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What Wage Can a Dancer to Expect?


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5 minutes ago, InWayOverMyHead said:

Just curious, what number of total hours per week would be required of a Ballet Austin II dancer?  Does that even work out to minimum wage?

Don't know.  That's not really the conversation here. . . at least not IMO.  

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That figure for the Ballet Austin 2 dancers, who are considered company apprentices, is right in line with other apprentice level salary rates my daughter has shared with me at other regional companies. 


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Yes, in Texas, that wage is more than minimum wage, as long as the dancers are dancing fewer than 50 hours per week. 

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Thanks.  It's the economist in me that asks.  I also wonder about things like health insurance (though most can still be on a parents policy until 26 I think?). Sadly we have a dancer in the company at my daughter's school with a recent cancer diagnosis.  I also wonder about regional differences where COL is so much higher, SF, NY, Boston...

I read upthread about the patrons paying $$$ for tickets assuming that the dancers are paid a living wage.  I'm one of those.  Now I know.

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Cost of living matters.  In the last three years, in 4 different cities, my dancer has paid drastically different rents to live within walking distance of the studio.  So, he took into account cost of living in accepting his current position.

I also think that patrons do not realize how little some of the dancers on stage are making.  Most ballets are non-profits, so the money is not necessarily going into one person's pockets.  However, there can be gross imbalances in where the money is spent and exploitation of bridge level dancers even at companies that have a decent income.  I think this even happens in AGMA companies, because the second companies are not covered by the contract.  There are second companies at relatively established professional companies that do not offer any compensation at all.  Austin appears to be an exception.  To offer yet another pay model, there is one AGMA company that pays minimum wage for performance and rehearsal time when second company members are cast in company shows.   I will ask a parent of a dancer there to join this conversation. My dancer was able to tell me the going rate at several second companies when he was doing research last summer, but I didn't take notes.  I'll have to see what he remembers when I talk to him next.


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Many entry level jobs pay $10/hr. A forty hour work week would be $400 before payroll deductions. Working 50 weeks in a year would be $20,000/yr. So paying an entry level dancer around $400/week seems in line with other low paying work. Although I do realize most companies only pay 28-32 weeks of work.

As a small business owner my lowest paid employee is a part-time office person at $12/hr. My instructors are paid by experience and length of employment anywhere between $20-$35/hr.  I don't have a reason to have any full time employees so none make a living off what I offer. This is the major reason I started my own school - to make a decent living. I struggled for about 10 years but since then have been able to support a family of five.

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Here is an actual salary shared with permission of the dance parent, who read this thread first:

Apprentice at mid-level US company.  Not AGMA.  $270/week after taxes.  41 week contract.  Benefits are generous.


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My 21 year old son is an apprentice with a medium-size AGMA company. 

When he was a Studio Company dancer at Washington Ballet a couple years ago, he was paid a set stipend of $250 week (no benefits included).  As a Studio Company at Colorado Ballet, he was paid minimum wage for the hours he was called into rehearsals and performances (minimum wage is $11; his weekly pay was about $150-$290 depending on how he was currently cast).  

His salary now as a company Apprentice is around $530/week for 34 weeks plus good insurance benefits.  At his company, salaries range from $530 to $1300 a week.  But, that's just straight salary.  Many dancers also have seniority pay (where your pay rate goes up depending on how many years you've been with the company), plus there's over-time pay, hazard pay (for dangerous moves), and holiday bonuses.  

It's also good to remember that most dancers do much more than just dance their required weeks.  Many teach throughout the summer and even in the evenings, and those teaching hours can bring up your annual income up quite a bit. 

The older (late 20s, early 30s) ballet dancers that my son knows seem to do fine with 2 income families.  They're certainly not well off, but they have cars and homes and enjoy life and overall seem to do alright.     


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Thanks, Slhogan,

It's interesting that two AGMA companies have such different ways of compensating the second companies.  I know second companies aren't under the union contract, of course, but there seem to be so many different types. 

At my ds's past residential training program (attached to a big AGMA company), housing was part of the second company compensation, if I remember correctly.  Edited to add that I just got details from another parent, and the compensation two years ago was 1/2 off housing (worth about $425/month) and $400 per month stipend. 

Another ballet parent just told me about another AGMA company that compensates the second company with free housing.  I guess the lesson is that job seekers should not assume that second company compensation is standardized.

Sorry to be posting so much, but, given the age and level of my kid, I know a lot of parents whose dancers just found employment in the last few years.

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Post away, mln!   Your knowledge borne of experience of your dancer at this stage of the journey is invaluable. :clapping:

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I've compiled a few of the salaries parents and dancers shared with me.  I also added the two above where the companies were named.  I'll edit this as I find more or as parents send corrections.  These are all different companies.  They are all full-sized companies with annual budgets above 4 million per year.  So, they are all among the top 35 largest companies in the US.

Mid-sized AGMA company in midwest.  $500/wk apprentice.

Small but full-sized non-AGMA company in southwest.  $300/wk apprentice per week. 30 week contract.

Small but full-sized non-AGMA company in south/midwest.  $650/wk for corps.  $950/mo for appr. (8 mos).

Mid-sized non-AGMA company in south/southwest.  $300/wk apprentice per week plus generous benefits.  41 week contract.

Very large AGMA company in south/southwest. $400/wk per month for second company plus approximately $450 for housing per month.

Austin II: $365/week.  See Learningdance above.

Washington Studio company in 2018.  $250/wk & no benefits.  See slhogan above.

Colorado (AGMA) apprentice: $530/wk plus generous benefits.  34 weeks.  See slhogan above.

Colorado Studio Company.  minimum wage for pro performance and rehearsals.  See slhogan above.

Mid-sized AGMA company in the southeast.  $350/wk starting salary for apprentice.  $250 per week for second company.   

Mid-sized, established AGMA company in the east.  $875/wk for corps; $400/wk for apprentice.  Info from my dancer.

Mid-sized AGMA company in the west.  $600 starting corps and $350/wk apprentice.  Info from my dancer.


Summer choreography/contemporary company projects that hire dancers for a few weeks in the summer:

Two week stint as dancer hired to work with choreographers and perform new pieces:  $500-1000, depending on casting.

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On 2/2/2020 at 1:27 PM, learningdance said:

DD was at Ballet Austin's audition yesterday and they told the dancers

Ballet Austin II makes $365/week. 

Bravo for transparency and ethics!  

My daughter attended the Ballet Austin SI last year (will be again) and we were very impressed with the professionalism and ethics that we saw from the company there.  They held a talk for all the students (which should be done at all programs) where they realistically laid out the chances of making it as a professional along with other jobs in the industry and other ways to keep dance in your life if you choose to not dance professionally.  Too many teachers have a "you can do it" attitude that lasts too long allowing young adults to sit in a holding pattern of unpaid or underpaid position when they should be moving on, and if they were in another industry they would have because they don't have unpaid full time jobs in orchestras or broadway shows.  Either you get the position or you don't (and you can wait tables full time while you audition to pay the bills).

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  • 2 weeks later...

The reality in this thread is very hard to read, but it is a necessary conversation to have.  Thank you for the information you provided and especially to mln for compiling all that info in one post!   

I have now read quite a bit on the internet about pay for ballet dancers but nothing as clear and precise as what you all have provided here.  Thank you so much for sharing. 

Today, at this exact moment, my daughter is in a contract meeting to see where she stands with her current company for next year.  I hope she will be invited  into the second company but I fear she will not be asked back.  Second company pay is per performance. If she gets second company it will be the first time she has ever been paid to dance.  It’s a step towards living independent from her parents. I knew I would be curious, but my rare, but current, inability to focus at work, is direct evidence of how much this meeting’s outcome means to me. I know it means even more to her. 

I hope as time goes on we can keep this thread going. All parents of dancers should be aware of this information.  They band their dancers need to go in with eyes wide open. Fully aware of what life as a dancer entails. 

For my daughter, the thought of living on so little is not a deterrent. She would not change a thing about where she is or what she is doing with her life.  But, for many, even some of my 3 other children, living on so little, is completely out of the question.  

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Motherhem, I am praying for you and your daughter. This process is a training ground for holding things loosely, isn't it? I hope you are able to report back how it goes. 💜

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