My Director Thinks I've Reached Retirement Age, But I Disagree
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 email@example.com.
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.