Ballet Dancing

Dancers who dream of working in a professional ballet may perfect their techniques while getting a college education. Find out what you'd learn and what skills you'd develop in an undergraduate or graduate degree program related to ballet dancing. Get career info for several positions in this field, such as dancer or choreographer.

Is Ballet Dancing for Me?

Career Overview

Ballet dancing requires physical strength, stamina and talent. While earning a college degree in ballet dancing is not required, you may choose to enroll in such a program to improve your career prospects. Dancing is physically challenging, and the training required to become a professional dancer is intense and carries a risk of injury. Rehearsals and training takes place during the day, while performances are usually during the evening. In addition, many dance companies tour during the year, which may require you to spend time on the road.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that many ballet dancers begin their training at a young age (www.bls.gov). The typical training day for serious dancers requires at least eight hours of physical conditioning with warm ups and cool downs before and after each rehearsal or ballet class. If you wish to major in ballet dancing, you can apply to one of the 75 institutions accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).

Required Skills

You need to be devoted to this art and able to endure the years of intense training required in this competitive field. Ballet dancers are disciplined and are able to persevere. You must also be talented, graceful, flexible and agile. Working with an ensemble of other dancers and creatives, such as choreographers, musicians and directors, is also required.

Specializations and Career Options

You may also learn other types of dance, such as modern or jazz. Once you become a professional ballet dancer, you may work in ballet companies or musical theaters. You could also become a dance teacher, artistic director or choreographer.

Employment Information

According the BLS, in May 2013, dancers in general earned a median hourly wage of $14.87, while choreographers earned a median hourly wage of $21.22. From 2012-2022, the BLS projected much faster than average employment growth of 24% for choreographers and a slower than average increase of 6% for dancers.

How Can I Become a Ballet Dancer?

Education

According to the NASD, many colleges require an audition before they accept you into a ballet program (www.nasd.arts-accredit.org). Once accepted, you may take classes in ballet, dance history and choreography. You can earn a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Ballet. A BFA program typically focuses more on choreography, somatic studies, ballet history, stagecraft and dance ensemble. There may also be general academic course requirements, such as in English, the social sciences and history. Dance technique workshops and rehearsals are usually involved in preparation for performances during the course of these 4-year programs.

If you wish to further your education, you may earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance. These programs tend to a have a specific focus, such as choreography or performance. In addition to dance training, scholarly work is also required on ballet history and research. A thesis is usually required in order to graduate.

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