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Find out how to become a professional ballet dancer. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in ballet.
Professional ballet dancing is a demanding career that requires exceptional coordination, agility and many years of training. The most successful ballet dancers may enjoy a long career performing ballet for stage productions, instructing students and choreographing dance routines. Ballet dancing is often physically demanding. Intense competition may exist for positions in dance companies or productions.
|Degree Level||No formal education is required, though some dancers choose to earn bachelor's degrees|
|Degree Field||Dance or ballet|
|Experience||Training often begins during childhood, sometimes as early as 5 years old|
|Key Skills||Excellent balance, flexibility, agility and physical stamina; creativity, persistence and strong teamwork|
|Salary||$14.31 is the median hourly wage for dancers (2014)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Young people interested in ballet may join preparatory dance classes at a dance school or studio. According to the BLS, children typically begin ballet training between the ages of 5 and 8 years old to learn basic dance techniques. Training allows new dancers to develop flexibility, strength and mobility. After gaining general dance experience, aspiring ballet dancers can begin more concentrated study of ballet. Older, more experienced students can go on to learn intermediate ballet techniques, such as pointe.
Individuals may benefit from a bachelor's degree program in ballet or dance. Though it is not required for professional dancers, a bachelor's degree can open up additional career options. Ballet degree programs typically cover subjects such as dance history, ballet techniques and choreography. Auditions may be required, and programs often include studio and performance requirements.
According to the BLS, many dancers no longer perform once they reach their 40s. Professional ballet dancers can pursue a second career, however, either in the field of dance or an unrelated field, after they've retired. Retired dancers who've earned a college degree in the field can teach ballet or work as choreographers for a dance studio. According to the BLS, professional choreography is expected to have a much higher rate of job growth than professional dance between 2012 and 2022.