Advice for Dancers

What's Next? Tips for Finding Another Career You Love After Retiring from the Stage

After dedicating your life to dance for so many years, it's unrealistic to expect that you'll fall for a new vocation right away. Photo by Ralph Daily/Wikimedia Commons

Why is it so hard to find another passion like dance for my next career? I've tried to prepare by taking vocational tests at Career Transition For Dancers and online college courses. But I keep hitting a dead end.

—Life After Dance?, Los Angeles, CA

For many performers, deciding to be a dancer occurred the moment they saw their first show. Dr. Ellen Winner, a psychologist and the author of Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, refers to this as a "crystallizing experience." If you're still crazy about dance, it's unrealistic to expect that you'll fall for a new vocation right away. Instead, allow yourself to experiment. Discovering what you don't like is valuable information that can bring you closer to finding your true path.

Even your hobbies, such as photography, may reveal a hidden talent that you can develop with further training. You can then choose to leave the dance world entirely or stay there wearing another hat, such as becoming a dance photographer. This can often be the answer for a fruitful new beginning. For example, I found psychology by returning to school while dancing at New York City Ballet. It satisfied my curiosity about the mind-body connection, leading to my passion as a performance psychologist.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at

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