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What is the average pay grade for a professional dancer?

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I want to be a professional dancer but am concerned about the low pay #dance

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Tracy’s Answer

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Then don't be a professional dancer. You don't go into dance for the money. Is there anything else you can do? If the answer is 'no. i don't want to live if I can't dance" then be a dancer. You can make a living as a dancer, but you will have to budget well. Plan on having a survival job unless you book a professional company contract. Even then, if you have time (you won't), you might want to have a supplemental job. Look on Twitter yesterday at Alvin Ailey dancers. They're rallying to get fair wages because the Ailey company directors are paying them less than standard wages. This is Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, one of the premeire dance companies in the world. The dancers of Ailey can dance anywhere they want, but they choose the Ailey Company because of what it means to them as dancers. Honestly, I know some dancers that would actually pay to be in Ailey.


You can make a living as a dancer, and if you're someone like Mia Michaels you can become a commercial success and demand some high salaries, but these are the exceptions. If you can sing and act, you can compete to be a principal in Equity (stage theatre actor's union) productions and make upwards of $1000/week.


There is no 'average' pay grade for a professional dancer, but look on You Tube. there are a few Ballerinas with ABT and NYCB that have informational videos about every aspect of being a real life ballerina.


If you are interested in commercial video dance, those do not pay well at all, and often dancers do them for free for the footage. If you are good enough to get an agent and can book a National Commercial as a dancer (rare, how often do you see dancers in commercials?), if it airs repeatedly you can make a great deal of money.


If you really, really can't live without dancing, don't worry about how much it will pay. Work as hard as you can at becoming the best dancer you can be. Read biographies of dancers. Go see as much dance as you can.


I'll say it again; you can make a living as a dancer, but you will have to be good at saving and living on less until you are established. If you are very talented, ambitious or well trained you could book jobs early in your career and make a very decent living.


But you don't become a dancer for the money. You become a dancer because you can't not dance.

Tracy recommends the following next steps:

  • Understand the costs of things and what options you will have as far as apartment, roommate, boarding house etc.
  • google dance companies and what they pay. Look at Backstage.com (you'll have to subscribe) at the audition notices. They tell how much jobs pay
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