Am I Selling Myself Short?

July 10, 2017

Three small dance companies offered me a job. The first wanted to give me good roles without pay until someone left. The second (which I took) pays, although the rep isn’t as good and the studios are in a mall! The last was just a Nutcracker season in a nice company. Sadly, it feels like I “settled” for money rather than artistry. Did I make the right choice?

—Depressed Dancer, Midwest

While I appreciate your need for artistic challenges, it sounds like you made a smart choice to pay your bills and gain more performing experience. In the future, you might consider training for a lucrative survival job during breaks, such as headshot photography, massage therapy or Pilates instruction—something that would allow you to accept dance projects you’re interested in no matter the pay.

Meanwhile, let the first director know that you’re still interested in the offer if a paid position opens up. You can also keep auditioning for other companies. Dancers often perform in as many as six companies during their careers, according to research I published in the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. There’s no need to give up your artistic aspirations or stay at the same company forever!

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at
[email protected].