A principal may be male or female. The position is similar to that of soloist; however, principals are hired by (or promoted from within) a company to regularly perform not only solos, but also 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. They are usually the star of the ballet. The term senior principal dancer is sometimes used as well.
The terms prima ballerina or premier danseur have been used to denote similar levels of prominence in non Anglo-Saxon companies. In the Paris Opera Ballet, princpal dancers receive the title of Danseur Étoile.