How Much Does ‘Nutcracker’ Star and Prima Ballerina Misty Copeland Make Each Year?

Misty Copeland made history in 2015 when she became the first African-American woman to be named a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Now, she’s dancing her way onto the big screen with a major role in Disney’s new movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

Copeland is without a doubt the most famous ballerina in America (she’s even been turned into a Barbie doll). Here’s how much she earns for her fancy footwork.

Copeland earns six figures as a principal dancer

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland at the premiere of Disney’s Nutcracker And The Four Realms. | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Copeland’s path to ballet success wasn’t exactly traditional. She didn’t start dancing until she was 13 – much later than when most dancers begin their training. Money was tight (at one point, her family had to move into a motel) and keeping up with lessons was a struggle. But she stuck with dance, and six years later, she joined the American Ballet Theatre – widely regarded as the most prestigious ballet company in America — as a corps member. Copeland was a minority in the ballet world, which is mostly white, and her curvy body didn’t fit the mold of the typical dancer. Still, she rose through the ranks, becoming a soloist in 2007 and a principal in 2015.

Soloist at the ABT earn between $50,000 and $100,000, Copeland told ESPN in 2014, adding that she was at the top of that range. Once she was promoted to principal, her salary would have increased as well. The ABT’s two top-paid dancers earned $158,772 and $188,157 in 2016, according to the Form 990 the company filed with the IRS, but Copeland wasn’t one of them. A rough guess would put her salary somewhere between $100,000 and $158,000. (There are 15 principal dancers at the ABT.)

Copeland earns far more than most dancers

Those number might make it seem like being a ballerina is pretty lucrative, but they’re on the high end of dancer salaries. In a 2017 Dance magazine poll, many dancers and choreographers said they earned less than $30,000 a year, even though they were working full-time. Dancers at prestigious companies like the Joffrey Ballet and the Washington Ballet reported earning between $670 and $1,015 a week when the company was in season, according to a 2013 report in Pointe magazine.

Her other sources of income


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As Copeland’s star has risen, so have her money-making opportunities. In 2014, she landed a deal with Under Armour that she said paid a little more than her ballet salary.

Copeland has also appeared in ads for Dr. Pepper, Blackberry, Oikos, Coach, and Estée Lauder. She was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance?, has written several books (including a memoir, Life in Motion), and performed with Prince and on Broadway. In 2018, she made the leap to cinema with a role in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. She has the only dancing part in the movie, which is inspired by the Tchaikovsky ballet.

Misty Copeland’s net worth

Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Copeland has a net worth of $500,000. But that’s sure to grow if she picks up more endorsements – and more film roles.

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