“Roughly how much does a professional ballerina get paid? And do some have another job as well as dancing?”
Thank you to Textbooks and Tutus friend Lucia for this great question! It is actually quite tricky to answer these, as so many different variables have to be taken into account!
Most young dancer’s have dreams of becoming a professional ballerina or ballerino and when first starting out we don’t really have those dreams and aspirations with our main aim or end goal being to become a millionaire. We dance because we love to dance, we dance because we love the thrill of performance and encompassing different characters of different ballets. Some of us even dance because we love the challenges and the sense of achievement we feel after completing four acts of Swan Lake. All of this is all well and good, but we also have to earn a living!
When I was younger I had no idea I could earn a living from doing what I loved to do and actually turn my dream of being a professional ballerina into paid employment! I had all but decided I was going to be a lawyer! I was so thrilled to learn that I certainly could turn my passion into a career.
In regards to how much a dancer is paid you will find that every company has different pay rates and a different system when it comes to the pay levels of individual dancers. Pay will also depend on the company’s employment period for the dancers and how long the company issues contracts for. For example 52 weeks full-time contract, 48 weeks full time contract, 9 month contract, 6 months part-time employment, just to name a few. I know many dancers overseas that are contracted for part of a year, not the entire 52 weeks of a year. The dancers that found themselves in that situation did have to find other employment during those “off contract” periods. However, it is possible to gain full time employment with a ballet company that issues 52+ week contracts. In these particular situations you will find most of the dancers dance for a full day, do not have time for other employment and receive enough income to live, therefore no other employment is necessary.
I find I am asked (more often than not) what my “real job” is.
My answer is always “This is, in fact, my real job”
A sometimes stunned response from people is “So you dance all day? No other job?”
Me: “Yes. I dance full-time. Just like an office job 9am-5pm, I dance 10am-6pm every day. I do not have any more time in my day to work another job, let alone the energy! This is my full-time, paid employment.”
So YES, you can be a full-time ballerina AND earn a living from doing what you love to do!