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July 10, 2005

Dance Advice: A guide to tipping your partner

A young ballerina writes in and asks:

Dear Mr. Witchel:

I am about going to be dancing my first Giselle in a week with a new partner. Is a gratuity expected at the end of the performance? If so, how much should I tip?

Yes, young ballerina. Tipping your partner is a polite way of thanking him for his services and always appreciated by a hardworking porteur.

How to know how much to tip? Length of dance and number of lifts are your best guide.

Here's our rule of thumb for tipping partners:

Tip 20% if the lifts have been exceptional. These include perfect pops in helicopters, or any one handed presses.

Tip 15% in standard situations, such as the grand pas in Nutcracker.

You may tip lower amounts for perfunctory partnering, excessive moping and/or groaning, clammy hands, narcissism, egotism or inattentiveness. You do not need to tip at all if your partner drops you.

Tip 50% "combat pay" if:

You should also offer to pay any chiropractor bills.

You can print out this list and carry it in your dance bag so it's handy when you need it. Use clean new bills for gratuities, but it is considered bad form to slip them into your partner's dance belt. An envelope will suffice.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at July 10, 2005 9:35 PM

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Gee, and all the while I thought the standard tip was a rose from the bouquet!

Posted by: Carley at July 10, 2005 11:35 PM

Aren't you glad you read this then? There are hundreds, nay thousands of cavaliers out there smiling through gritted teeth at the curtains calls, thinking, "ONE LOUSY ROSE???!!!"

It's cash they want.

Helpfully yours,


Posted by: Leigh Witchel at July 10, 2005 11:40 PM

You left out about not tipping if he gropes you...

Posted by: Grace at July 15, 2005 10:38 PM

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