Even the Government Calls Dance the Most Active Job in the U.S.

August 17, 2016

We don’t need anybody to tell us how physically grueling a career in dance is. We’ve known what we signed up for perhaps since the early moment when a teacher made us repeat that frappé combo—for the sixth time.

Even though we’re well aware, that doesn’t mean we mind it if the government acknowledges dancers’ hard work. Well, that sort of happened when Business Insider analyzed data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a database of job details put together by the U.S. Department of Labor. The online publication determined which occupations require people to be the most physically active and came up with a list of the 27 most rigorous jobs. Unsurprisingly, dance took the top spot.

“Yeah, my job is totally easy!” screamed dancer Samantha Jakus as she ran down the side of Bergdorf Goodman for an Elizabeth Streb work. Um, no. (Photo Courtesy Bergdorf Goodman.)

But what’s interesting are the factors that went into play. O*NET assigns a number from 1 (low) to 100 (high) about different aspects of a job, and Business Insider looked at the figures for these five criteria: dynamic strength, explosive strength, time spent walking or running, stamina, and trunk strength.

When all five were considered, a career in dance had an “overall activeness score” of 75.2. Of the physical aspects examined, dancers’ top three rankings were for time spent walking or running and then a tie for stamina, dynamic strength and trunk strength.

But dancers didn’t take first place by a hair. They won by a landslide—wait, a grand jeté. The second place career, fitness trainers and aerobic instructors, had an overall activeness score of just 62. The gap of more than 13 points makes sense if you think about their schedules. Trainers and fitness teachers often work in shorter, more sporadic time chunks—a client in the morning, a class in the afternoon, etc.—as opposed to the daylong schedule of a dancer under contract with a professional company.

What other jobs made the list? Choreographers came in at #14 with an overall score of 52.8. They were lauded for the jobs’ use of trunk strength and stamina, but less so for the amount of walking and running it entails. That’s also a logical conclusion, since dancemakers are more apt to demonstrate certain movements or lifts but do less run throughs of their work than the actual dancers. Other notable careers on the list included athletes and sports competitors (#7), waiters and waitresses (tied for #20), and a slew of jobs involving construction and manual labor.

And to Business Insider, we say: Thanks for telling the rest of the world what we already knew.

Get more Dance Magazine.