The Salary & Job Qualifications of a Classical Ballet Dancer

by T. Marice Huggins

From the outside looking in, most classical ballet dancers are seen as graceful beauties who kiss the stage with talented feet as they execute intricate choreography. However, what most people don't see is the discipline, rigorous training and perfect technique a dancer must display in order to be employed as a classical ballet dancer. In fact, classical ballet dancers may be the hardest-working people in the entertainment industry. Dancers strive to fulfill the physical and educational requirements to obtain their dream dancing jobs.

Training and Education

Most professional classical ballet dancers began their training at an early age. Training typically starts between the ages of 5 and 8. Because job qualifications require creativity and physical stamina, classical ballet dancers spend a lot of time taking other classes besides ballet to round out their experience. By the time a dancer is a teenager, she is likely preparing to dance in pre-professional ballet companies. Some classical ballet dance companies offer summer training programs in which they select dancers for their full-time training programs. Though there are many schools offering bachelor's and master's degree programs, they are not essential for a classical ballet dancing career.

Physical Requirements

Physical requirements of a classical ballet dancer are determined by each dance company. However, most height requirements among professional companies are 5 feet 6 inches. Many classical ballet dancers are known to be slender, with low body fat percentage, a long neck and long legs. They should also have aesthetically pleasing feet. If a ballet dancer is exceptionally talented, though, he won't always be dismissed if his body type doesn't align perfectly with the requirements set by the company.


The median hourly wage for all dancers in 2012 was $19.02, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2012 job guide from Dance Magazine shows that many ballet dancers get paid between $200 and $800 per week. Notable ballet companies such as New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theater may pay more. Also, membership in unions or associations may assist classical ballet dancers in receiving fair pay and additional benefits.

Job Description

Classical ballet dance careers are rarely described as a 9 to 5 job. In fact, dancers dedicate long hours throughout the week and on holidays to training and performances. However, ballet dancers do much more than just perform; they also spend a lot of time doing research to get into character for a performance. Classical ballet dancers may also be required to help with choreography, travel to venues, promote performances and pose for photo shoots.

About the Author

T. Marice Huggins has been published several times in both the New York and New Jersey editions of "Contemporary Bride Magazine." She has also been published in national publications such as "Redbook," Dance Magazine" and "Caribbean Travel and Life." Thanks to extensive dance training in college, she is very well-versed in the areas of health and fitness.

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