6  Roster Size and Hiring

6.1 How common is it for dancers to join second company programs in the top 26 US ballet companies?

See the key for company codes.


Interpret with caution: Statistics are underestimates as San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West incompletely list second company information as of 2020-2021.

Additionally, we report second company information for dancers in the top 26 companies. We do not currently look at the percentage of second company dancers hired by companies. Rather, we look at the percentage of dancers currently in the main company who danced in the second company.

Out of 1018 dancers in the 2021 - 2022 season for the largest 26 ballet companies, 522 (51.3%) previously joined at least one of these programs. Of the 522 dancers who attended a second company program, 91 dancers (17.4%) attended two or more of these programs. Dancers who danced in a second company program were more likely to be a newer dancer in their company. Going to at least one program is a trend seen with more recently recruited dancers (generally younger), while dancing in more than one second company program is an even newer trend. In previous posts about affiliate schools and hiring, we saw that entering into the top seven companies from either a non-affiliated school or an outside company is difficult.

6.1.1 Of those students who danced in a second company program and were hired by one of the top 26 main companies, what percentage attended the second company’s affiliated school?

Out of 522 total dancers, 178 (34.1%) attended the affiliate school before joining the second company program.

Note that because dancers can attend multiple second company programs, one dancer can be counted as attending the affiliated school of one second company and not the other if the two second companies are part of different organizations. For example, Jane Doe attends Boston Ballet School and was a Boston Ballet II member - she is added to the percentage. She was also a member of Kansas City Ballet II but did not go to Kansas City Ballet School. This second instance does not get added to the percentage.

6.1.2 What percentage of dancers who attended a second company program are still employed by the affiliated main company?

Out of 522 total dancers, 332 (63.6%) who went to a second company program remain at the affiliated company.

The above data suggests that a second company program can act as a reliable pathway to joining a company, even if a dancer did not train at the main company’s affiliated school.

6.1.3 Different Pathways for Different Programs

Hold the Command/CTRL key while clicking to select multiple programs in the select menu:

In these tables, we can see that the outcomes for second companies can be radically different! Some programs recruit heavily from their school AND provide a reliable path into the main company (San Francisco Ballet Trainee). Others recruit from external schools but bring second company members into main companies (Philadelphia Ballet II, Colorado Ballet Studio Company, Pittsburgh Ballet School Graduate Program, and Ballet West II). Others balance external and internal program recruitment and are good overall at getting members into US ballet companies (American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and Houston Ballet II).

These results indicate that second company programs offer an opportunity to transition from an unaffiliated school into a program that feeds into a company. However, this also indicates that students at affiliate schools face great competition for spots in these programs from non-affiliated students.

6.1.4 Choosing the right program

Based on what we have shown, choosing the right program can greatly influence the trajectory of a dancer’s career. Here are a few things to keep in mind while choosing:

For some companies (mostly in the top seven), joining a second company program can be your best bet of ever joining a specific main company - especially if you did not train at their affiliate school. If you know what your dream company is, prioritize getting into their program as early as possible or take the risk of being locked out further on in your career.

Try to choose training institutions that have high hire rates out of their second company programs. Your ultimate goal as a prospective professional dancer should be to get a job, regardless of whether it is at the affiliated main company or not. Aim for programs that have good track records for dancers.

Anecdotally, the last summer intensive before graduation from ballet finishing school is important for second company placement. While some programs have open auditions and audition tours, many have a selection process based on summer intensive performance (which has its own costs). Choose the last summer intensive before graduation wisely to maximize your chances.

Second Company



ABT Studio Company


Atlanta Ballet II


Ballet Arizona Studio Company


Ballet Austin Fellow


Ballet Austin II


Ballet West II


Boston Ballet II


Charlotte Ballet II


Cincinnati Ballet II


Cincinnati Ballet Trainee


Colorado Ballet Studio Company


Joffrey Ballet Studio Company


Joffrey Ballet Trainee


Kansas City Ballet II


Kansas City Ballet Trainee


Milwaukee Ballet II


Oregon Ballet Theatre II


Pennsylvania Ballet II


Richmond Ballet II


Richmond Ballet Trainee


Sarasota Ballet Studio Company


Texas Ballet Theater Trainee



Tulsa Ballet II


Washington Ballet Studio Company




We have only recently started tracking second company size. Rosters for second companies are updated less regularly than for main companies. As such, it can be difficult to determine which season the second company roster comes from.