Sharon Wehner together the black color swan in Swan Lake. Photo by David Andrews.

You are watching: How many hours a week do professional ballet dancers train

by Sharon Wehner

As a expert ballet dancer, I regularly get inquiries from non-dancers about what a occupational day/week/month watch like. This is usually followed by a watch of surprise as soon as I to speak that ns dance 6-9 hours a day, 5-6 days per week, an typical of 45 main a year. B35 of those weeks are as a member of the Colorado Ballet. The rather involve guesting and contract work. The 8 main of “off-time” room scattered throughout the year, and also spent taking class and also cross-training.

So what go a usual day watch like? the all depends on the week. Throughout my season with Colorado Ballet, there room two basic time periods: Rehearsal and Performance. Rehearsal weeks consist that a 4-6 week duration of learning and also rehearsing repertory. Performance weeks indicate both rehearsals and performances, including stage, tech, and dress rehearsals in the theatre, and “maintenance” rehearsals in ~ the studio.

Rehearsal Period

During a rehearsal week, we begin every day v an hour and also 15 minute firm Class. As a dancer who additionally teaches, I’m always amazed at exactly how much the ballet mistress/master deserve to squeeze into 75 minutes v 50 dancers in the room! Barre is generally only about 30 minutes, however we still get in every necessary component: plies, number of tendus and also dégagé combinations, ronde de jambe, fondue, frappe, adagio, and grande battement. Center combinations vary relying on the teachers, however we alway carry out a center tendu, adagio, pirouettes, small jumps, assemble, petit allegro, sisones, grande allegro, and sometimes a coda combination. One teacher manages come squeeze in additional center fondues, grande battement, and also an assemble run combination.

As one can see, agency class needs to run choose a super efficient well-oiled machine. Over there is small time for correction or separation, personal, instance attention. Yet even several of that go happen. Experts are intended to pick up combine quickly, transition from one group to the next seamlessly, and apply correction without interrupting the circulation of class. There is likewise an etiquette among professionals which enables the course to churn along. Every company has their own distinctive unspoken rules about barre space, mirror space, groupings, and also “territory”. I always smile when I check out the brand-new “kids” trying to navigate this rules as soon as they an initial enter the company. Luckily, many dancers are fairly intuitive, and masters at analysis body language. Ideally, the less-than-aware dancers are taken aside and also given a tiny guidance. But, ns have likewise witnessed a senior principle chew out a young oblivious pup, and also it can be quite the spectacle.

Class is adhered to by a fifteen minute break. Three hrs of rehearsal monitor this, climate a one hour having lunch break, and also another three hours of rehearsals. Depending upon the person and also the productions gift rehearsed, a dancer might only have one hour that rehearsal, yet could simply as easily have six hours. Generally, we rehearse an ext than one ballet at a time. We may be prepare the most instant production (Swan Lake, for example), as well as learning repertory for later on in the season, and also working top top the creation of new choreography for one more season, all at the very same time. As we obtain closer to production week, rehearsals are increasingly distilled under to emphasis only top top the most prompt production.

Performance Period

Tech week requires a mix of technical, orchestra, and also dress rehearsals twice a job in the theatre leading up to Opening Night. Our company usually performs a college student matinee the morning before opening night. In the past few years, this performance has actually been live-cast locally and also internationally to institutions in ten different countries. Thus, also though that is technically thought about a dress rehearsal, the college student matinee is actually treated favor a live show. Dancers and orchestra room expected to lug on in the confront of mistakes and mis-cues.

The complying with weeks consists a mix of rehearsals in ~ the studio during the day and also performances in the evening. Throughout a power day, our rehearsal time is restricted to 3 hours, through a minimum of two hour break before being referred to as to the theatre. We constantly have official class before rehearsal, and then space responsible because that warming ourselves back up in ~ the theatre prior to the show.

After a run of performances, we go back to a rehearsal period schedule, and also the cycle starts all over again. Sometimes there will certainly be a week or 2 layoff in between. This is usually a welcome recovery time because that both the body and the psychic (not so much the financial institution account, however that’s one more story).

Off Season

Once the season winds down, usually in April for my company, we go into into a 4 month lay-off period. This time is used differently amongst various dancers. Many, favor myself, pick-up contract “gigs” one of two people performing or teaching, which often requires being free to travel. Because that example, I have been to Japan around 10 times, working v choreographers and performing together a guest artist. Ns have additionally worked with assorted pick-up companies. This requires a pretty major commitment of daily rehearsals and also performances, lot like the job-related I do throughout the season through Colorado Ballet. I have additionally utilized the time to take college courses. Various other dancers favor to pick up non-dancing work, such as waiting tables or nanny-ing. It’s constantly a tricky thing—balancing rest and work and play during a lay-off. By the end of the rigorous season, the body and also spirit room usually craving time top top the beach eating copious quantities of ice cream cream. Periodically this is possible, however not generally my style. The closest point was last spring, when, after a very daunting year personally and professionally, i did a yoga teacher-training in Costa Rica. Also though the schedule was packed—a 200 hour cultivate in 21 days—being immersed in nature and learning a brand-new skill steeped in wisdom teachings, was very nourishing for me.

In state of staying in shape and cross-training, this also looks in different way for every dancer. Part dancers grow on doing “normal-people” stuff—hiking, swimming, going come the gym. Ns admit, ns love a an excellent non-dance cardio workout v a collection of headphones and a good pod cast. At the same time, i strongly believe that over there is nothing like doing ballet course if you really want to it is in in dancer-shape. Yet, age and experience has also taught me that many bodies need some type of constructive rest, in which much more body-friendly practice is necessary. Yoga, pilates, and also Gyrotonics are my go-to sources of air conditioning in this arena. And also then, every once in a while, ns let myself completely veg out on the beach with a great book and an iced latte.

So, that’s it in a nutshell—the various deals with of being a expert ballerina in a mid-sized company with a 35-week season. In ~ least, in my world…

What’s coming up for Colorado Ballet? keep track of their performance schedule here.

Colorado Ballet’s Sharon Wehner. Photograph by Allen Birnbach

Contributing writer Sharon Wehner is initially from san Jose, California. She trained through Jody White and David Roxander, mountain Jose dance Theatre, san Francisco Ballet and also San Jose/Cleveland Ballet. Ms. Wehner join Colorado Ballet in 1995 and also was supported to primary in 1999, and also in the last 20 years, has performed many lead functions with the Company. These encompass Kitri in Don Quixote, Giselle in Giselle, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Medora in Le Corsaire, Aurora in The sleeping Beauty, Swanilda in Coppelia, Mina in Dracula, Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, the Cowgirl in Rodeo, the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Cinderella in Cinderella, Esmerelda in The Hunchback the Notre Dame, Titania and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, second Violin in Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, the Principal couple in Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Rubies, and also Theme and also Variations, Antony Tudor’s Leaves are Fading, and also Twyla Tharp’s In The top Room. She has actually been honored to have actually solos and also pas de deuxs developed on her by choreographers Val Caniparoli, Edwaard Liang, Mathew Neenan, Christopher Wheeldon, Darrel grand Moultrie, Dwight Rhoden, Jessica Lang, Brian Reeder and Toru Shimazaki.

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In enhancement to Colorado Ballet, Ms. Wehner has likewise performed with The Washington Ballet, Oakland Ballet and Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. She has also been a guest artist in ~ the Vail global Dance Festival, in Japan in the Aoyama Ballet Festival, and also the national Ballet the Japan’s gold Ballet Co-star. Sharon enjoys to teach dance to every ages and also abilities, particularly Dance for Parkinson’s Disease.