Advice for Dancers

My Director Thinks I've Reached Retirement Age, But I Disagree

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My director informed me that this spring will be my last season because of my age. I'm only in my mid-30s! I'm getting great reviews, so what gives? Can't they wait until a ballet dancer's technique starts to fail?

—Retiring Too Soon, Midwest, USA


Although you may not be ready to consider retiring, remember that most company contracts only run for one year. It's at the discretion of the artistic staff whether to renew your contract or not. Letting you go may have more to do with money and the need to hire dancers at a lower pay scale.

However, unless your company can prove that your dancing isn't up to their standards anymore, you may be able to file an age-discrimination lawsuit if your director cited age as the cause of your termination. (The Age Discrimination in Employment Act covers most workers age 40 or older, but some states have separate laws about the discrimination of younger employees.)

Either way, I would guess that if you're injury-free in your 30s, you have more performing years ahead of you. You can audition for other companies or choose to work as a guest artist or freelancer. Don't give up!

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at advicefordancers@dancemedia.com.

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