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Think your child's extracurricular activity is expensive? Try raising a ballerina
A new analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that raising a ballerina costs approximately $100,000. It's a crazy sum for almost any family, but especially so for kids from low-income families. - photo by Omar Etman
Childrens extracurricular activities can be absurdly expensive, but a new FiveThirtyEight analysis has found that few are costlier than ballet.

Assuming a child begins training at age 3 and continues through high school, it could cost $100,000 to raise a ballerina, detailed in FiveThirtyEight's conservative estimate. This expense is on top of the $250,000 it costs to raise a kid from birth to adulthood, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Last year, dance was ranked as one of the most expensive extracurriculars for kids, alongside activities like horseback riding. Of the varieties of dance, ballet is the costliest, requiring specific studios and technical skills usually only offered through formal and frequent training.

About two-thirds of the $100,000 goes to tuition at a top-tier ballet school, the kind for students who hope to become professional dancers, and intensive summer programs.

The rest comes mostly from hidden costs, the unexpected fees that regularly catch parents with kids participating in any activity off guard. In the case of ballet, they include things like pointe shoes ($29,000 over seven years), tights, leotards and the cost of travel to and from recitals.

As a result of the exorbitance, ballet, known for its emphasis on uniformity and history of discrimination, is practically inaccessible for children from lower-income families and people of color, The Washington Post explained.

In June, the New York Times reported on Misty Copeland becoming the first black woman to become principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, the highest stage in the world of ballet. Her promotion was met with an onslaught of media attention and a major endorsement deal with Under Armour, and served to highlight the persistent diversity gap in ballet.

Copeland didnt take her first ballet class until she was 13, 10 years after most of her counterparts had started, sometimes only months after they learned to walk. She came from a family that didnt always have enough food to eat, let alone money to spend on a hobby, she wrote in her memoir.

Kenya Rodriguez, administrator at Dance Theatre of Harlem, a school focused entirely on students of color, told FiveThirtyEight that the ballet industry needs to become more inclusive.

You have to practice diversity, she said. Its not something we suddenly embark on and its a one- or two-year project. In particular you have to diversify your faculty. If a child sees themselves reflected in the studio, theyre going to be more comfortable, and theyre probably going to continue their training more.
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