The Unexpected Side Effects of Losing Your Dance Gig

Getting fired isn't pretty, but it happens. And no matter the reason, there are ways to rebuild your dance career. But don't be caught off guard by these potential repercussions from losing your job:

Being the elephant in the room.

Erik Tomasson

You may need to show up to work for a period of time after learning that you won't be back next season. "I still had to rehearse with the same people, who had all heard what happened," says Ballet San Antonio's Kathleen Martin, who was previously let go from Ballet West. "It was difficult to be professional, but it helped motivate me to move on."

Cash-flow issues.

Jim Lafferty

"I spent all my money to fly all over the country and audition," says Martin. "At one point I had to take a $3 Megabus and arrived just in time to walk right into the studio."

Conflicting emotions.


You may find it confusing to realize you're happy and sad at the same time. "Your frontal cortex matures to deal with ambiguity," explains Patch Schwadron, senior career counselor with Career Transition for Dancers. "You may be in pain, but you might also feel excited to have some time to go to Europe for a few weeks."

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TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.