This is one of the smaller sections of Scotland’s creative economy — but it’s also one of the furthest reaching.
There are five agencies or professional bodies helping to develop the sector across the country, as well as year-round events, workshops and exhibitions on a local and national level. This section focuses on the professional sector, and on building your career in dance.
The big picture
There are five main bodies for professional dance in Scotland. Dance Base in Edinburgh is the national centre for dance. It supports professional dancers and gets people involved through community classes and an outreach programme.
The Scottish Dance Theatre at Dundee Rep Theatre is Scotland’s leading contemporary repertoire dance company, touring locally and internationally. Y-Dance in Glasgow is the national dance development agency for young people, inspiring children and young people across the country. And City Moves is the dance development agency for the north east of Scotland, based in Aberdeen.
Finally, the Scottish Ballet is one of the five national agencies to have a direct funding relationship with the Scottish Government. As well as touring nationally and internationally, it has significant outreach and education programmes, and offers opportunities to young dancers through an associate programme.
Besides these main five, there are numerous smaller organisations directly supported by Creative Scotland funding – you can find out more using the links below.
Working in dance
Only a tiny percentage of people who train as dancers end up as performers, but there’s no shortage of alternative careers within the sector. On the performance side, there’s choreography, costume and set design, production support and all levels of backstage and administrative roles. Dance companies also need outreach and education workers, management and PR staff.
Away from the stage, the most common career is in teaching, either in schools or the community. Teachers may be freelance, running their own companies, or working with health services, schools and local authorities to deliver classes that promote physical and mental health.
There’s a comprehensive careers guide available from One Dance UK – we’ve provided a link below.
Developing your skills
There are plenty of official qualifications available to help you change or progress in your dance career. Both national qualifications and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are presented by institutions all over the country.
Organisations like One Dance UK offer seminars, training and mentoring to help you develop business and leadership skills, as well as networking opportunities that support peer-to-peer learning. Dancers’ Career Development is specifically designed to help professional dancers move on in their careers through coaching, workshops, mentoring and retraining.
Dance Base — Scotland’s National Centre for Dance — provides a professional programme with classes, workshops and performance opportunities for professional dancers, as well as resources that support continued professional development and management.
Creative Scotland can help organisations or individuals to deliver specific projects or fund specific opportunities in dance. Cash Back for Creativity, for example, is funded by the Scottish Government and offers open or targeted funding for people or organisations delivering engagement and learning activities for young people.
Dancers’ Career Development and the International Dance Teachers’ Association may also be able to help you with funding to support training, retraining or career development.
Looking for sound advice and/or a sounding board?
Contact us to organise a meeting with one of our experienced and friendly creative industry advisors.