hour or two of work in exchange for a free class, you're saving money in the long-run. Sure, hours spent at the desk mean that you won't be earning actual dollars elsewhere, but see if you can make it worth your while by scheduling your desk hours back to back with your classes. If you're already heading to the studio, why not tack on a little extra time and save those dolla dolla bills? 

4. Usher at a theater

Though it may sound strange at first, this one is actually a double whammy when you examine it more closely. First, many theaters do pay their ushers per hour - though it’s often not much, anything helps, right? Second - you get to see shows for free! Seek out a theater that has a strong dance program each season. Not only will you be putting a little cash in the bank, but you’ll be feeding your artistic spirit. Seeing performances often not only keeps you inspired, but is also a great way to stay involved in the industry and see what other choreographers and dancers are up to.

I know that going out and trying to find another job may seem daunting, but don't be afraid! Dance has given you a lot of skills that will serve you well in job interviews, and as an employee (find out how a dance major can help with life outside dance). You have so much to offer, both on the stage and off - so get out there and pound that pavement! It's going to take some work - but you’ve got this.

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.