How Much Do Ballet Dancers Make?
Ballet is a beautiful art performed by amazing dancers. Ballet dancers are well trained, and because of their unmatched skills, they are compensated fairly.
A ballet dancer makes anywhere between $14,500 and $256,500 in a year. This range represents the highest and lowest earners. Most ballet dancers' salaries fall between $14,500 and $36,500. The average salary is about $1,326 per week.
Many ballet dancers work their whole life to be a part of a prestigious company. Below, there is a breakdown of a ballet dancer's salary at each career stage and how to making money as a ballet dancer.
A Ballet Dancer's Salary
Ballet dancers are known for their hard work, dedication, and grit, but not necessarily their income. Many of the performing arts get a bad reputation for the low-income positions that employ many people within the industry. It takes a lot of time and experience to see your investment in training and practice pay off.
Salaries vary widely by region and company. If a ballet dancer is not a part of a company, their likelihood of getting paid drastically decreases.
Here are some fast facts about ballet dancers' salaries:
- Average yearly salary is $68,949
- Average yearly salary falls into the 75th percentile
- An average salary accounts for both the highest and lowest incomes
- About 35% of ballet dancers fall into the 25th percentile, roughly $30,000
- Only 17% of all ballet dancing positions are paid between $58,500 and $80,500
The major takeaways from these facts are that most ballet dancers make about $30,000. Do not expect to make more than $30,000 with your first dancing gig. Earning a higher, consistent wage can be difficult, especially if your performances are freelance.
Salary is dependent on multiple factors, such as:
- Skill level
- Location or region
- Dance company
(Source: Zip Recruiter)
Do Ballet Dancers Make A Livable Wage?
Ballet dancers that fall into the 25th percentile of salary ranges earn about $14 an hour, which is not a livable wage. In some regions of the country, averages are much higher, but if you take into account the cost of living in those regions, the increase is not substantial.
Below is a table showing ballet dancer salary averages from locations across the United States based on data from August 2020. The table goes on to highlight prestigious companies found in these regions as well.
The following charge details how salaries differ in various regions of the US:
Again, these salaries are an average of a large range of values. While there are many companies across the United States, as shown above, ballet has a strong presence in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Depending on a company's needs, you may find better luck internationally.
Other world-renowned ballet companies are:
- Ballet Black, England
- The Royal Ballet, England
- Bolshoi Ballet, Russia
- Cairo Opera Ballet Company, Egypt
- K-Ballet, Japan
- Tokyo Ballet, Japan
- Hong Kong Ballet, China
- Israel Ballet, Israel
(Source: World Ballets)
Within these regions, there are different types of ballet companies, such as:
- Musical theater
- Modern dance
- Chamber ballet
The type of company largely determines the dance style that is favored in performances. Within a company, there can be jazz, hip hop, ballet, and other ensembles. A company is not limited to ballet. However, many companies are famous for their ballet performances. For instance, the Moscow Ballet is widely known for their performance of The Nutcracker.
How to Become a Professional Ballet Dancer
Most ballet dancers start fairly young when they begin their training. Most people say it is necessary to begin at a very early age to make it as a dancer, but that is a misconception.
Here are the five steps to becoming a ballet dancer:
- Train, train, train.
- Pursue education and earn a degree in dance or fine arts.
- Practice, and practice some more.
- Perform freelance shows to build your reputation.
- Try out for a company of your choosing.
Both training and practice allow you to gain experience and skill, two highly desired traits for ballet dancers.
The companies and schools that hire ballet dancer look for the following traits:
- Highly skilled and talented – Whether raw talent or from extensive training, dancers without real talent don't get hired.
- Supportive and encouraging – Companies are another family, and you must be able to play nice.
- Commitment – Practicing for hours on one dance requires dedication.
- Artistry – Dance requires a creative and thoughtful mind.
A degree is useful after you retire from dancing, as well. Many dancers go on to be choreographers, so an understanding of dance and movement is helpful. Additionally, there is the option to teach, where again a college degree will be essential
Although a consistent paycheck comes with being hired by a company or school, many ballet dancers are self-employed. (Source: Labor Statistics)
Famous Ballet Dancers and Their Incomes
Some ballet dancers are considered outliers on the pay scales, and knowing a little more about their incomes and the companies they work for may be helpful. These outliers include famous ballet dancers making over six figures a year.
- First Black principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre
- Earns over $100,000 a year
- Started dancing at 13
(Source: Misty: Prima Ballerina)
- $30,000 per performance
- Prima ballerina
- Training originally in figure skating
- Studied at Moscow Choreographic Institute
- Principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet
- Highest paid female ballet dancer
- Estimates around $850,000 per year
- 48 years old
- Career skyrocketed in the 1980s
- French-trained, as well
- Started at 8 years old
- Danced for companies internationally
- Net worth is around $900,000
- Passed away in 1993
- Russian dancer
- Jack of all trades in performance art
- Estate valued at over $7 million
- Latvian dancer
- Began as a freelancer
- Joined New York City Ballet
- Transitioned to acting
- Estimated at over $45 million in combined earnings and worth
(Source: Richest Ballet Dancers)
These famous dancers earn much more than the average ballet dancer, but it an inspiring set of numbers to strive toward during your dancing career.
Ballet dancers are compensated quite well when they are a part of a premiere ballet company. Freelance ballet dancers make a decent wage, but it can be hard to get by depending on how steady the work is.
On average most ballet dancers make between $14,500 and $36,500 a year. A ballet dancer's salary increases if they work in multiple companies or have additional gigs. Major talents in ballet make, on average, six figures or more in a year.