Ballerina Salary Range - Beyond The Stage

María Kochetkova, former principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet

The salary range for ballerinas is a topic that evokes mixed feelings for me. On one hand, I understand the immense dedication and hard work that goes into becoming a professional ballet dancer. The countless hours of training, the physical demands, and the sacrifices made are undeniable. I believe that individuals who devote their lives to mastering the art of ballet deserve to be fairly compensated for their talent and commitment.

The average beginner ballet dancer will earn a meager salary between $20,000 to $60,000 a year. The highest-paid male ballet dancer is Mikhail Baryshnikov who was reported to be worth $45m and has earned $1,669,920 from various tasks including being an art director at American Ballet Theatre. Meanwhile, the highest-paid female ballet dancer is Nina Ananiashvili, and reported to be paid $30,000 per performance and has a net worth of around $2m.

Besides them, other ballerinas like Gillian Murphy and Polina Semionova have also been reported to be among the highest-paid ballet dancers in the world. Sylvie Guillem was also reported to earn over $850,000 per year at 48 years old. 

Aside from the celebrity factors, many factors determine a ballet dancer's rates: 

  1. Vast Salary Range: The salary range for ballerinas can vary significantly. At the lower end of the spectrum, entry-level ballerinas in smaller companies may earn an annual salary of around $20,000. On the other hand, top-tier principal dancers in renowned companies can earn salaries upwards of half a million dollars or more.

  2. Corps de Ballet Compensation: The corps de ballet, which consists of the ensemble dancers, typically earns lower salaries compared to soloists and principal dancers. In some cases, salaries for corps de ballet members can start around $20,000 to $460,000 per year.

  3. Principal Dancers' Earnings: Principal dancers, who often perform lead roles and are considered the highest-ranking dancers in a ballet company, have the potential to earn significantly higher salaries. Their annual earnings can range from approximately $50,000 to several hundred thousand dollars.

  4. Additional Income Sources: Many ballerinas supplement their income through additional work. This can include guest performances, teaching dance classes, choreographing, modeling, or appearing in commercials or other dance-related projects. These additional endeavors contribute to their overall earnings.

  5. Regional Disparities: The ballerina salary range can also vary depending on the geographic location. Salaries tend to be higher in major cultural centers and cities with prestigious ballet companies. For example, dancers working in renowned companies in cities like New York, London, or Moscow may have access to higher salaries compared to those in smaller regional companies.

The Journey Begins: Entry-Level Salaries

Starting in the corps de ballet, you will earn a meager salary between $20,000 to $60,000 a year. that barely covered rent and necessities. It will be a constant struggle to make ends meet, and some will often rely on the support of my family and friends to sustain their careers.

It can be challenging to make ends meet, especially in expensive cities where most renowned ballet companies are based. The reality of the ballerina salary range can be disheartening. Considering the years of training and the competitive nature of the industry, the entry-level salaries for ballerinas are often quite modest.

Many ballerinas supplement their income by teaching dance classes. Teaching provides an opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise while generating additional revenue. Some ballerinas choose to teach at dance schools or academies, while others offer private lessons or workshops. Teaching can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding endeavor that complements a dancer's performance career.

Rising through the Ranks: Soloists and Principal Dancers

As ballerinas gain experience and rise through the ranks, their salaries do increase to between $50,000 and few hundred thousand a year. However, even for principal dancers who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, the compensation may not always match the level of skill and artistry they bring to the stage.

San Francisco Ballet Association, which is a non-profit, shared their remuneration online and you can see their

  • Filing for 2018 that renowned principal dancers Tan Yuan Yuan and Maria Kochetkova were paid around $200,000
  • Filing for 2019 that principal dancers Tan Yuan Yuan and Frances Flaherty made around $200,000
  • Filing for 2020 that principal dancers Tan Yuan Yuan, Frances Flaherty, and Anne-Sophie Sylve were paid around $240,000

The amounts were not available for subsequent years and a quick check among some associations did not show the individual remuneration for principal dancers.

Principal dancers, the pinnacle of ballet achievement, carry the weight of leadership on their shoulders besides honing their technical expertise. They take center stage, embodying the most iconic roles and assuming a prominent role in shaping the artistic vision of a production. With their elevated status, principal dancers embrace a myriad of responsibilities.

The countless hours spent in the dance studio, honing their technique, pushing their body to its limits, and striving for perfection do not equate to a decent salary. The love for ballet is needed to propel dancers to make it a career, even during moments of exhaustion and self-doubt.

The prestige of the ballet company can have an impact on ballerinas' salaries. Renowned and internationally acclaimed companies often have larger budgets and greater resources, allowing them to offer higher salaries. Dancers in these prestigious companies may have the opportunity to earn more competitive compensation due to the company's reputation and financial standing. However, it's worth noting that salaries can still vary within companies based on factors like rank, experience, and negotiating power.

While some top-tier ballerinas earn substantial salaries, these elite positions are limited, and the vast majority of dancers do not reach such heights.

In the award-winning 10 Best Books of 2010 by the New York Times, "Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet", Jennifer Homans book explored the history and evolution of ballet from its origins to the present day. She also said in an interview about how ballet was preserved in the Cold Wars, despite the challenges: "But you know, there were people who loved the ballet and who believed that the culture could be transformed. And so it was preserved. And the classical ballets were preserved as well."  

Despite years of training and unwavering commitment, the reality of the ballerina salary range was disheartening given its unpredictability and luck involved.

Have you ever wondered what the average height and weight of a ballerina is? Do you believe that all ballerinas are thin and petite? Well, the truth is, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Ballet has long been associated with the image of a slim, graceful ballerina. However, the reality is that ballerina come in all shapes and sizes, and their height and weight can vary greatly depending on their training, genetics, and personal preferences. In the next article, we'll discuss the average height and weight of a ballerina.

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Author: Sky Hoon
Into Watching Tik Tok Dancing. He loved to watch creative Tik Tok Dancing that show a person's personality. Created this blog to learnt more about dancing.
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