Unlike many occupational trajectories, individuals pursuing a dance career face unique challenges. Contractual engagements are predominantly short and frequently part-time. As high-performance athletes, dancers also face an unusually high risk of career-ending injury. According to a national survey of professional dancers in Canada, annual earnings average $18,000 per annum and 88% of professional performing careers end by the age of 40. At an age when most professionals are reaching a peak in their careers and socioeconomic status, it is not unusual for a dancer’s career to end abruptly, leaving psychological and financial hardship in its wake.
Founded in 1985, the Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization mandated to help dancers make necessary transitions into, within, and from professional performing careers. As the only Canadian organization that addresses the specific transition-based needs of professional dancers, the DTRC support the dancer and their immediate needs while simultaneously building their capacity for the future. By reflecting the complete career cycle of a professional dancer, the DTRC's programs and services are designed to:
- Create awareness of the breadth and scope of dance career possibilities;
- Provide the resources, information, and networking opportunities needed to make a successful transition into the profession;
- Provide the practical and emotional support necessary to manage the demands of the profession; and
- Provide vital assistance in the form of counseling, skills development, and retraining assistance for dancers in transition.
In 2013, the DTRC provided over $400,000 in vital support services to Canada's professional dancers.
“We know of no other occupation that requires such extensive training, which is held in such esteem as a contribution to culture, and pays so little … In the long-run, the vitality of dance activity itself requires attention to the welfare of those engaged in it … The inadequacy of transition support not only creates significant challenges for individual dancers, but also imposes a social cost in the form of wasted human capital.”
Making Changes: Facilitating the Transition of Dancers to Post-Performance Careers: William Baumol (New York University & Princeton University, USA); Joan Jeffri (Columbia University, USA); David Throsby (Macquarie University, AUS)
 A Profile of Professional Dancers in Canada, Kelly Hill, Hill Strategies Research Incorporated. Toronto 2005
Photo: Simone Orlando by David Cooper