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Career Transition For Dancers – Jump For Joy

By Emily Yewell Volin.

Career Transition For Dancers’ (CTFD) 27th Anniversary Jubilee Gala Jump For Joy, presented by Rolex, will be at New York’s City Center on November 5. Anne Marie DeAngelo is producing and directing the gala and describes it as “art as entertainment.”

“Part of what I look for is introducing new dancers, groups, talents and genres not only to the public but also to introduce them to the organization”, says DeAngelo.  “It’s a way of bringing dancers together, meeting other dancers and learning more about what the organization (CTFD) has to offer.  The mission is two-fold.  One is to get an eclectic mix of talent and the other is to bring onboard new people so they also learn about the organization.”

CTFD Executive Director Alex Dubé adds, “We are all about gratitude because if you were to compare our evening programs where we list all of our sponsors, our donors and our patrons, if you were to lay the Playbills side by side, you would probably see somewhere around 68-73% of the same names year after year.  It’s extraordinary that we have the type of devoted people and organizations who want to be part of our program.”

Career Transition For Dancers Gala.

American Repertory Ballet performs at last year’s CTFD Gala. Photo by Richard Termine

CTFD set a $1.1 million fundraising goal for this year’s gala, which includes the performance, a Supper with the Stars event during which guests mingle with table-hopping stars from the performance and a 10-13 “one of a kind” live auction of items Dubé describes as “things you normally can’t buy, the type of things you can only get through a friend-of-a-friend.”

All funds raised from Jump For Joy are used to support the absolutely free-of-charge programs and services CTFD offers for dancers.  Dubé categorizes these offerings as the “marrow and heart” of the organization.  “The marrow of CTFD is the organization’s dynamic career counselors – one in each of the offices (NY, LA and Chicago) and then two additional counselors who usually do our national outreach projects.  We usually do six national outreach projects a year. This is when we take our programs and services on the road with our professional counselors and we go to cities throughout the United States where there is a very heavy dancer population. We are usually there 2-3 days, meeting with the dance population in a series of master classes, workshops and seminars.  The counselors usually see about 12-15 clients at the end of each day for 30-minute sessions, just to give them a taste of our programs and services.  Hopefully, they will sign on with us and can continue their counseling long-distance or even in person.”

Each Career Transition For Dancers’ office also usually holds six or seven Career Conversations a year.  These seminars deal with ‘hot topics of transition such as going back to school, writing a better résumé, and how to get a bread-and-butter job.  These are topics that need to be faced when a dancer moves on or actually starts to think about a transitional track.

dance career counseling

Career Counselor Lauren Gordon providing a one-on-one consultation after ‘Stepping Into Hope and Change 2011’ seminar in New York. Photo by Dirty Sugar Live

“We are the dancer’s safety net,” says Dubé.  “We plant the seed of the inevitability of transition to avoid crisis.  We want to start by going into the schools.  We want to make sure even the parents are on board and that the parents know about our organization, especially if they are going to send their child to a college or a university and they want that child to major in dance.  It’s important to know that their child is going into a profession where unfortunately the average age is 29 ½ years of age for a career. Then he/she faces the question of ‘what am I going to do with the rest of my life?’”  CTFD plants this seed early “not to frighten the student or the pre-professional, but to let them know that while they are pursuing and enjoying a fantastic dance career, there are things they should and could be doing at the same time they are dancing professionally to prepare for the day when they have to look at a transition.”

In testament to CTFD’s dedication to serving a larger population of dancer clients, Dubé shares that his highest wish for the organization would be an $8-10 million endowment used to sustain and stabilize the organization.  “Last fiscal year (2011) CTFD provided 8,660 hours of free-of-charge career counseling at the accepted rate of $110 per hour for a total of $952,600 and awarded $488,000 in scholarships, totaling a $1.4 million worth of services to their dancer-clients. Next year (2013) our budget is $1.6 million.  Every year we have to raise that money from scratch, each and every year, because the organization does not have an endowment.  We’re a service organization.  We do not compete with any other dance organizations or dance companies.  As a matter of fact, for dance companies we are the perfect bookend.  As dancers come into the company, into the schools, we will be there as dancers exit and go into another career. And, we are with dancers throughout their lives because sometimes dancers go into a career and it may not be the right fit, so they will come back into CTFD again and pick up where they left off.  We need to do even more for the dancers, we need more money for scholarships, we need to increase the dollar amount of our scholarships.  We need to provide even more in-depth programs and services for our dancers.”

For more information visit www.careertransition.org

Top photo: Career Transition For Dancers seminar Stepping Into Hope and Change 2012, held in Chicago. Photo by Rose Yuen.

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