Our Stories - Chloe Wilkinson

"I really believe I have blossomed through this process"

Chloe's dance career ranged from being a principle dancer in Matthew Bourne's New Adventures company, to working with Curve Theatre Scotland and performing West Side Story in Austria.

In 2013, Dancers' Career Development awarded Chloe a Financial Retraining Grant to undertake her European Computer Driving Licence Advanced course, to improve her IT skills, and in 2014 she received a second grant towards undertaking the MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy at Roehampton University.

"My decision to transition came from a need to broaden my knowledge, initially outside of the dance world, arriving full circle and now bringing my skills that I obtained from my dance career and using them in another dimension.

I had a fabulous career as a dancer for 11 years, working predominantly with Matthew Bourne's New Adventures but also freelancing in the UK and abroad. Upon leaving the dance world I obtained my Pilates Instructing qualification so I was able to keep a little money coming in until I had decided what my next step would be. I then went on to obtain my European Computer Drivers License (ECDL) qualifications Level 2 and Advanced with the help of DCD. So far these skills have been invaluable with the work that I have done in the last 2 years, the present but also for the future. While taking my ECDL qualification I was lucky enough to work as temporary arts administrator for RE: Bourne, the education and fundraising department of New Adventures Dance Company. This gave me an opportunity to practice my new-found skills within an office environment.

Having done all this I have now realised that it would be foolish to not use the skills that I have learnt through dance. Through my transition I realised that I felt incredibly passionate about helping others achieve what they didn't think was possible. With this in mind I decided to apply for University and this where I currently reside: in my first year of a three year part time MA at Roehampton University to become a Dance Movement Psychotherapist (DMP). It's a life changing experience and one that wouldn't have been possible without Isabel Mortimer (DCD's life coach), and the staff and trustees of DCD!

As well as broadening my knowledge, I am constantly looking at myself, the world and the people within it in a different light.

As well as the help and support from DCD, they have opened my eyes to other areas of funding which I have also been incredibly thankful for.

Whilst on this course I am also volunteering at two places until at least Christmas. Teaching a fitness class to youth mental health outpatients and also at a weekly drop in centre within the Lewisham Borough. This is not only giving me experience but gives me a deeper understanding of mental health and how it affects individuals.

To other dancers out there who have the want/need to explore, I just want to say: it might be a very daunting experience to take that huge leap out of the dance world (it was for me, especially not knowing what career I wanted to do next) but it is the most exciting rollercoaster I have ever been on thus far. The person I am now is by no means the person I was or will be, when finishing this course. I really believe I have blossomed through this process, I'm by no means saying it is an easy ride and at times I have doubted myself but for the most part it has been fascinating and to have a support system behind me like DCD is a very special experience.

My aim one day is to help others like me, whether it be mentoring/guiding a fellow dancer or being able to give something back in some shape or form. Dancers are an incredible race, we are so versatile and our skills are endless, the one thing we seem to lack is a self-belief, which I hope, with the help of DCD and other organisations, we can help to change.

All these opportunities are giving me a wealth of knowledge, a deeper understanding and a broader outlook on life and I thank DCD for helping me achieve my goals so far. It's such a wonderful charity and I feel lucky that dancers have it available to them!"

To find out more about how we can help you, contact Ellen Chambers, Grants and Careers Officer, on ellen@thedcd.org.uk or 020 7831 1449.

You can support a dancer like Chloe to navigate career transition through the boundless appeal