Hierarchic titles::Ballet dancer


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Hierarchic titles Many use the term ballerina incorrectly, often using it to describe any female ballet student or dancer. Ballerina was once a rank given only to the most exceptional female soloists. In opera, the informal equivalent is diva, which means a distinguished singer, but may also denote a prima donna (i.e. a temperamental person; a person who takes adulation and privileged treatment as a right and reacts with petulance to criticism or inconvenience). In similar fashion, and mostly informally, the ballerina would be the prima donna of the dance world.


More or less, depending on the source, the rankings for women—from highest to lowest—used to be:

  • Prima ballerina assoluta{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} (Italy)
  • Prima ballerina, premier sujet{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} or première danseuse{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Sujet{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Coryphée{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Corps de ballet{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}


For men, the ranks were:

  • Premier danseur noble{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Premier danseur{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Danseur{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Sujet{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Coryphée{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Corps de ballet{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}
  • Ballerino{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}


Ballet companies continue to rank their dancers in hierarchical fashion, although most have adopted a sex neutral classification system, and very few recognise a single leading dancer above all other company members. In most large companies, there are usually several leading dancers of each sex, titled principal dancer or étoile to reflect their seniority, and more often, their status within the company. The most common rankings (in English) are:

The title of prima ballerina assoluta{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} is rarely used, and it is usually reserved as a mark of respect for an internationally renowned dancer who has had a highly notable career.

Dancers who are identified as a guest artist, are usually those who have achieved a high rank with their home company, and have subsequently been engaged to dance with other ballet companies around the world, normally performing the lead role. They are usually principal dancers or soloists with their home company, but given the title of Guest Artist when performing with another company.

Prima ballerina assoluta{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}

The title or rank of prima ballerina assoluta{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} was originally inspired by the Italian ballet masters of the early Romantic Ballet and was bestowed on a ballerina who was considered to be exceptionally talented, above the standard of other leading ballerinas. The title is very rarely used today and recent uses have typically been symbolic, in recognition of a notable career and as a result, it is commonly viewed as an honour rather than an active rank.

Ballet dancer sections
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Hierarchic titles
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