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How Much Do Broadway Dancers Get Paid?
There are at least three different types of dancers that can roughly be called Broadway dancers: those who dance in major Broadway shows, those who dance in shows off-Broadway, and those who dance in the road productions of Broadway shows. Dancers are not particularly highly paid no matter where they work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listed 2008 average hourly pay for dancers in professional dance companies at a range from just over $15.00 to a little over $27.00 an hour.
Union agreements cover some professional dancers, specifying minimum salary rates, hours of work, benefits, and other conditions of employment. These rates can be negotiated up by dancers who are in demand.The American Guild of Musical Artists, Inc. of the AFL-CIO is the union that covers dancers that perform for opera and ballet companies and modern dance troops. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists covers dancers who perform live or on recorded television programs, and dancers in movies belong to the Screen Actors Guild. Actors' Equity Association is the union that covers most musical theater and Broadway productions that employ union dancers.
New York Magazine, in an October 2011 article, listed seasoned dancers in New York as making approximately $1,500 a week, and said that top performers guest starring with professional dance companies made as much as $3,000 to $5,000 a performance. While this may seem like a reasonable wage, it should be noted that the work is physically strenuous, mentally stressful, and not reliable. It is not unusual for a Broadway show to close after only a few performances, leaving its performers out of a job for the season. That is why most dancers teach dance or work in other fields.
While the dancers in the Broadway productions get all the glory, the dancers in the road companies make out better in pay. The most important difference is that they receive a per diem for travel, housing, and expenses on top of the union scale, and they don't usually maintain apartments in New York. Other than that, their pay is comparable to their on-Broadway counterparts.
The famed Rockettes enjoy one of the most stable dancing careers in the business. Their wages are comparable to those for Broadway dancers at approximately $135 per performance, but they perform several times a day during peak season, and receive overtime for the third, fourth and fifth performances in a day, plus year-round health benefits. For a professional dancer, being a Rockette is one of the best gigs available.
Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.