The life of a dancer in NYC doesn't come cheap. Photo by Lucas Favre/Unsplash

"What I Spent"—A Week in the Life of an NYC Freelancer

Dance Magazine asked one anonymous dancer to record how she spent her money over the course of one week. Here's what she sent us.


About Me

Current gigs: Freelance dancer, personal trainer, freelance writer

Age: 25

City: Brooklyn, NY

2017 income: About $45,000. About half comes from dance and choreography gigs, half from personal training. (I make $85 an hour training, before taxes.) Anything I make writing I save for taxes.

My Regular Monthly Expenses

The phone bill is covered by Dad. Photo by Thinkstock

Rent: $850 for one room in a four-bedroom apartment

Utilities: About $20 for my share of gas and electric

Loan payments: $200 for student loans

Health insurance: $0. I've got a few more months covered by my father's insurance plan, so I'm cramming all the appointments in. Thanks, Dad.

Phone: $0. Again, thanks, Dad.

Transportation: $121 for an unlimited subway card

Groceries: About $200. I make breakfast and dinner at home most days, and typically pack a lunch or snacks.

Netflix: $10.99

Spotify: $9.99

Gym: $9.99

MoviePass: $9.99

Vitamins: About $20. I start every morning with a homemade turmeric latte and a bunch of vitamins.

Internet: $0. We use the Wi-Fi from the bar beneath our apartment.

Cable: $0. We don't have it.

Monday

"Oat milk is my newest obsession." Photo by Thinkstock.

Yoga: $30, for a new student package of three classes. It's my day off, so I take an 11:15 class.

Oat milk: $6. This is my newest obsession, and after yoga I stop by a cafe to buy some before going home to make a spinach and mushroom omelet for lunch.

Groceries: $17.69 at Trader Joe's. My boyfriend brings over the sausages we recently made at a sausage-making class at a butchery (gifted to us by his sister), so I grab what we need to cook butternut-squash pasta, and from-scratch Caesar dressing for a kale salad.

Black Panther: $0. We both just got MoviePass, and this is the third movie we've seen in the last week and a half!

Daily Total: $53.69

Tuesday

Leftovers are cheaper and save time. Photo by Thinkstock

Doctor's appointment: $35 co-pay, to discuss the results of a recent MRI

Bottle of water: $1.50. I packed plenty of snacks, but forgot to bring my water bottle for a rehearsal held at Mark Morris Dance Center.

Dinner: $0. I enjoy leftovers from last night.

Daily Total: $36.50

Wednesday

A new student package of yoga classes comes out to $10 per class. Photo by Bruce Mars/Unsplash

Studio rental: $30. After training two clients back-to-back, I have a voice lesson for an upcoming musical theater audition. My vocal coach is a close friend, so I just pay for the studio rental.

Yoga class: $0. It's the second in my package.

Dinner: $0. Like most nights, I cook something simple at home. I make a bowl of rice, green beans, sweet potatoes, black beans and corn for dinner, and prep a second portion to take with me for lunch tomorrow.

Daily Total: $30

Thursday

"I have to pay $3.99 each time I need to print a copy of the music." Photo by Unsplash.

Workout: $0. I work out by myself at the gym before training a client.

Printing: $15.91. I stop by the print shop in my neighborhood to print my headshot, resumé, sides and sheet music. It's quite a few pages, and I have to pay $3.99 each time I need to print a copy of the music.

Daily Total: $15.91

Friday

After the audition, she joins her boyfriend for a celebratory drink and dinner out. Photo by Quentin Dr/Unsplash

Breakfast: $4. On the subway, I realize I forgot to eat, so I stop at a cafe near the audition studio to grab a gluten-free bar.

Lunch: $0. I make it through the first round and have a break. I walk over to Chelsea Market to eat my packed lunch and read a book (Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore) for about an hour before I have to head back up.

Dinner and a celebratory drink: $45.73. After the audition, I meet my boyfriend for dinner. We splurge and order pâté, charcuterie and two incredible veggie dishes at one of our favorite spots. We split the bill.

Daily Total: $49.73

Saturday

"Skin care is my weakness." Photo by Thinkstock

Brunch: $13. I'm running low on groceries, so after sleeping in, I treat myself to a big omelet at a local diner.

Groceries: $15. On the way home after training a client, I stop at Trader Joe's. I'm heading out of town on Monday, so I just grab eggs and kombucha.

Skin care: $24.39. While walking around the neighborhood, my roommates and I notice that The Ordinary, a skin care brand we've been dying to try, has just opened a shop a few blocks from us. Skin care is my weakness, but this brand is super-affordable. I buy a moisturizer and two oils.

Dinner: $0. My boyfriend cooks for us at his place.

Daily Total: $52.39

Sunday

"The laundromat next door just increased their machine prices." Photo by Thinkstock.

Laundry: $9 to wash and dry a small load. After training a few clients, I take my laundry to the laundromat next door for self-service. They've just increased their machine prices.

Dance class: $22. Two of my friends are teaching their signature partnering class at Broadway Dance Center. I pay the drop-in rate.

Daily Total: $31

Weekly Total: $269.22

Latest Posts


Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS