How much does a principal dancer at the royal ballet earn

How Much Money Does a Principal Ballet Dancer Make?

by Mariel Loveland

Published on 8 Nov 2018

A prima ballerina's salary can certainly exceed expectations, but passion is the driving force behind this creative career. Many of us dream of making a living from our creative callings, but principal dancers have transformed that dream into a reality. You've seen them on stages across the world – from esteemed, long-running companies like the New York Ballet to traveling troupes like Eugene Ballet. They've been featured in award-winning films like "Black Swan_,"_ which took home an Oscar, and "Save the Last Dance," which was a fan favorite among teen award shows.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dancers make a median hourly wage of $16.96 with the top 10 percent of dancers making around $30.95 per hour. Still, principal dancers can command much higher paydays such as $3,000-to-$5,000 per performance as guest stars with major companies. The top ballet dancers can pull in an upwards of $190,000 a year at the highest-paying ballet companies.

In reality, the life of a dancer is only a fraction as glamorous as the movies show. From jet-lagged performances and physically draining rehearsals to the cut-throat auditions and injuries, this career is as difficult as it is rewarding. So, how much do ballerinas make for their endlessly difficult work?

Job Description

Principal dancers, often referred to as prima ballerinas, are the highest-ranking dancer in every ballet company. These stars of the show may perform in stationary productions or in traveling troupes across the world. Though many principal dancers are committed to a single company for a whole season, which can be between 28-to-40 weeks including rehearsals. some principal dancers guest star in productions and command a high per-performance fee. On days dancers aren't performing, they typically take classes and have hours of back-to-back rehearsals with breaks for costume fittings. They also must budget time for physical therapy, an important part of a physically demanding industry with such a high injury rate.

 Education Requirements

Ballerinas have different ranks based on their experience and ability. This is one of the few careers where you don't advance with age. In 1990, the average age for ballerina retirement was 29, over 20 years younger than a decade prior. For this reason, ballerinas start training at a very young age. Their education comes mostly from classes and the experience of working their way up through the ranks of their companies before moving to more renowned productions. Some ballerinas study the craft in a college or conservatory atmosphere before joining a company.


Principal dancers work in ballet companies performing for audiences around the world. A ballet dancer's earnings vary greatly based on the company and their ranks within it. Salaries are higher on weeks where they perform in front of an audience versus weeks where they rehearse. Dancers in unions like the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) command much higher salaries at every level and overtime wages.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dancers make a median hourly wage of $16.96 with the top 10 percent of dancers making around $30.95 per hour. Still, principal dancers can command much higher paydays such as $3,000-to-$5,000 per performance as guest stars with major companies. The top ballet dancers can pull in an upwards of $190,000 a year at the highest-paying ballet companies.

 Years of Experience

Many ballerinas have been training for most of their lives to become a principal dancer, usually starting classes around the age of seven. Dance students can train between eight to 10 years before landing professional work.

Professionally, dancers start out as apprentices before moving to the lowest level of their company, the corps de ballet. There, they can be promoted to coryphées, where they may be given small solos. The next step is becoming a soloist, who often learns principal parts as an understudy should the principal have to miss a show. Principal dancers or senior principals are the highest-ranking in every company – the stars of the show. How much do ballerinas make throughout this process? It varies greatly but generally sticks to the following range:

  • Apprentice (New Dancer): $125 – $800 per week
  • Corps de Ballet dancer: $325 - $1,500 per week
  • Principal Dancer: $53,000 - $150,000+ a year for the top companies

Job Growth Trend

Though the entertainment industry is often volatile, the demand for dancers is expected to slowly grow. Between 2016 and 2026, employment of dancers is projected to grow by 4 percent. In addition, dancers who don't become principals may look towards choreography or teaching, where the median salary is slightly higher at $25.81 and $17.76 per hour, respectively. The median is the mid-point with half earning more, and half earning less.

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Ballet dancers | Money | The Guardian

Conflicts at the Royal Ballet have emerged in the past week over the lack of notice dancers say they are being given by the artistic director, Ross Stretton, about the roles they perform and the timing of performances.

This conflict shows that dancers need to be versatile as well as mastering great technical detail. There is far more to dancing than standing on pointes and executing a perfect arabesque. Dancers must also maintain excellent fitness, and imbue each performance with emotion.

Dancers have extensive training in classical ballet; the Royal Ballet School provides regular ballet tuition on top of standard academic work for students from the age of 11. Other schools have three-year courses for people from the age of 16. Performing arts colleges also offer tuition.

Most ballet dancers retire in their mid-thirties and move into teaching, choreography, artistic direction or the administrative side of dancing.


The entertainers' union Equity has agreements with each ballet company for how much different grades of dancer earn. Members of the corps de ballet at the Royal Ballet earn £22,000 a year in their second year at the company. This rises by £1,000 every year they stay. Soloists earn £32,500, with the first soloist getting £39,000.

Dancers who hop from company to company as guest artists negotiate their own fee for each production. As they are basically freelances, they often employ an agent to manage their work and an accountant to keep the books.


Dancers love what they do. Performing for an appreciative audience is a massive buzz, and when a production comes together it is very satisfying.

They work closely together, establishing a group bond that makes for a great working environment.

Touring companies such as the English National Ballet travel the country and sometimes abroad. Each company performs a few different productions each season, so there is little opportunity to get bored.


The concentration needed to perform can be draining. Dancing is exhausting, and even when performing in the evenings companies rehearse during the day.

Developing a new production or role is an intense process. People may have different ideas about how a role should be presented, creating potential conflict.

Great discipline is needed to train daily. Staying fit often requires exercise on top of the daily two-hour ballet classes and six-hour rehearsals of most companies.

Dancers are vulnerable to injuries, which can halt their work for long periods and even end careers.

The future

Ballet companies are trying to reach a wider audience. In 1990 what was the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet moved to Birmingham. Touring companies such as the Northern Ballet Theatre and English National Ballet tour cities across the UK.

The pieces performed are expanding from the purely classical to a wider range, with new types of choreography and sets.

My view: Kevin O'Hare

Kevin O'Hare is company manager of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, where he was principal dancer for 10 years until he retired in 2000. As a child he was in the film Bugsy Malone before attending the Royal Ballet School from 12. Now he liaises with both ballet and administrative staff, supporting the dancers.

"I loved getting into a character when I was dancing. It can be hard work on tour when you are performing in places with very few facilities, but it is great to open ballet up to a wider audience," O'Hare says.

"Ballet is not as elitist as it has been - it's much more accessible. We are trying to get people to see new work rather than only Swan Lake, and move the art form on."

How much do ballet soloists earn? –

Salaries for ballet soloists in the US range from $90,003 $16,640 to $68,64090,004 with an average salary of $29,120.50. The middle 29.120% of ballet soloists earn $75,68,640 while the top 29.120% earn $68,640.

How much should a ballerina weigh 5 7?

A girl who is 174 cm (5 ft 7 in) tall must weigh 49.8 kg ( 109.79 lb ). Allowed +/- 1 kilogram.

Accordingly, who is the highest paid dancer?

The salary we have listed is based on a variety of factors from productivity income, annual income and net worth.

  • Nina Ananiashvili - 30,000 dollars per performance. …
  • Sylvie Guillem - From $850,000 per year. …
  • Benjamin Millepied - $900,000 …
  • Rudolf Nureyev - $7. 9 million *…
  • Mikhail Baryshnikov - $45 million.

How much do prima ballerinas earn?

Expected lifetime earnings: $1,669,920.

While famous prima ballerinas like Nina Ananiashvili can make $ 30,000 in In one performance, your average non-prima ballet dancer (who is still not that ordinary) earns about the same hourly bet like a child who flips through hamburgers in the summer.

So how much do Alvin Ailey dancers earn?

Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Salary

Position Salary
Salary of professional dancers - 3 salaries indicated $40,871 / year
Marketing manager salary - reported 3 salary $65,489 / year
Marketing employee salary - reported 2 salary $55,788 / year
Junior staff - 2 employee reported $52,051 / year


Who is the tallest ballerina?

IMG Models signed Fabrice Calmels , the tallest ballet dancer according to Guinness World Records. Camels, the lead dancers of the Joffrey Ballet, are 6 feet 6 inches tall.

How much do prima ballerinas weigh?

Most ballerinas weigh 85 to 110 pounds (38.5 to 49.8 kg) . The weight of a dancer is important because they need to be agile on their feet. They must also perform difficult dance routines. In many performances, the ballerina is lifted by another performer.

How much does a ballerina weigh?

The average American ballerina is 5'2" to 5'8". Depending on height, weight should ideally be between 85 and 130 lbs. If we simply analyze these numbers, we would expect ballerina body mass indexes to be significantly less than the average BMI of women.

Who is the most famous prima ballerina?

Margot Fonteyn may be the world's most famous ballerina of all time; Babe Ruth from ballet. Born in May 1919 in England, Fonteyn began ballet at the age of four. She had a long career with the Royal Ballet and soon retired at the age of 42 until Rudolf Nureyev appeared on the stage.

How much do ballet instructors earn?

Ballet teacher salary

Annual salary Monthly payment
Best earnings $87,500 $7,291
75th percentile $75,000 $6,250
Medium $62,047 $5,170
25th percentile $47,500 $3.958

How much does a soloist make in NYCB?

Salary. The New York City Ballet's principal dancers' minimum wages are at their highest during the weeks when the artists perform in front of an audience. This is a minimum of $2,341 per week . For rehearsal weeks, the minimum rate has dropped to $1,980 per week, or 50 percent of individual contract salary, whichever is greater.

How much does Misty Copeland weigh?

As part of the Studio's troupe, she performed the Pas de Deux in Tchaikovsky's opera The Sleeping Beauty. Eight months after joining the company, she was offline for almost a year due to a stress fracture in her lower back. When Copeland joined the company, she weighed 108 pounds (49.0 kg) (she is 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m) tall).

Who did Rudolf Nureyev marry?
Rudolf Nureyev
Active years 1958-1992
Height 173 cm (5'8")
Partner(s) Eric Brun (1961–1986, Brun's death) Robert Tracy (1978–1993, Nureyev's death)

What is the Horton technique?

The Horton Dance Technique, now commonly known as the Horton Technique, has no style in itself. Technique emphasizes the integrity of the body, an anatomical approach to dance that incorporates the flexibility, strength, coordination, body and spatial awareness of to provide unrestricted dramatic freedom of expression.

How much are Alvin Ailey tickets?

Tickets start at $29

Public engagement is Ailey's heart, and the long-awaited return of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to their home stage is cause for rejoicing.

Are all Alvin Ailey dancers black?

In the early years of , all performers were African American , reflecting its founder's commitment to providing a place where black dancers can escape pervasive discrimination. However, in 1963 the troupe became racially integrated as Ailey protested against quotas and discrimination of any kind.

How tall is an average professional ballerina?

The average height of an American ballerina is 5'2" to 5'8" . Weight should ideally be between 85 and 130 pounds depending on height. If we simply analyze these numbers, we would expect ballerina body mass indexes to be significantly less than the average BMI of women.

Can tall girls be ballerinas?

The height requirements for dancers are indeed determined by the hiring ballet companies. The average height of most ballet companies for a woman is approximately 167 cm . However, in Europe, some companies require women to be no taller than the traditional 165 cm, while others have a minimum height of 173 cm.

Do ballerinas' feet deform?

Long-term damage to dancers' feet has been recognized for years and even became known as a condition called "ballet dancers' feet". Due to the constant load on the lower limbs; jumps and landings; twists, twists and tensions for unnatural body positions, ballet dancers' legs ...

How much should a 5'5" ballerina weigh?

This "look" is said to be able to create perfect ballet lines and expressive movements on stage. The average height of an American ballerina is between 5'2" and 5'8". Depending on height, weight should ideally be between 85 and 130 lbs.

Can a ballerina be fat?

Can fat people dance ballet? Yes . … I used to be quite heavy and still dance, and now being not so heavy but still dancing gave me some insight into the issue of being overweight and adult ballet.

What is the ideal ballet body?

Profile of a traditional, ideal ballet body: Long elegant limbs . Strong, flexible back . Straight legs , neither crouched nor crouched.

Why is Anna Pavlova important?

Was the leading dancer of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Russian Ballet of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova received the most recognition for creating the role of the Dying Swan. and with her own company became the first ballerina to tour the world, including performances in South America, India and Australia.

Who is the youngest prima ballerina?

Meet the nation's youngest professional ballerina: 16-year-old Marla Minadeo of Cleveland Ballet . Marla Minadeo, the youngest professional ballerina in the country, has a schedule that literally keeps her on her toes.

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“Without Grigorovich, the Bolshoi would have eaten me with giblets” | Article

On the stage of the Paris Opera, the premiere of the ballet blockbuster "Red and Black", created by the oldest choreographer - 89-year-old Pierre Lacotte, based on the novel by Stendhal, took place. The famous dancer Irek Mukhamedov took part in the production, who built a brilliant career in the USSR, and then in the West, and now serves in the main French theater. After the performance, Izvestia talked with the legendary artist.

“I look at the ballet from the side”

- What are your impressions of "Red and Black", where Pierre Lacotte is a choreographer, decorator and costume designer?

— I really like the choreography, in particular the parts of the lead dancers. There is a little feeling that the ballet is too long: after all, 3 hours and 15 minutes. But the novel is huge, and Pierre Lacotte wanted to tell as much as possible on stage. For the ballet, he chose the music of Jules Massenet (a selection of more than 100 hours. - Izvestia). To be a great choreographer on such a scale as Yuri Grigorovich, Kenneth Macmillan, John Neumeier, Jiri Kilian or Pierre Lacotte, one must not walk on the ground, but soar in the clouds, be a little crazy . The creation of such a performance requires not only tremendous energy, but also the full return of all mental strength.

- "Red and Black" - a typical drama ballet, which has always been loved in Russia. If you show it or place it with us, do you think it will be a success?

Without Grigorovich-1

Dancer Irek Mukhamedov


— Undoubtedly. Ballets such as "Red and Black" are no longer made, because there are almost no choreographers who grew up on similar productions and who are able to convey the drama in the language of dance. I think that this grand performance can be shown in Moscow or St. Petersburg , where they liked to stage The Sleeping Beauty for 100 hours (at the Mariinsky Theater this ballet ran for 3 hours and 55 minutes. - Izvestia). But not in Slovenia, where I worked at one time. There people at 10 pm already want to be at home.

- In the program "Red and Black" you are designated as maître de ballet. So you are a choreographer? What is your contribution to the production?

— At the Paris Opera, maître de ballet is not a choreographer, but a teacher-repetiteur. I helped the lead dancers understand the choreography, character and roles of the characters in "Red and Black" .

— By what fate, already having a brilliant career as a dancer and then a choreographer, did you end up at the Paris Opera?

- I still ask myself this question. Probably, this happened thanks to Aurelie (artistic director of the ballet company of the Paris Opera Aurelie Dupont. - Izvestia). At first, she invited me to rehearse Swan Lake, then to give lessons, and since 2019 I have been working with the troupe on an ongoing basis. Apparently, she called me because I have a slightly different view of ballet - a view from the outside . Therefore, I can help dancers reach their potential.

— In ballet you have gone through fire, water and copper pipes. Did the Parisian troupe surprise you in any way?

Without Grigorovich-4

Red and Black Ballet

Photo: Svetlana Loboff

I was struck by the abundance of talent. This is evident right in the classroom, when the guys are standing at the machine. One can only dream of preparing performances with them. I strive to create such an atmosphere that they enjoy our joint work. But every artist has his own ideas about how to do it. Either he believes the choreographers and teachers, or he believes only himself: it’s him to go on stage himself.

— Do you no longer have wanderlust?

— I was a nomad, I could have remained so. And I would have survived. But now I'm not young - and I'm glad that I found a permanent place. I hope that the Paris Opera will remain my home for a long time. Working with dancers is my profession, my life .

« Nureyev lived for art »

— Behind the scenes of the Paris Opera, the shadow of the great Rudolf Nureyev, who himself was the artistic director, still hovers. The étoiles nurtured by him proudly classify themselves as part of the “Nureyev generation”. Pierre Lacotte was one of his closest friends. Why does he continue to be remembered here with aspiration?

Most of the performances in our repertoire are still productions by Rudolf. His choreography is very difficult . Each part, movement, pas de deux or pirouette is a real challenge for any artist. But Nureyev helped many dancers and dancers make a career.

— When the “defector” Nureyev was about to go to the Soviet Union for the first time after his “escape”, he invited Izvestia to a rehearsal of The Sleeping Beauty. You and the etoile Isabelle Guerin were busy in the ballet. “Irek has an excellent technique, a noble style, and I think that he could become the star of the Paris Opera,” Nureyev then told Izvestia. What are your memories of Rudolf?

Without Grigorovich-3

Paris Opera Building

Photo: Global Look Press/Keystone Press Agency/Panoramic

- I was a real Soviet man who believed everything we were told about Rudolf : "The motherland taught him everything, but he betrayed her and ran away." I watched videos of his performances and understood perfectly what an extraordinary talent he was, but still propaganda put pressure on us. One day, having plucked up courage, I contacted him from Moscow and asked if he had any game for me. “Come to Sleeping Beauty,” he invited. Having met him, I realized that everything that was said about him in the USSR was 200% untrue. Nureyev lived for art ...

At that time the Paris Opera was on strike and our performance had to be cancelled. Then Rudolph immediately sent me to Vienna, where his "Sleeping Beauty" was on. Then he sent me to dance in his Don Quixote at the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

I also got the opportunity to perform with the Royal Ballet of Great Britain. When I decided to stay in London, I called Rudolph and asked him what he thought about it. He reassured me : “Wonderful, don’t worry, work!” and gave his agent's phone number.

“Perestroika and glasnost interfered”

— You were Yuri Grigorovich's favorite, you performed the main roles in his ballets Spartacus, Ivan the Terrible and others. Why did you decide to move abroad?

- Perestroika and glasnost interfered with the creative growth of the theater and mine personally. I was waiting for Grigorovich to start doing new performances. He started, but they didn’t let him in - they held rallies in the theater: this is not so, then not so ... But I decided to move to the West when I found out that Grigorovich was organizing a new theater, to which he did not invite me. I realized that after his departure, my career at the Bolshoi would end: without him, I would have simply been eaten with giblets there .

I saw that life does not add up. And my wife Masha (former soloist of the Bolshoi Theater Maria Kovbas. - Izvestia), who was then in a position, decided to leave. I didn't burn bridges. But in our theater they didn’t like it when they left it, and I left without asking permission. And here even in 2002, when I performed with the Royal Ballet of Great Britain on the stage of the Bolshoi, they looked at me a little askance. I never held a grudge against Grigorovich, but I have no contacts with him either .

— What was your creative destiny in the Royal Ballet of Great Britain? The local press called you "the greatest dancer-actor of our time. "

I was lucky that Kenneth Macmillan wanted to work with me, who staged many ballets especially for me. In it, I immediately found my choreographer. In addition, in London, I created my own company, Irek Mukhamedov and Company, with which I succeeded in some things, but not in others.

Without Grigorovich-5

Red and Black Ballet

Photo: Svetlana Loboff

— Sometimes a dancer is compared to a block of marble from which a masterpiece is carved. Who is the creator?

- Natural talent is the foundation. Based on it, the artist grows with the help of the choreographer. And we, teachers, help him. In general, I believe that ballet is the highest of the arts , and all other types of creativity are lower.

— What is special about French ballet?

The Paris Opera has its own style: the dancing here is much cleaner than in the Royal Ballet of Great Britain. Well, the Bolshoi Theater is emotional. His repertoire makes it possible to better reveal himself artistically and technically. True, when I watched "Ivan the Terrible" staged by Grigorovich in Paris, the dancers were a little constrained. But, since the ballet still went on the stage of the capital of France itself, Yuri Nikolayevich was pleased.

— Where is ballet most loved?

- Hard to say. I see that is loved in France, but, as in Russia, the local audience is more likely to go for the name, and not for this or that artist. On the contrary, in England they go for big names . Tickets there were sold out in one second if Sylvie Guillem or I were busy in the ballet. In the UK, there is an unwritten tradition: if the audience once fell in love with you, then this is for life.

“I feel like a foreigner everywhere”

— Rap, breakdance and hip-hop are beginning to appear even on the Parisian stage. Is classical ballet losing ground?

- I don't think so. I see that modern choreographers want to work with the classics. In addition, they need artists who know the technique of classical dance, so that the new choreography is up to par.

— From time to time, young people from the suburbs of the French capital, armed with their repertoire, arrange a dance floor right in front of the Paris Opera. Is this a vision for the future?

— Why not, if the theater allows you to use its steps? Everyone has the right to self-expression.

Is ballet a very violent art form?

Without Grigorovich-2

Irek Mukhamedov (right) and Yugo Marchand at the rehearsal of the ballet "Giselle"


— Merciless. The latest example of this is what happened at the premiere of "Red and Black" with the etoile Mathieu Gagno, who performed the main role - Julien Sorel. The ballet was staged for him, he prepared the role for two years, but at the very beginning of the performance he was injured. Apparently, he has something serious, otherwise he would not have left the stage. This is a real drama for a dancer. In ballet, a lot depends on luck, without which the artist - be he seven spans in his forehead - will not succeed .

— What is your next project at the Paris Opera?

I am responsible for Frederic Ashton's Rhapsody to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff for the one-act ballet program Russian Evenings, which also includes The Rite of Spring and The Afternoon of a Faun. Now we are rehearsing in full swing, the premiere is December 1, .

— Are you going to visit your historical homeland?

— My wife Masha's mother lives in Moscow, and my brother lives in Kazan. But the problem is that my wife and I have English passports, maybe French ones will appear, but there are no Russian ones, and there is no time to deal with visas . We are Russians with English documents and live in France. Funny! I now feel like a foreigner everywhere - even in London, where I lived for 15 years. I will feel like a foreign tourist in Paris as well, until I speak French fluently.

— Have your children followed in the footsteps of their parents-dancers?

— Parents in ballet families never want this, because they know how hard everything is. However, our daughter Sasha was the principal dancer in the Dutch National Ballet and is now a principal dancer in the San Francisco company. Son Maxim went the other way - he graduated from the school of photography , he wanted to shoot high fashion, but so far he has not found a job by profession and earns a living in a photo store.

Information from Izvestia

Irek Mukhamedov was born in Kazan in 1960. After graduating from the Moscow Choreographic School, he was accepted into the Moscow Classical Ballet Ensemble. Won the Grand Prix of the International Ballet Competition in Moscow.

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