The overall goal of the dance industry is to communicate a message or idea through dance, or to provide instruction to children or adults who wish to learn to dance. Some dance students use the activity to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, while others wish to take part in competitions or improve their skills.

The dance industry can be divided into two primary sectors: professional and amateur. The professional dance industry is made up of dancers, choreographers, rehearsal or master dancers, costume and set designers, makeup artists, publicists, and others behind the scenes.

There are many types of professional dance companies, but the most widespread are ballet and modern dance companies. These companies typically perform during a set season, usually beginning in the fall and ending in the spring. During the off-season performers and others find work at resorts, cruise ships, and similar places. Dance companies are usually not self-supporting organizations. Often they are nonprofit organizations and depend on three types of funding to sustain them: ticket sales (usually representing about one-third of their income), private donations (usually representing up to 50 percent or more of their income), and grants and government support (can represent up to one-third of a company's income). Since private donations and grants are uncertain and unreliable, some companies struggle when the economy is slow and have to shorten their seasons or reduce staffing.

Amateur dance relies solely on the popularity of dance in the culture. It consists primarily of private dance schools that teach both children and adults how to dance. Some schools encourage their students to enter competitions and some eventually may become professional ballroom dancers. However, most students take dance lessons for fun or to improve their abilities for specific events such as weddings. Children at dance schools can also compete in dance competitions specific to ce...