Who’s Who in a Ballet Company – Inside the Studio

Artistic Director:

The artistic director of a ballet company is the official dreamer. It’s their job to create, shape, and lead a company. Many artistic directors find their time split between working with the dancers and in the office. They make sure the whole company is staying focused and continuing to achieve their goals. You might not see the artistic director. However, you will be surrounded by the world they created every time you set foot in the studio or theatre.


Ballet Mistress / Master:

The ballet mistress (female) or master (male) is the artistic director’s right hand in the studio. They are responsible for maintaining the artistic director’s standards, and pushing the dancers to a higher level physically and professionally. You will find the ballet mistress / master in the studio teaching classes and rehearsing the company.

New York City Ballet Principal dancers Ashley Bouder and Jonathan Stafford. Photo by Paul Kolnik.


The highest ranking dancers in a company are the principles. Dancers given this title have worked hard, proved their dedication, and  shown a high level of artistry. Principals are given the leading roles in ballets where they are highlighted in solos or pas de deux.


New York City Ballet Soloists Ana Sophia Scheller and Adrian Danchig-Waring. Photo by Paul KolnikSoloists:


A soloist is a dancer that has been plucked from the corps de ballet. They are recognized for their talent and skill and are give a special position within the company. Soloists might not have the lead in a ballet, but their role as a supporting character is crucial to the story line in any ballet.



New York City Ballet Corps De Ballet. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Corps de Ballet:

The corps de ballet is the sole of a company. They are a group of dancers that move like one organism, setting the stage, and carrying the story from one scene to the next. With their acute attention to detail, these dancers move so precise, it’s hard to tell who is who when they perform.