Dear Katie: Do I Have to Take Ballet If I Want to Dance Professionally?

March 19, 2018

In our “Dear Katie” series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email
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Dear Katie,

I’m a hip-hop and jazz dancer, and I want to get involved in the commercial-dance world. I’ve never studied ballet, but people keep telling me I “have to” take ballet classes if I want to make it professionally. Is that really true? My family has limited money for dance classes, and I have to be careful about how I spend it.


Dear Sarah,

Ballet is the basis of many dance styles. It will help your strength, flexibility, and coordination. Every dancer should take ballet if they can.

However, it’s not absolutely required for a professional career in a non-ballet style. If money is tight, I’d suggest looking for a class that combines ballet with other styles—a contemporary class with a ballet-based warm-up, for example. That way you can get the benefits of ballet without shifting your focus too far from your professional goals. If your studio offers a ballet workshop weekend, that’s another way to get a good dose of ballet without spending too much money. Don’t completely rule ballet out, but don’t feel the pressure to take it five times a week, either!

For more of Katie’s helpful tips and advice, click here.