Prospective dancers and dance parents always want to know — how much does it cost to be a ballerina? or at the very least, to train like one.

When looking at the costs to be a ballerina, there are three main items you need to be aware of:

1. Classes, tuition, summer intensives and training
2. Ballet essentials and products
3. Self care and healthcare items

For many aspiring dancers, the costs of training and appropriate dance wear/ pointe shoes creates a serious barrier. FiveThirtyEight evaluated the costs of raising a ballerina and tallied a cost of $100,000 (at least) for raising a dancer who starts ballet at age 3, and trains for 15 years.

These costs for becoming a ballerina get broken down to an estimated $55,000 for training at a mid-tier school (over a 15 year time period), $32,000 for six summer intensive programs (although there will more likely be more), $30,000 for new pointe shoes every 3 months starting from 6th grade (although this number can actually be more), $15,000+ for tights, canvas shoes and other essentials.

The cost of becoming a ballerina explained

$53,000 for training at a mid-tier ballet school

cost of ballet classesThis uses a median cost at a mid-tier ballet school, and assumes the child attends from age 3 for 15 years.

$2,000 in ballet school fees

This is a rough estimate on the costs for registration forms and auditions. Dancers will need to regularly pay fees when it comes to auditions and registration.

$32,000 for summer intensives

Summer intensives are advanced training programs for ballet dancers that start after sixth grade (most of the time). These summer intensive programs are four to six weeks long and have a median tuition of $2,500 per summer, as well as an additional cost of approximately $3,000 for room and board. Yikes!

$30,000 for pointe shoes

Yup. You read that right. $30,000 just for pointe shoes. How does that cost get up so high? At an average price of $80 per pair, dancers go through pointe shoes at an exponential rate. They start running through them at about one pair every three months in 6th grade, by seventh it increases to one pair a month, and by ninth grade+ it increases to one pair each week or up to two pairs!

$15,000+ for tights and other ballet essentials

Dancers will run through several pairs of ballet tights on a monthly and yearly basis. On average, the dancers we polled needed 3 or more pairs of tights per month. That adds up to over 36 pairs of year, or $360+. When you start factoring in leotards and canvas shoes, the cost over 15 years quickly adds up to around $15,000!

$5,000+ Self care and healthcare

What does this mean? Well, stage makeup, makeup remover, bandages, moleskin, toe wraps, ouch pouches and more. Depending on the cost of the items you use for removing makeup and how often you need moleskin or toe wrap, you can spend over $5,000 in a 15 year period for just self care and general items. These numbers can increase significantly if you experience a serious injury and require medical attention, physical therapy, and more.

The costs of being a ballerina

Raising a ballerina can get expensive. Along with the above costs, you also need to take into account the time and cost of travel. Some ballet dancers commute over two hours per day to attend top tier ballet schools! The high costs and accessibility of great ballet training in low income communities has created quite a stir regarding diversity in ballet. While there are many costs that factor in to an excellent ballet education,  the current state of the arts and funding has limited opportunities for diversity in dance. Luckily, there are growing outreach programs looking to help subsidize the costs of education for families that want their children to pursue dance.

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