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How much does it cost to become a professional ballerina or dancer?

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When most people think of ballerinas, they think of the beautiful images of women in tights and tutus gracefully spinning and leaping across a stage. What you may not know is that becoming a professional ballerina takes years of hard work and dedication – and it can be quite costly, too.

Pre-professional dance training that most often leads to a professional career generally costs tens of thousands of dollars per year. Programs run by professional ballet companies are often the most cost-friendly, but places are fiercely competitive and only offered through audition.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the average costs associated with pursuing a career as a professional ballerina or dancer. Read on to learn more!

To read up on the costs of dance lessons in general take a read of our article How much do dance classes cost? We compare 50+ schools across the US! UPDATED 2022!

How do I become a professional ballerina or dancer?

In order to become a professional dancer, you need to dedicate yourself to your training and take classes every day.

You’ll need to have strong ballet technique, as well as good performance skills.

You should also be able to learn choreography quickly and be willing to travel for performances.

It’s also important to have a good work ethic and be able to take direction from your teachers and choreographers.

For an in-depth look at how to become a professional ballerina or dancer take a read of our articles How many years of dance or ballet does it take to be a professional? and What Percent of Dancers Become Professional?

What type of dance school should I go to, to become a professional dancer?

To become a professional ballerina or dancer, you need to study with a reputable dance school. In most cases, in a pre-professional training program where you are dancing more than 25 hours a week.

Some dancers are able to transition from the school they attended as a child into the professional world, but most often than not, professional dancers will have attended pre-professional intense training of some sort.

How much does pre-professional dance training cost?

The cost of training at a pre-professional dance or ballet school can vary greatly depending on whether the school is a subsidiary of a company meaning that the school’s income, training facilities, etc are supplemented by the company and any benefactors or whether the school has less company or public funding and relies solely on your tuition fees to keep the school going. 

When I trained at a pre-professional school, the fees were quite high as I chose to attend a privately owned studio where I studied all styles of dance six days a week. I worked several jobs to help pay for the tuition as unlike a college there was no financial aid or loans available. For more about the costs of college dance read our article How Much Does It Cost To Study Dance or Ballet At College?

It is incredibly hard to do a comparison of company school fees with those schools privately owned because the private schools only give out their fee structures upon inquiry and were not willing to allow us for this reason to report them to you here.

Therefore the following are some examples of the costs by some of the most elite schools around the world, where acceptance for entry is by audition only and extremely competitive.

The American Ballet Theatre School

The American Ballet Theatre Schools Pre-Professional division provides through audition part-time training six days a week for a total of around twenty hours at a cost of $7400 a year for 12-15-year-olds.

This increases as students graduate to the next level of training – Upper 2 is $8900 and Upper 3 is $9800.

These tuition costs are quite low in comparison to private schools, but it needs to be remembered that the ABT have access to a plethora of teachers and facilities owned in part by the parent company. Places are also coveted and limited.

The Royal Ballet School

A full-time course, with housing and full board, offered through audition from the age of 11 or 12 with The Royal Ballet School in the UK costs 34,609-pound sterling which equates to US $44 000 a year.

This price is similar to that of a US college or a private boarding school.

The school clearly states that financial assistance and scholarships are available as they believe no deserving student should be denied access to their program because of the cost.

Opera National De Paris Ballet School

The Opera National De Paris Ballet School offers half or full board, full-time ballet training for students from the age of 8. Entry is by rigorous audition selection processes that are initially determined by a child’s age, height and weight. The cost is 1154 Euros for half board for a year which is approximately $1240 US. It is 4200 Euros for full board for the year or around $4500 US.

The ballet schools costs are again low as it is part of the nations most prestige ballet company, and also receives financial support from the state.

Vaganova Ballet Academy

The Vaganova Ballet Academy in Russia offers a full-time program for Russian students fully funded by the state or government. Thousands audition with the ballet staff, but only 70 are accepted.

They write that out of these 70 approximately only 20 students, that is only 29% of their students make it to the final years of training and into the Bolshoi Ballet and other companies around the world.

They offer an international 10-month student training program (VITP), with full board from the age of 16 which costs US $17,500.

The Australian Ballet School

The Australian Ballet School offers full-time training for successful auditionees from the age of 13 who go into what the school calls level 4. Current fees for level 4 are not available.

From here students move into level 5 and 6 which are part of the schools diploma of dance (Elite Performance) program. Fees for each year ar $13,800 AUD (US $9888). A graduate diploma is also offered.

Full board is available at $21,000 (US $15,000).

Canada’s National Ballet School

Canada’s National Ballet School offers a comprehensive professional ballet program for students in grades 6-12.

Day students pay $20,346 CA per year and boarding students pay $38,206 per year.

They also offer a post-secondary program which costs $18,366 per year of $34,406 for boarding.