CPANDATransitioning From a Professional Dance Career
About this Quick Fact
According to the aDvANCE
Project [United States], professional dancers in the United States
end their performance careers, on average, at the age of 34.
The aDvANCE Project [United States], conducted by the Research Center
for Arts and Culture, was undertaken in order to assess the transition
of professional dancers to post-performance careers. The survey, conducted
by mail in 2003, consisted of a random sample of 220 dancers in the United
States, drawn from a list of organizations such as the U.S. Career Transition
for Dancers organization, unions, and dance companies. The sample of dancers
included 49 current dancers and 171 former dancers.
How Long Do Dance Careers Last?
According to the aDvANCE Project, on average, dancers begin their professional
dance careers at 19 years old and end their active dance careers at the
age of 34. This indicates that 15 years is the average duration of a professional
dance career in the United States. However, when former dancers were asked
in hindsight how long they expected their professional dance careers to
last, the average response was 37 years old. Current dancers said they
expected their professional dance careers to last until the age of 40.
Why Do Dancers End Their Professional Performance Careers?
The aDvANCE Project compared the reasons why former dancers' professional
performance careers ended with the reasons given by current dancers as
to what might cause their dancing careers to end. While 35% of former
dancers stated health reasons for ending their careers, 43% of current
dancers expected health-related causes to intervene. Only about 22% of
former dancers stated that age ended their careers while 41% of current
dancers expected age to be a career-ending factor. Interestingly, while
just 1% of former dancers stated that "wanting a new career"
contributed to ending their dance careers, 45% of current dancers expected
it to be significant reason.
Fewer Challenges in Career Transition Than Current Dancers Expect
The aDvANCE Project also compared the post-performance career transition
challenges faced by former professional dancers with what current dancers
perceive will be the challenges of career transition. Former dancers experienced
a "sense of emptiness" related to career transition at a similar
rate as expected by current dancers. However, for most other post-performance
transition challenges, significantly fewer former dancers experienced
challenges compared with the expectations of current dancers. For example,
while 44% of former dancers actually faced physical or health challenges
in career transition, 55% of current dancers believed that physical challenges
would be a significant factor. In addition, "deciding what to do
next" was a career transition challenge for 42% of former dancers
in the study, while 55% of current dancers expect it to be a post-performance
challenge. "Loss of income" was an actual challenge in career
transition for 40% of former dancers and an expected challenge for 49%
of current dancers. Finally, despite only 32% of former dancers having
experienced "loss of status" as a significant post-performance
challenge, 41% of current dancers perceived it to be a future career transition
challenge. In nearly all categories, a substantially smaller proportion
of former dancers experienced challenges in post-performance career transition
than the proportion of current dancers who anticipated challenges.
The data from the aDvANCE Project [United States] can be accessed through
CPANDA for further analysis. Other questions that might be analyzed include:
- What was your income from dance at the highest point of your career?
- What was your income from dance at the lowest point of your career?
- Overall, how would you rate your preparedness to meet the challenges of transition, when it occurs?
Explore these and other questions through FACTOID.