Can Dancers Really Have It All? How to Balance a Relationship with Company Life and Extra Gigs

November 27, 2017

My girlfriend wants me to say “no” to extra work outside of the company. During breaks, I typically teach master classes, do gigs and choreograph. I love these opportunities, but I’m always tired and it interferes with our time together. What should I do?

—Principal Dancer, New York, NY

There are many reasons for overwork, though not all are bad. Research shows that one cause is the “curse of career happiness.” Most dancers feel passionate about their work, whereas only 13 percent of the general population is happy with what they do. This makes it easy for you to get sucked into taking on more and more projects—even if it’s exhausting and leads you to neglect loved ones. To create a more constructive work/ life balance and avoid burnout, try to reframe breaks as opportunities to express different aspects of yourself through favorite hobbies, like painting or travel, and enjoying the luxury of quality time for cherished relationships. This approach will enrich your overall well-being and help you recharge your batteries to be more productive at work. Of course, you can still take on special dance jobs during a layoff. You shouldn’t feel guilty for doing what you love or taking advantage of the chance to earn extra income. Just reassure your girlfriend that you plan to prioritize and strive for moderation.

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