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How to become a professional Ballet Dancer

Let’s be real, who hasn’t dreamed of becoming a professional dancer at some point in their

life? Realistically, however, only 10% of adults hold their childhood dream profession, according to a survey by TollFreeForwarding[1]. So how does someone become a professional ballet dancer? We asked Corps de Ballet Dancer at the WA Ballet, Nikki Johnson to share her journey on living her dream job.

Like many young girls, Nikki started Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz at the age of five and by the age of six, she knew she wanted to be a Ballerina. By the tender age of 14, she left her family and moved from Brisbane to Melbourne to start full time training at the Australian Ballet School. This is where her serious Ballet journey began. After 5 years of full-time training, Nikki began auditioning all over Europe. After countless auditions and no success (she estimates about 30 in total- talk about perseverance!), Nikki returned to Australia. She found the rejections were tough, but they made her even more determined for success. After two years of additional training and auditions, she finally got her big break, an apprenticeship at the National Ballet of Canada, Toronto.

After two years in this role, her contract had ended and Nikki found herself auditioning again, this time for the WA Ballet who were holding auditions in New York City. She was successful and offered a full-time contract where she has been for the past five years.

With so few people working in their dream role, we asked Nikki what is the best advice she has received on her journey? “Never give up and always back yourself”, she said. As we can see from Nikki’s experience, perseverance and determination are key to living your dream. If she can pass on some advice to those who dream of one day being a professional dancer it’s this; “I would say work hard, work hard and work harder! The professional dance industry is an incredibly competitive one, so you’ve got to be ready to fight for it. It’s the coolest job ever though- the blood, sweat and tears are worth it to live your life on the stage!”.

Nikki is our Senior Ballet and Pointe specialist teacher at Centre Stage Dance & Entertainment. You can also see Nikki in the WA Ballet’s upcoming performance of Dracula, 11-26 September.

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