A male dancer is called a Danseur or a Principal Dancer if they are ranked highly in a professional company.
When not on stage, dancers take daily ballet technique classes and rehearse for upcoming or current programs. A typical day of work for a dancer starts early with an hour and half class to warm up and refine their technique. Class is followed by four to six hours of rehearsals, sometimes followed by an evening performance. Dancers also get 1-2 days off a week where they are found doing normal activities just like you and me (grocery shopping, laundry, a stroll through the park, stuck in Atlanta traffic or capturing a movie or two).
Dancers eat just about anything. They do not all survive on carrot sticks and celery. Dancers must eat a good balanced diet that provides plenty of oomph in order to maintain the level of energy needed to exert their bodies during demanding physical rehearsals and performances. And yes, you may occasionally see a dancer in line at Jake's for a double dip chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cone.
Pointe shoes are made of layers of fabric and glue covered with satin. Pointe shoes do not have a heel like normal street shoes but have a sole which is made of hard leather. Dancers sew satin ribbons and elastics around the ankle to keep the shoes on securely. The price of pointe shoes varies between $50.00 and $80.00 depending on the make and style of the shoe. Many professional dancers have shoes custom made to their feet, which costs quite a bit more than a standard pair of pointe shoes.
The life of the pointe shoe depends on the dancer's individual feet and what they are dancing at the time the shoe is worn. Most ballerinas go through a pair of pointe shoes in one performance; sometimes more.
Training to become a professional dancer takes between 8-10 years. Students begin at about age 7. Beginning ballet usually consists of 1-2 ballet technique classes a week. As the student gets older, around 14, they are heavily involved in about 10-15 classes a week made up of ballet technique, pointe (for women), jazz, modern, partnering, and more. Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education offers a nationally accredited program of classes that prepares students of all ages for a future in dance or just to have fun.
A dancer's career can usually last until his/her early to late 30s, sometimes a few years more. The length of a dancer's career is very similar to any other professional athlete, depending on the dancer's individual body and avoidance of injuries. After retiring from the stage, dancers can continue a career as a ballet mistress or master, choreographer, or instructor, or choose a different career altogether. Many dancers today are getting degrees through universities with programs that are tailored around a dancer's vigorous schedule.
In This Section