Top 5 Richest Ballet Dancers in the World: Professional ballet dancers are trying to live from their passion for the art form, and this is so important because what’s more wonderful than earning money from your passion?

The world of ballet is filled with dancers who dream of turning their passion into a profession. However, the industry is notoriously cut-throat, where talent is scrutinized rigorously, and anything less than perfection is seldom accepted. The chances of making it into prestigious companies like the New York City Ballet or the Bolshoi Ballet are slim. Yet, smaller companies worldwide strive to support their dancers. Given the physical and mental demands of ballet training, serious dancers must be employed on a full-time salary. Investing in dancers can be profitable for a company, as a strong reputation can lead to significant ticket sales.

When a dancer first joins a company, they are part of the Corps de Ballet, typically performing as ensemble dancers in the background. If they are part of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), they have some protection, including a livable minimum wage. The industry, like many in the arts, is known for its low pay, with most dancers working long hours for little financial reward. Payscale reports that the average ballet dancer’s salary ranges from $15,080 to $26,419. Mid-level dancers, often soloists, can earn between $50,000 and $58,000 annually. In contrast, principal dancers might earn a few thousand dollars per performance.

Becoming a wealthy ballet dancer requires immense hard work and sometimes dancing for multiple companies. Achieving fame is also a key factor. Many of the wealthiest ballet dancers have expanded their careers into choreography, producing, acting, and modeling. Here are five of the richest dancers in the industry, whose earnings are modest compared to top actors or singers. Ballet, despite being one of the most highly skilled performing professions, is among the least financially rewarding. The dancers on this list achieved their status through dedication, talent, and possibly financial struggle. The salaries mentioned consider per performance earnings, yearly earnings, and net worth.

5. Nina Ananiashvili – $30,000 per performance

Nina Ananiashvili, a Georgian ballerina, is the current artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia. She recently retired from performing after a distinguished career as a prima ballerina, earning about $30,000 per performance. Initially trained as a figure skater to build her strength due to childhood illnesses, she transitioned to ballet and excelled. After studying at the Moscow Choreographic Institute, her talent led to a successful career, including becoming a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre and the Houston Ballet.

4. Sylvie Guillem – $850,000+ per year

Sylvie Guillem, at 48, remains the highest-paid female ballet dancer globally. She has been selling out theaters since the mid-1980s and continues to perform at a high level. This French dancer from Paris is highly sought after by esteemed dance companies and significantly boosts their revenue. Despite her age, Sylvie’s performances continue to captivate audiences, making her the highest-paid female ballerina of the 20th century.

3. Benjamin Millepied – $900,000 net worth

Benjamin Millepied, now a fixture in Hollywood, was relatively unknown in mainstream circles until recently. Born in France, he began dancing at age 8 under his mother’s instruction. He has danced with the City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, and the Paris Opera. Millepied transitioned from ballet to Hollywood, choreographing and performing in the film Black Swan, where he met his now-wife Natalie Portman. They welcomed their son in 2011.

2. Rudolf Nureyev – $7.9 Million*

Rudolf Nureyev was one of the most celebrated ballet dancers and one of the most photographed men of the 20th century. He passed away in 1993 on one of his private islands, a stark contrast to his humble beginnings in Russia. Nureyev’s net worth soared to millions through his work as a dancer, choreographer, actor, and director. He became a sensation in the Soviet Union and redefined the role of the male ballet dancer

*based on the value of his estate after his death

1. Mikhail Baryshnikov – $45 Million

Mikhail Baryshnikov, born in Riga, Latvia (then Soviet Russia), is regarded as one of the best ballet dancers of the 20th century. He started as a freelance dancer in Leningrad and Canada before joining the New York City Ballet. Baryshnikov has had a tremendous impact on ballet and expanded his career into choreography and acting. He is well-known for his role as Aleksandr Petrovsky in HBO’s Sex and the City.