How to Become a Ballerina

How to Become a Ballerina

If you’ve ever been captivated by the grace and beauty of ballet, you may have wondered what it takes to become a ballerina. Ballet is a demanding art form that requires a unique combination of talent, discipline, and hard work. While many people dream of becoming a professional dancer, only a select few are able to turn that dream into a reality.

Becoming a ballerina isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a long and challenging journey that begins at a young age for most aspiring dancers. Many professional ballerinas start training as early as five years old, whose passion and talent for dance are evident even at such a tender age.

During their formative years, aspiring ballerinas must dedicate countless hours to rigorous training, often sacrificing typical childhood activities in the process. They spend summers at intensive ballet schools, where they work tirelessly to perfect their technique and strengthen their bodies.

Starting a career in ballet isn’t easy. It takes persistence, high levels of discipline, and financial sacrifices. In many cases, aspiring ballerinas and their families must make difficult decisions to support their dream, even if it means raising the funds needed to cover the costs of training, pointe shoes, and associated expenses.

But for those who are willing to put in the work and make the sacrifices, a career in ballet can be incredibly rewarding. Ballerinas have the opportunity to perform in some of the world’s most prestigious ballets, to work with talented dancers and choreographers, and to be a part of the rich history and tradition of this beautiful art form.

Being a professional ballerina isn’t just about the salary, though. It’s about the passion and calling that can’t be quantified in financial terms. It’s about the sheer joy of movement and the satisfaction of knowing that you’re pursuing your dreams. It’s about the long hours spent in the studio, the tugging of muscles, and the determination to keep going even when it feels impossible.

Ballerinas come from diverse backgrounds, with varying levels of training and experience. Some may have started late in life, while others have been dancing since they could walk. Some may have studied ballet exclusively, while others have trained in multiple styles of dance. But no matter the path they took, all professional ballerinas share a deep love for the art form and a commitment to their craft.

In short, becoming a ballerina is a journey unlike any other. It requires dedication, talent, and a willingness to push through the challenges that come with pursuing a career in dance. If you have the passion and the drive, and if you’re willing to put in the hard work, becoming a ballerina is possible. Just remember: it’s not about the destination, but rather the steps you take along the way.

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Fulfill Your Passion for Dance

Becoming a professional ballerina requires a certain amount of dedication and persistence. While it may seem like a dream job, the reality is that it takes a lot of hard work and effort to make it to the top ranks of the ballet world.

One of the first steps in becoming a ballerina is to start ballet training at a young age. Many dancers begin their ballet journey as early as three or four years old, enrolling in ballet schools or academies to learn the foundation and technique of ballet. It’s important to note that although starting at a young age is typical, it’s never too late to start ballet as an adult.

The financial cost of pursuing a ballet career can vary. Ballet classes, costumes, and shoes can add up over time. Raising a ballet dancer does require a certain amount of financial commitment. Some ballet schools may offer scholarships or financial aid, but the cost can still be significant.

When it comes to the future outlook for ballet careers, the data shows that the job outlook for dancers is not as positive as some other professions. The amount of available positions is limited, and the competition is fierce. However, for those who have a true passion for ballet and are willing to put in the hard work, it is possible to make a successful career as a ballerina.

One of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a ballerina is about the salary. While some top-tier ballet dancers, such as Misty Copeland, can earn upwards of $100,000 or more per year, it is important to note that this is not the typical salary for most dancers. The majority of professional ballet dancers earn a modest income, and some dancers aren’t paid at all for certain ballets or performances.

Another important factor to consider is the physical demands of being a ballerina. Ballet requires a high level of strength, flexibility, and endurance. Dancers must also be willing to endure long hours of rehearsals and performances, often pushing their bodies to the limit. Taking care of your body, including proper nutrition and rest, is crucial in order to stay healthy and avoid injuries.

In addition to the physical demands, the mental and emotional aspect of being a ballerina should not be underestimated. The ballet world can be competitive and demanding, and it requires a certain level of mental toughness and resilience to navigate the challenges that come with it.

Although the road to becoming a ballerina may be long and challenging, for those who are passionate about dance and willing to put in the work, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding career. Ballet allows dancers to express themselves creatively, tell stories through movement, and bring joy to audiences.

  • Opportunity to express creativity through dance
  • Chance to perform on stage
  • Ability to inspire and bring joy to others
  • Potential to earn high salaries for top-tier dancers
  • Being part of a diverse and supportive community
  • Physical demands and potential for injuries
  • Long hours of rehearsals and performances
  • Competitive nature of the ballet world
  • Limited job opportunities and tough competition
  • Financial cost of pursuing a ballet career

Train at a Reputable Dance School

When it comes to becoming a ballerina, training at a reputable dance school is crucial. A good dance school will provide you with the necessary instruction, guidance, and opportunities to develop your skills and reach your full potential as a dancer.

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Choosing the right dance school can make a significant difference in your journey to becoming a ballerina. Look for schools that have a history of producing successful ballerinas and have a top-tier reputation in the dance community. DanceUSA is a great resource for finding accredited dance schools that meet these criteria.

What to Consider when Choosing a Dance School

There are a few important factors to consider when selecting a dance school:

  1. Cost and Financial Requirements: Dance training can be expensive, so it’s essential to consider the cost and financial requirements associated with attending a particular school. Some schools offer scholarships or financial aid for talented dancers who may need assistance in covering the expenses.
  2. Quality of Training: Look for schools that have experienced and knowledgeable dance instructors who can provide high-quality training in ballet techniques, pointe work, and other essential aspects of becoming a ballerina.
  3. Housing and Studio Facilities: If you’re planning to move to a different city or country for training, it’s important to consider housing and studio facilities offered by the dance school. Having a comfortable and supportive living environment can greatly contribute to your overall experience and success.
  4. Opportunities and Outcomes: Research the school’s track record in helping young dancers become professionals. Look into the career paths of their alumni and what kind of job outlook they have. This will give you an idea of the opportunities and outcomes that you can expect from attending the school.
  5. Summer Programs: Many reputable dance schools offer intensive summer programs, which can be a great way to further develop your skills and gain valuable experience. Consider schools that offer summer programs if you’re looking to maximize your training during the summer months.

Remember that becoming a ballerina takes time and persistence. Even the most talented dancers need years of dedicated training to make it to the top ranks. By starting your training at a reputable dance school, you are giving yourself the best possible foundation for a successful career as a ballerina.

Develop Strength and Technique

Developing strength and technique is crucial at every stage of your career as a ballerina. Ballets demands a high level of physical fitness and technical skill, so it’s important to focus on both aspects of your training.

Stage 1: Starting Early

If you dream of becoming a professional ballerina, it’s best to start training at a young age. Many professional dancers begin their journey when they are as young as five years old. Taking ballet classes at a reputable ballet school will provide you with a strong foundation in technique and help you develop the necessary strength.

During the summers, you may consider attending intensive ballet programs or workshops to further enhance your skills. These programs often offer housing options for out-of-town dancers, but keep in mind that they aren’t always paid opportunities.

Stage 2: Moving Up the Ranks

As you progress in your training, you’ll move up the ranks in your ballet school or academy. The ranking system differs in various schools, but typically, it involves passing specific exams or demonstrating mastery of certain ballet techniques. The higher your rank, the more challenging and prestigious roles you will have the opportunity to perform.

To move to the next tier, you will need to continue developing your strength, technique, and artistry. This may involve taking additional classes, participating in workshops or masterclasses with professionals, and getting feedback from experienced dancers and instructors.

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Stage 3: Becoming a Professional Ballerina

Once you’ve reached a certain level of proficiency and have completed your training, you can start auditioning for professional ballet companies. The requirements and qualifications may vary, but most companies look for dancers with strong technique, artistry, and stage presence.

When you join a professional ballet company, you will typically be paid a salary. The amount may vary depending on the company, your rank within the company, and other factors. Keep in mind that the financial cost of pursuing a career in ballet can be significant, and it’s important to consider the long-term financial aspects of this career path.

Some ballerinas choose to pursue a college degree in dance or a related field to broaden their knowledge and gain additional qualifications. Others may choose to work part-time or take on non-dance-related jobs to supplement their income.

The Journey of a Ballerina

Becoming a professional ballerina takes dedication, hard work, and a lot of sacrifice. It’s not an easy path, but for those who have a deep love and passion for ballet, the journey is worth it. Misty Copeland, one of the top ballerinas of our time, started her ballet training relatively late, at the age of 13, and still went on to achieve great success.

No matter how high you aim, it’s important to remember that every step counts. Every class you take, every performance you give, and every moment you spend working towards your dream is valuable. Stay focused, stay motivated, and keep working towards your goal of becoming a professional ballerina.

Remember, the path to success is different for everyone, and what works for one ballet dancer may not work for another. But with hard work, determination, and a love for the art form, you can make your dreams of becoming a ballerina a reality.


Is it necessary to start ballet at a young age in order to become a ballerina?

While starting ballet at a young age certainly has its advantages, it is not a requirement to become a ballerina. Many dancers start ballet in their teenage years or even as adults and still go on to have successful careers in ballet.

What are the physical requirements to become a ballerina?

To become a ballerina, you need to have a combination of strength, flexibility, and grace. Strong core muscles, flexible joints, and good turnout are important physical attributes for a ballerina. However, it is also important to remember that every dancer is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses.

How many hours of training does it take to become a professional ballerina?

Becoming a professional ballerina requires a significant amount of training. It is not uncommon for aspiring ballerinas to train for 20 or more hours per week. However, the exact amount of training required can vary depending on the individual’s natural abilities, dedication, and the goals they want to achieve in their ballet career.

What are some of the challenges faced by aspiring ballerinas?

Aspiring ballerinas face various challenges on their journey to becoming professionals. Some of the common challenges include intense physical demands, competition for roles and opportunities, the pressure to maintain a certain body image, and the need to balance their academic or work commitments with their dance training.

What is the importance of a formal ballet education?

A formal ballet education is important for aspiring ballerinas as it provides them with a strong technical foundation, exposure to different styles and techniques, performance opportunities, and guidance from experienced teachers. It also helps dancers develop discipline, perseverance, and a deeper understanding and appreciation for the art of ballet.

What are the basic requirements to become a ballerina?

The basic requirements to become a ballerina include having a passion for dance, dedication to train consistently, physical strength and flexibility, good coordination, and the ability to interpret music and tell a story through movement.

How many hours a day do ballerinas train?

Ballerinas typically train for several hours a day, usually ranging from 4 to 8 hours. The exact amount of time can vary depending on the dancer’s level, goals, and schedule. Professional ballerinas often have a rigorous training regimen that includes ballet technique classes, pointe work, variations, repertoire rehearsals, and conditioning exercises.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.