How much are ballet dancers paid

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:

  • Experience
  • 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:



Average Salary

Companies in the Area


Indianapolis, IN


  • Cleveland Ballet
  • Cincinnati Ballet
  • Dayton Ballet

Chicago, IL


  • Joffrey Ballet
  • Chicago Ballet
  • Oklahoma Ballet

Minneapolis, MN


  • Minnesota Ballet
  • Milwaukee Ballet
  • Madison Ballet
  • James Sewell Ballet


New York, NY


  • American Ballet Theatre
  • Dance Theatre of Harlem
  • New York City Ballet
  • Ballet Hispánico

Boston, MA


  • Boston Ballet
  • New Jersey Ballet
  • Amherst Ballet Theatre Company

Washington, DC.


  • National Ballet of Washington, DC.
  • Charlotte Ballet
  • Carolina Ballet
  • The Washington Ballet


Seattle, WA


  • Paradosi Ballet Company
  • Pacific Northwest Ballet

Portland, OR


  • Oregon Ballet Theatre
  • Ballet Fantastique

San Francisco, CA


  • San Francisco Ballet
  • Nevada Ballet Theatre
  • Sacramento Ballet
  • Ballet San Jose
  • Bay Pointe Ballet


Dallas, TX


  • Texas Ballet Theater
  • Kansas City Ballet

Phoenix, AZ


  • Ballet Arizona
  • Ballet West
  • Colorado Ballet

Los Angeles, CA


  • Los Angeles Ballet
  • Anaheim Ballet




  • Atlanta Ballet
  • Atlanta Festival Ballet
  • Savannah Ballet Theatre 

New Orleans, LA


  • Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet
  • Alabama Ballet



  • Houston Ballet
  • Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theatre

(Source: Companies 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
  • Classical
  • Neoclassical
  • Chamber ballet
  • Non-profit

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:

  1. Train, train, train. 
  2. Pursue education and earn a degree in dance or fine arts. 
  3. Practice, and practice some more.
  4. Perform freelance shows to build your reputation.
  5. 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.

By Gilda N. Squire Gildasquire

Misty Copeland

  • First Black principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre 
  • Earns over $100,000 a year
  • Started dancing at 13

(Source: Misty: Prima Ballerina)

By Anastasiya Fedorenko

Nina Ananiashvili

  • $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

Sylvie Guillem

  • Highest paid female ballet dancer
  • Estimates around $850,000 per year
  • 48 years old
  • French-trained
  • Career skyrocketed in the 1980s
The Thomas Jerome Newton Project

Benjamin Millepied

  • French-trained, as well
  • Started at 8 years old
  • Danced for companies internationally
  • Net worth is around $900,000
Photograph: Peter Johns/The Guardian

Rudolf Nureyev

  • Passed away in 1993
  • Russian dancer
  • Jack of all trades in performance art
  • Estate valued at over $7 million
Keystone/ZUMA Press/age fotostock

Mikhail Baryshnikov

  • 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. 

Who are the 5 richest Ballet Dancers? – BLOG ABOUT BALLET AND DANCE

The 5 Richest Ballet Dancers in the world*

The world of ballet is full of dancers who dream of making a living from their passion for the art form. But in truth, professional ballet dancing is a cut-throat industry where less than perfection is rarely tolerated. The odds of actually “making it” in the ballet industry with a major dance company such as the New York City Ballet or the Bolshoi Ballet are very slim.

When a dancer first joins a company, they form part of a group called the Corps de Ballet. The industry is notoriously underpaid, with the majority of dancers working long hours for very little financial reward. Payscale cites the average ballet dancer’s salary as a tiny $15,080 – $26,419. Midlevel dancers, often soloists, could earn as much as $50,000-$58,000 a year.

There is no doubt that in order to become a rich ballet dancer, it takes hard work, and sometimes dancing for multiple companies at once. But to become one of the richest ballet dancers in the world, a certain amount of fame and hard work is also needed. Many of the wealthiest ballet dancers on our list have made their name and their wealth through branching out into choreography, producing, or even acting and modelling.

We’ve selected five of the richest dancers in the industry – and, compared to the five richest actors or singers, the salaries are diminutive. Ballet, one of the most highly-skilled performing professions, is also one of the least financially rewarding. The dedicated, talented dancers on our list got there through hard work, passion and – quite possibly – a financial struggle. The salaries we’ve cited are based on a variety of factors from per performance earnings, yearly earnings, and net worth.

5. Nina Ananiashvili – $30,000 per performance

Nina Ananiashvili is a Georgian ballerina and the current artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia. She recently hung up her ballet shoes after an illustrious career as a prima ballerina earning about $30,000 per performance. She originally trained not as a dancer as an ice skater. Because she was a sickly child, her parents encouraged her to take up figure skating in order to build her strength. Nina started ballet training to complement her skating, but eventually abandoned skating altogether and began training as a ballet dancer. Her career took off after studying at the Moscow Choreographic Institute where her talent captured the attention of her instructors. From this point on her career sky-rocketed, and Nina eventually made waves in the United States becoming a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre and later the Houston Ballet.

4. Sylvie Guillem – $850,000 + per year

Sylvie Guillem is the highest paid female ballet dancer in the world today, at 48 years old. She hasn’t slowed down in later years; continuing an enormously successful career, Sylvie is selling out theatres all over, and has been since the mid-80’s. Hailing from Paris, this French dancer is sought after in some of the most highly regarded dance companies and is guaranteed to bring in a lot of revenue for the companies that can afford her. Despite the fact that’s she much older than most of her contemporaries, Sylvie seems to defy the laws of gravity and physics in her performances, making her the highest paid female ballerina of the 20th century.

3. Benjamin Millepied – $900,000 net worth

Now a fixture in Hollywood, this French dancer was relatively unknown in the mainstream world until a few years ago but has long been a famous face in the ballet world. Born in France, Millepied started dancing at the age of 8 under the instruction of his mother, who is also a ballet dancer. He has danced for the City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, School of American Ballet and the Paris Opera, to name just a few. Millepied made the rare transition from ballet to Hollywood when he choreographed the dances for the psychological thriller, Black Swan – where he also played a small part in the movie. There Millepied met Natalie Portman, who was starring in the movie, with whom he became engaged in 2010. The couple recently welcomed their son into the world in 2011.

2. Rudolf Nureyev – $7.9 Million*

Rudolf Nureyev was one of the most celebrated ballet dancers and one of the most photographed men of the 20th century. When he passed away in 1993, it was on one of his private island – in stark contrast to the Russian dancer’s impoverished beginnings. Between choreographing, dancing, acting, and directing his net worth sky rocketed to the millions in a short amount of time, and he became highly sought after not only for his talents, but for his appearance. He became an instant sensation in the Soviet Union and reinvented the role of the male ballet dancer, who before were only there to support the female dancers.

*based on value of estate after his death

1. Mikhail Baryshnikov – $45 Million

Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov was born in Riga, Latvia – then Soviet Russia – and is regarded as one of the best ballet dancers of the 20th century. He started as a freelance dancer in Leningard and Canada, eventually joining the New York City Ballet. Since then, Baryshnikov has made a tremendous impact in the ballet world. Besides being a ballet dancer, his high profile saw him branch out and he became a highly respected choreographer. He eventually made waves in Hollywood as an actor, most notably as Carrie Bradshaw’s Russian lover, Aleksandr Petrovsky, in the HBO series, Sex and the City.

*Repost – Source: Article by Alex Matsuo,12.28.13, World Money on the

Photo on Top: Sylvie Guillem © Bill Cooper (

TODAY MISTY COPELAND is the most famous Prima Ballerina. Her Net Worth is about $ 500.000! Learn more….

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Artists of the Opera and Ballet Theater appealed to the President with a request to increase their salaries

Artists of the Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after Abay addressed Nursultan Nazarbayev with an open letter, in which they asked the President of Kazakhstan to help them with a salary increase. The ballet dancers, choir, and orchestra dancers put their signatures under the appeal - a total of 171 people.

"I have been working for the fourth year, there have been no improvements in terms of wages during this time. We receive from 40 to 100 thousand tenge. It is impossible to live on this salary, we have to earn extra money. Some of the artists earn extra money on toys, someone works as a taxi driver, someone as a security guard," said the ballet dancer of the Abai State Opera Theater named after Alibek Aspetov.

According to him, due to low salaries, artists are forced to leave the Abai State Opera Theater, one of the country's leading theaters, which turns 85 this year.

"The artists are leaving. My classmate went to Moscow, went through a casting there, started working in the troupe and stayed there. If you are a soloist of the first category, they pay 50-60 euros for each exit," said Alibek Aspetov.

Arystanbek Mukhamediuly took control of the request of the artists

In their appeal addressed to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the artists noted that the theater is experiencing a shortage of personnel also because young people do not want to get a job in the GATOB because of low salaries. The theater staff asked the head of state to influence this situation.

"We want to raise salaries at least twice to have enough for food and travel. And if children appear, how to live? I also do not have enough, I have a loan, I need to support my family. There are artists from the regions, they need rent housing. For example, if an artist pays 60 thousand tenge for renting an apartment, 20-25 thousand for a communal apartment, the salary ends there. The theater provides housing, but 10-15 people can be registered in one apartment," Alibek said Aspetov.

The press service of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan reported that in October they received a letter from the theater management with a request to consider the issue of raising the salaries of artists.

"The Ministry is working on the issue of raising wages for the employees of the GATOB. This takes a lot of time, since we have to request funds from the republican budget. Then this issue is resolved with the Ministries of Finance, Justice, and so on. The issue is under the control of the Minister of Culture and Sports ", - explained in the press service of the department.

Director and artistic director of the theater Askar Buribaev confirmed that he and the directors of nine other theaters applied to the ministry with proposals to increase the salaries of employees in October this year.

"We receive wages on the basis of Government Decree 11/93 of 2015, where there are calculations for the next year. Since then, our wages have never been raised. budget Now we are asking the Ministry of Culture and Sports to consider the possibility of returning this allowance," said the director of the GATOB.

The situation can be saved by the reorganization of the GATOB

Askar Buribaev noted that the reorganization of the GATOB into a joint-stock company, following the example of the Astana Opera, could improve the situation with wages.

"The second is the opportunity to reorganize the State Enterprise "Kazakh State Opera and Ballet Theater named after Abai" into the NAO - a non-profit joint-stock company following the example of the Astana Opera. They work with such a legal status, respectively, their salaries are higher than ours, times twice. We also want such a salary. My salary is 177,000 on hand. I also don’t have enough. It’s very hard. I work part-time at concerts, I earn extra money at production, director’s work,” admitted Askar Buribaev.

According to him, artists of the choir receive from 63,921 tenge to 137,423 tenge, an employee of the dressing room - from 46,189 tenge to 107,096 tenge, employees of the costume shop - from 71,257 tenge to 117,115 tenge.

"Our annual fund is 683 million tenge. We need to seriously raise it to a billion. This missing amount should be found by the Government and invested in the budget to finance the GATOB. But it is impossible for a single theater to raise salaries according to the law. It is necessary to raise the salaries of all cultural workers", the director stressed.

This season 13 ballet dancers quit the theater. But instead came 14.

"Migration has always been in ballet. There is a very high demand for ballet dancers. According to the documents, 13 ballet dancers left us this season. 14 artists came. There is no migration in the choir. Choir artists are not so in demand around the world. I can't do anything about it. The main thing is that they come here and work, I can't say: "Don't work as a taxi driver" - what's wrong with that? - said the head of the GATOB named after Abai.

According to him, foreign artists receive the same amount in the theater as Kazakh ones.

"The salary is really small, I understand the artists and do not interfere. We have two dancers from Japan working in our ballet troupe. They receive the same salary as our Kazakh artists. The salary is small, but people come to us for creativity. There is no such that scatter, leave. I have not yet met a single artist in the world who would be satisfied with his salary. There is always not enough of it, "the director of the theater emphasized.

Theater employees are forced to work as taxi drivers and security guards

From the stage for the "steering wheel": how theater actors survive in real life in Almaty

From the stage for the "steering wheel": how theater actors survive in real life in Almaty

Because of the meager salary, the artists are forced to earn extra money as waiters and watchmen. 170 people signed the appeal to the head of state. 08.11.2018, Sputnik Kazakhstan







Sputnik Kazakhstan

media@sputniknews. com


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

"We have small salaries here - from 40 to 100 thousand ($107-267). Someone is here during the day, and in the evening as a security guard or a taxi driver earns extra money. I live in a rented apartment, I pay 60 thousand ($160) for it, together with utilities comes out 80 thousand ($214), where can I get money for food? How can I live on such a salary?" - says ballet dancer Alibek Aspetov.

© Sputnik / Timur BatyrshinAlibek Aspetov, the ballet dancer of the Abai State Opera Theater

Alibek Aspetov, the ballet dancer of the Abai State Opera Theater

© Sputnik / Timur Batyrshin

In the same team

The leadership of the Abay GATOB is in the same situation. The theater director, for example, also has a low salary - 177,000 tenge ($473). Askar Buribayev, at a meeting with journalists, assured that he had applied for a salary increase to the Ministry of Culture and Sports and was personally at the reception of Arystanbek Mukhamediuly. "In 2015, the allowance for artists of academic theaters was abolished, until that time the difference was paid to us from the state budget. Since that time, the salary of artists has not increased for us," Askar Buribaev noted.

The actor from the film "Tomiris" asked for help

According to him, the best way out of the situation could be the reorganization of the theater from the Republican State Enterprise) into a non-profit joint-stock company in order to attract sponsors.

By the way, the theater has sponsors. Thanks to their funding, an expensive floor covering was installed in the theater, which helps ballet dancers stay healthy.

According to the speaker, the annual salary of all theater employees is 683 million tenge. "In order to raise salaries by 50%, the wage fund must grow to a billion. This missing amount must be found for the 2019 budgetyears to finance the GATOB. In other words, it is simply unrealistic to raise wages overnight," said Buribaev. salary of employees: for example, artists of the choir receive from 63 thousand to 137 thousand tenge ($168-$366), employees of the dressing room - from 46 thousand to 107 thousand tenge ($123-$286), employees of the costume shop - from 71 thousand to 117 thousand tenge ($190-$313).

Migration of artists

This year 13 ballet dancers left the theater, but 14 people came to replace them. "Migration in ballet has always been, because ballet dancers are always in great demand. I can say that choir artists in the world are not so in demand," Buribaev said.

It is worth noting that the theater employs two actresses from Tokyo, who receive the same salary as their Kazakh counterparts. "The creative potential of our theater is very high, we have a very strong staff of teachers, and that is probably why people come to us from abroad. Those who want to grow come to us and work," said the head of the ballet group Gulzhan Tutkibayeva.

© Sputnik / Timur Batyrshin Abay

Gulzhan Tutkibayeva, head of the ballet group of the GATOB named after.

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