A principal dancer is a dancer at the highest rank within a professional dance company
A dance troupe or dance company is a group of dancers and associated personnel who work together to perform dances as a spectacle or entertainment.-Members:*Artistic Director*Choreographers*Dancers*Board of Directors*Education administrator...
, particularly a ballet company
A ballet company is a group of dancers who perform ballet, plus managerial and support staff. Most major ballet companies employ dancers on a year-round basis, except in the United States, where contracts for part of the year are the norm...
A principal may be male or female. The position is similar to that of soloist
In ballet, a soloist is a dancer in a ballet company above the corps de ballet but below principal dancer....
; however, principals are hired by (or promoted from within) a company to regularly perform not only solos
A solo dance is danced by an individual dancing alone, as opposed to couples dancing together but independently of others dancing at the same time, if any, and as opposed to groups of people dancing simultaneously in a coordinated manner. Solo dancers are usually the best dancers in a group or...
, but also pas de deux
Pas de deux
In ballet, a pas de deux is a duet in which ballet dancers perform the dance together. It usually consists of an entrée, adagio, two variations , and a coda.-Notable Pas de deux:...
. It is a coveted position in the company and the most prominent position a dancer can receive. The term is used mostly in ballet but can be used in other forms as well, such as modern dance
Modern dance is a dance form developed in the early 20th century. Although the term Modern dance has also been applied to a category of 20th Century ballroom dances, Modern dance as a term usually refers to 20th century concert dance.-Intro:...
. The terms prima ballerina, premier danseur, and première danseuse have been used to denote similar levels of prominence. They are usually the star of the ballet.
The term senior principal dancer is sometimes used as well.