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How does a dance company work?

In most of the theaters around the world, there is a very specific way of how it’s organized.

There are usually 3 types of artists working in an opera house which are: dancers, musicians and opera singers with an artistic director for each category.

In this article, I’m going to explain to you the ranking system in the dance category.

Most of the time, a dance company has a ranking system which is established by the artistic director. Depending on how big the company is, you may have more or less ranks.

If we take the example of a big company; of about 150 dancers let’s say as Paris Opera, we are going to have 5 ranks which are: quadrille, coryphée, sujet, 1er danseur and étoile.

Depending in what rank you are in, it usually defines the character you are going to play in a piece.

Now let’s take the example of the Ballet de Nice Méditerranée (where I am currently working). We are 25 dancers and there are three ranks which are: corps de ballet, demi-soloist and soloist

As you can see, the systems are similar but depend on the seize of the company.


Drawing: Alexandra Vadon

Now you may ask yourself, who decides who will be in each rank? It will be the artistic director. He is considered very important because he bears the responsibility of a dancer’s carrier.

He is the one who decides who goes where. But don’t worry, he usually has had a great carrier as a dancer, or as a choreographer. Some still dance or choreograph. They are well known in the artistic world and chosen by the State (if it’s a state company) and the main director of the theater. The artistic director is also the one who decides who gets promoted for the next season.


We ALL start as corps de ballet members (the lowest rank) and to be able to become a soloist you have to go through the ranks. Some people make it in 5 years others in 10. It depends on how you perform, your progression and evolution as an artist.

Currently, I am a corps de ballet member hoping to have the chance to go through the ranks and get as high as I can. I’m already lucky to be able to live my dream and share my passion with you guys.



Hoping this info helped you to understand a bit more what’s inside a beautiful opera house.

Thank you for reading.

Alex Inside Motion

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