Doormouse (theredoormouse) wrote in little_details,

Dancer's Wages in 1875

Where/When Paris 1875-ish
Search Terms "Life of a Ballerina", "Ballerina + 19th century Paris", "19th Century Paris", "Wages of a dancer + 1875" + "Paris Opera House + wages + history" and "memoirs of ballerinas + paris + 1875" (all with different arrangements of quotes)
Also checked back in the archives here. Found out she'd probably be middle class, but given the time period that could still mean a large gap in terms of pay between her and, say, a girl selling birds in the streets.

So my main character is a member of the corps de ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance, which has just been moved to the Paris Opera house since the old Academy burned down. (From my understanding of it's workings, she's not a student anymore and has moved from the academy portion to the performance portion. Feel free to correct me should I be confused on that point.) She's talented, and very, very good, but given the competitive nature of ballet and the fact that during that era how much you brought in from the Solicitors she's not the Prima. (yet)

I have learned more than I ever thought possible about pointe shoes. I know too much about costumes of the era, the hierarchy of ballet dancers, and I have been sufficiently chastised for calling all ballet dancers Ballerinas.

I know the layout of the Paris Opera House, it's history and the history of the old Academy of the Arts. Though I have not learned how to add all the pretty accent marks without copy and pasting. :) Still, all that aside I cannot find much about the more everyday kind of aspects of a dancer's life in this time period.

I know that dancers, especially professional ones, go through their shoes in only a few months.
So, what I'm wondering is: Would dancers at the Opera House be paid enough to afford shoes so frequently? I mean it seems like they couldn't possibly make enough to replace shoes all the time, AND afford food, lodging, clothes, and the like, but the Opera House also trains their dancers, so these girls (and guys) have to be skilled. I can't imagine they'd drop a truly talented dancer just because she can't make enough to afford her own shoes so I have to imagine they make at least that much, but I thought ballet slippers were just like silk socks so what I assume isn't a really reliable thing....Maybe I'm totally wrong and they made enough to live comfortably and buy all the shoes they could want.

This wondering about her economic state brings up a few other questions: Would my dancer get paid less during rehearsals? Would it be a lump-sum for actual productions or would she get paid for each night she performed?

As long as I can pick the brains of such brilliant people I would love a source like a memoir or something with information about what life would have been like in general for someone studying and/or working at the Opera House, but honestly I'll be ecstatic just to get these questions answered.

Thanks in advance!
Tags: 1870-1879, france: history, ~arts: ballet

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