Skills needed in the Performing Arts Industry

Those who wish to pursue a career in the performing arts need to display certain skills and talents. Without these skills and talents, an actor, dancer or musician may fail to progress in the industry. Here are some of the skills that a performer should possess if they are hoping to make it in the world of performing arts:

Performance Skills (Acting, Dancing, Singing)

Anyone who is hoping to progress in the performing arts industry must be skilled in their chosen discipline. Without the required skills, they will not even be given the opportunity to audition. The industry is very competitive, so those who fail to make the grade will not get far.

Some performers specialise in one single discipline, whereas other performers are multi-skilled. Candidates who have been to stage school will often be able to show off a wide range of different performance skills. Candidates who have not been professionally trained may need to be more selective about the roles that they apply for.


Performing in front of other people requires a lot of confidence. Although it is natural for performers to be nervous before they go out in front of a crowd, a performer should be able to use their nerves to better their performance.


Performers must be able to market themselves properly if they wish to get roles in future productions. Most performers will be forced to market themselves regularly if they attend auditions to try to secure work. Being good at self-publicity involves understanding strengths without overselling oneself.

Resilience and Ability to Withstand Criticism

All performers will experience rejection at some point during their career, because it is impossible for one performer to be right for every single part that they audition for. Most performers will also experience some criticism about their performances at some stage. The performing arts are often subjective, so it is unlikely that any performance will appeal to every viewer. Rather than withdrawing, a performer must be able to use criticism and rejection to help them to improve on their performance.


Great performers are self-reflective. They are able to look at each of their performances and use the information that they gather to help them to improve themselves. Being self-reflective allows actors to draw on their own performances without developing negative or overly critical feelings about themselves.


Performers should be able to learn new pieces quickly and then be able to perform those pieces without the need for additional cues. Some performers are required to learn new scenes or performance pieces within a few hours. A playwright or director may also want to change the way that a scene works, so the performer may be forced to completely relearn different material.


A performer will need to take on a variety of different roles over the course of their career. Being flexible will allow them to move between roles easily. This means that they should be able to play the role of a criminal in one performance and then play a hero in their next role. Dance performers may need to be flexible enough for perform dances from a wide range of different genres.


Performers may be required to work long hours for lowish pay. In the run up to the opening night or the first performance of a new piece, those who are involved may have to work non-stop. Because there are often set deadlines with performances, those who are involved are required to keep working until everything is ready. Many performers are also required to work additional jobs outside of the performance sphere.

A lot of actors, dancers and singers in Britain also do shift work such as waitressing or working in retail. They may be required to finish their day job shift and then go straight on to the performance space.


There are a lot of different people involved in creating a successful performance; therefore anybody who is involved in producing a performance is required to have strong teamwork skills. Listening and communicating well with others will help the performance to come together properly. Understanding instructions and being able to carry them out as requested can help performers to meet their brief.


A performer should be able to analyse the source material that they are given, so that they can understand the key ideas and themes of the piece. Understanding the key ideas and themes of a piece will allow a performer to improve their interpretation of the piece and enhance their performance.


Performers must be creative if they wish to set themselves apart from others who are involved in the industry. In addition to being able to create entirely new material, a performer should be able to reimagine and reinterpret existing work. For example, an actor may be able to gain attention for himself or herself by performing a different interpretation of a Shakespearean character.


Performers should be open-minded about the subject matter that they are being asked to perform. However, they should also understand that there may be criticism from some parties if the subject of the performance is controversial. Some performances may involve experimental techniques or be largely conceptual rather than following standard narrative patterns. Performers may need to think about challenging their own boundaries to produce the perfect piece of art. On the other hand, each individual must know where to draw the line and be able to say no if they believe that requests are not suitable.

Time Management and Organisation Skills

A performer should have strong time management and organisational skills. Many performers are actually required to work on more than one project at a time, so they need to be able to keep track of their schedule. It is essential for a performer to arrive at their performance space in good time or else it could hold up the entire performance. Good organisational skills will help a performer to make sure that they are adequately prepared for each different project.