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

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

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

Latest Posts

Amber Star Menkens. Courtesy Dance for PD/Mark Morris Dance Groups

The Pandemic Has Helped Dance for PD Reach More People Than Ever

When COVID-19 forced the Dance for PD program at Mark Morris Dance Center to discontinue in-person classes on March 15, it was done with the same uncertainty that we all felt going into lockdown. How long will this last? How can we keep dancing?

Dance for PD, which uses movement to help those living with Parkinson's, was also faced with the question of how they could continue to serve a highly vulnerable population. What they found were solutions that will forever change the way that they serve their community.