Ballerina or Professional Ballet Dancer?

My favorite fairy tale Ballerina

When it comes to job titles, it can get a bit tricky with Dancers.

Every once in a while I will run into someone who introduces me as a Ballerina. I immediately correct them and say you mean, “Professional Ballet Dancer.” My natural instinct is to get offended. Why do I get offended, you ask? To put it bluntly, doesn’t the word “Ballerina” sound a bit juvenile? Let me explain.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Ballerina as a Woman who is a Ballet Dancer. The general public does not understand that Ballet Dancers can become professional like sports athletes. They also do not understand that Professional Ballet Dancers get paid. The word “Ballerina” is most often associated with a young Ballet student or the music box dancer with her hands touching the crown of her head like an ape. I don’t want to be thought of as that, do you?

In reality, Professional Ballet Dancers are not recognized for the true athleticism that they embody. Instead they are thought of as the fluff and fairy tales that we learned about in our childhood. (Let’s face it, this lifestyle is far from a fairy tale.)

This is something that isn’t going to change anytime soon, just an observation I made last week while visiting with family.

What are your thoughts?

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author

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About Nikol Klein

Nikol Klein is former Professional Ballet Dancer turned Women's fitness expert. She currently works with Women all over the world as a personal trainer and Ballet Strength coach to dancers.

Posted on December 27, 2009, in Life Management and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I agree. People think that we are little girls even after we are adults. Professional Ballet Dancer sounds a lot more legitimate and mature.
    By the way, love your blog!

  2. Good post!!

  3. I loved reading this post! I understand your frustration. I also have been thinking about this after returning home this week. My extended family has no idea what I do and doesn’t have any interest in finding out. Most days I feel like I have advocate and stick up for myself. You are right! Being a dancer and a dance teacher is absolutely not a “fairytale” lifestyle. We work hard, but love it! :) At least we can say that! xo

  4. Hi, this may sound bizarre, especially to someone like you, who probably started dancing at the youngest age possible, but I feel like I have finally realized what I want to do with my life! I would love to become a professional ballet dancer. I’m 18 currently.. ;/ I dreamed of it when I was younger, but I was unsure. Do you think it’s completely too late? What could I possibly do about this? I can give more details, if you’re interested. Could you please give me some insight? I would love if someone e-mailed me. Thanks :)

  5. I think that as professionals we know what we ‘are’, but to the general public; knowing ones exact title is unimportant. What they consider a Ballerina is someone in a lovely costume tutu dancing on her toes. It doesn’t mean that you get less ‘respect’ but I definitely would refer to an adult as a “Ballet Dancer”. So I understand lol.

  6. Nika-

    I think you definitely need to start training asap but you can do anything you put your mind to. If I could learn yoga at 25 (and hey it’s no where NEAR as athletically challenging as ballet—-)—you can at 18 learn ballet.

    • I hate to dispute this, but it is doubtful for anyone to begin training at 18 and become a professional. By this age your growth plates have formed and it will be harder to push your body for the turnout, flexibility,and lines necessary for ballet. But if you love ballet, I hope to be proven wrong.Good luck!

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