A principal dancer, also known as a principal artist, is a dancer who performs the lead roles in a dance company’s productions. This term is commonly used in ballet, but it can also be applied to other disciplines; it is the highest rank a dancer can attain, and each company usually has several. Becoming a principal dancer necessitates years of dance training, which typically begins at a young age, as well as a great deal of talent. In addition to performances, professional dancers spend many hours each day in dance classes and rehearsals. Dance is extremely competitive, and making a living as a professional dancer is difficult.
In a dance company, there are several different levels or rankings of dancers. A principal dancer, also known as a prima ballerina, is the highest level, which is usually only attained after working one’s way up through the ranks. Most dancers begin their careers as members of the dance corps, or corps de ballet, and perform in all of the production’s group scenes. A soloist is the next level; these dancers get to perform in important roles, but not always as the central character. Finally, a select few may achieve the rank of principal dancer and perform leading roles on stage for extended periods of time.
To achieve the status of principal dancer, one must devote a great deal of time and effort. Since the dancer must begin training at a young age, determination and hard work are required. Dancers often begin taking classes as early as the age of three, and those with exceptional talent may attend several classes per week or even every day. It is usually recommended for young dancers to attend a dance studio that is affiliated with a dance company in order to become a professional dancer, as many companies tend to recruit heavily from their own schools. Once a professional dancer, he or she continues to spend hours each day in classes and rehearsals honing technique, as well as performing in the evenings, all while working their way up the company’s ranks.
It takes a lot of talent and dedication to become a professional dancer, and only the most talented and dedicated achieve principal dancer status. There is a lot of competition. Dance as a profession is associated with a high risk of injury and low pay. Because low pay makes it difficult to make ends meet, many dancers will take on additional jobs to supplement their income. Principal dancers typically earn more money than lower-ranking company members, especially if they become well-known; other benefits include having a job doing what they love, dancing in the most coveted roles.