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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Company life: Salary


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Right as rain, Renata! :)


And also, the AGMA contracts don't spell out the "underwritten" parts of a dancer's income, which can come from patron individuals or corporations. It does, I admit, look a bit odd in a program to see, "Letitia Sublimova's work with Ballet Stupendo is underwritten by Mr. & Mrs. Lyman Z. Herpelsnonk", but if it gets dancers more $$$, I tend to be in favor of it.

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Top dancers make many times what everyone else makes. $150K salary does not sound extreme to me. I've heard that sums of around $10K per performance are not uncommon. These arrangements fall outside of the union contracts. In the end, it's whatever you can negotiate. If bringing in a star will help market a show, then simple math on the part of the managers makes their price worth every penny.


The disparity here is common in these kinds of fields. Top rock musicians make millions, whereas most of the rest are struggling to pay their expenses. Top baseball players make millions, while minor league players (the majority of professional players) make maybe $800-900/wk. Top actors make millions in Hollywood, whereas most of them are just paid a normal salary. Books have been written about the phenomenon as well, about how people who are a little bit better at a skill than everyone else end up as stars who make many times as much in the marketplace.


I'm told that dancers at Houston Ballet commonly own their own home --- combination of well-funded dance company and low cost of living. Portland, OR seems to have homeowner-dancers as well.

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Hey everyone!

Renata- No, haha, I do not dance for money. It's just a natural question I have and a slight worry as well. I would eveuntually like to have my own house, and not depend on my parents, all the while doing the thing that I, and everyone on BalletTalk loves best.


and citibob-Thanks for the information! I forgot about those individual performances that other places can have you guest artist as. Hopefully I'll make it to be that good! :]


Thanks everyone! (if there is any more information out there, post!)

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citibob- Completely :) but $800-$900 a week for minor league players is wishful thinking for most unless they're on the 40-man roster or have been playing for several years. Average ballplayer plays minor leagues for up to six years making that much near the end of their playing career unless they make it to the big leagues. Makes dancers salaries not seem all that bad, huh?!!!


Edited to say they are only paid during their season which in the minor leagues runs March to beginning to mid- September...

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  • 1 year later...

I am allowed to say that I have worked for several small, unranked companies, 10-20 dancers, in what TV would call small to midsize markets and contracts range from $200-$550 a week for dancers in the actual company (ie not apprentices).

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Steven, you are perfectly allowed from this end to tell us. :D (Now if the missus bounces the alarm clock off your bean for discussing family income, that's a different source of approval! :lol: ) You've shown some good skills in building a career ladder, and your experience is a valuable input to this discussion.

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And Ed's another good case in point. Just look at that sig line! It's an orderly progression up the career ladder, and doesn't even include the guest bookings and one-time appearances, even for free (which can be good networking tactics!)

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I will confirm the salary range that dancersteven listed. But, I will note that it is about the same for many small companies that are 'ranked' as being in the top 50 (based on annual budget) as well as those lesser known, 'non-ranked' companies to which dancersteven referred. Our experience has been that region of the country plays a part in the salaries too and so some that are 'un-ranked' do have higher salaries than some that are ranked, which are in less expensive regions.

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Good to know, balletbooster, good to know. Just for the sake of clarity, when I said 'unranked', I meant that the companies didn't have offical rankings of their dancers (corps, soloist, principal, ect.), whereas I think that you were referring to the sizeof the company's budget. I really don't even know how big the budget of my company is, much less how that compares to other places! Perhaps I am happier not knowing?? :wink:

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I know firsthand of two fairly well-known (but small-to-midsize "unranked" companies) that pay the $250-$400 a week range for company members. One has a small apprentice program (unpaid, but shoes for performances, and comp classes even during the off-season included). One has no apprentice program. Both companies employ dancers of a professional quality and have high production standards.

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  • 1 month later...

According to the website of lil' ol' Madison Ballet in Wisconsin ( Beautiful ballet, but not a 'big name'...)



Madison Ballet is hiring a company of 16 dancers for its 2007-2008 season on a limited contractual basis. Contracts will be for up to 9 weeks and feature competitive wages ($400-1100/week). Corps, soloist, and principal contracts are available. "

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