Every dancer's career comes with disappointments. Maybe you're not getting cast in the roles you crave. Maybe you realize the promotion you're dreaming of will never come. Maybe you simply don't feel like you're living up to your potential.
But there has to be some balance to our labor of love. How can you know if you're just in a slump, or if it's time to change companies? How do you know if the negatives are outweighing the positives? Here are seven signs that you should possibly consider looking for a new dance job.
1. You're no longer receiving corrections or feedback on your performances. Every artist—in every field—needs feedback to progress. If you're not being pushed, or the artistic staff isn't responding to questions about your personal performance, there might be a bigger problem.
2. Your rank is ruining your relationship with dance. Are all your peers soaring ahead of you? If you know you are truly working your hardest and still feel like you're getting left behind, you might not be in the right environment. A different company could be a better fit for your strengths.
3. Extracurricular projects no longer fill the casting void. Sometimes when our dance career is in a slow phase, we can fill our time with outside projects like guestings, choreography, workshops, teaching, taking extra classes, etc. But if these activities aren't enough to satisfy you artistically or help you grow, you might need a bigger change than just another new side gig.
4. You can't talk to artistic staff. There are communication failings in every industry, but you shouldn't feel like you are constantly at odds with an "us verses them" mentality. Dancers need to be able to raise concerns about their needs, physical pains and career goals in a safe and empathetic environment.
5. You can't be your healthiest physical self. Every company has its own dynamic when it comes to unspoken expectations for physical health and well-being. You know your body better than anyone—it's your instrument. If your current company is demanding more than you can physically offer, find one that will provide you with the tools you need to create your longest, healthiest career possible.
6. You no longer believe in the artistic direction of the company. Every company goes through changes in artistic vision, whether it's due to finances, artistic leadership or societal influences. Find out the planned repertoire for next season and figure out how your dancing fits into that vision. If you feel like it's no longer a good match for you, don't stay just out of complacency.
7. You realize there is no clear path forward. Artistic leaders are not mind readers. Carve out appropriate opportunities to share your career goals with your director. Assess whether or not your vision for yourself aligns with theirs. Your director should be able to articulate their plan for your career's trajectory. Ask what you can work on to improve and never turn down an opportunity to learn a role that will stretch you artistically. But if your director doesn't see your career headed in the direction you want, take the reins into your own hands.