Our Stories - Emma Greenhalgh

"Think about the possibilities before you think of retirement."

Emma Greenhalgh trained at the Royal Ballet School before joining English National Ballet in 1990 as a member of the corps de ballet. She worked through the ranks and was promoted to Soloist. In 1999, Emma left the company and went on to work as a Principal dancer at City Ballet of London and then Soloist at K-Ballet in Japan.

DCD supported Emma with Financial Retraining Grants between 2011 and 2014 to help her to train as a Massage Therapist.

"I had had a wonderful career and after freelance work for about a year I made the very difficult and painful decision to retire from my all consuming dancer's way of life. It felt like the right time for me at this point in my life.

There was certainly a long and difficult grieving process. I had been dancing since I was five years old and grown up a part of two large dance institutions,- The Royal Ballet School and English National Ballet. It was daunting leaving an environment that is all that you have ever known!

After starting my 'new' life and not knowing which career path to choose for a very long time. I was reminded one day of a profession I always had great interest in as a dancer from suffering many injuries along the way and many hours of rehabilitation. I was receiving regular treatment for a persistent old injury and it reignited my interest in physical therapies.

I began researching therapy introduction courses at a college somebody recommended to me,- City Lit in Covent Garden,- and after completing several I decided that this was the career for me. I got in touch with Dancers' Career Development at this time on recommendation from an ex colleague of English National Ballet. He had begun his 'new' life and career with their funding and support.

I went to City Lit College for a year and qualified in Holistic and Sports Massage and recently gained a Practitioner's Diploma in Deep Tissue Massage,- all with the invaluable financial support of Dancers' Career Development. None of this would have been possible without DCD. I have also trained and qualified in Thai Yoga Massage and Pregnancy Massage, it is a never ending and fascinating learning process. I will be continually studying and updating my qualifications, there is so much to learn! City Lit provides amazing courses and great teachers. My Sports massage teacher was an ex dancer himself, a great teacher.

It certainly took me a lot longer than I expected to recover from, grieve for and begin again after my dancing career had ended. Looking back,- if I had thought and felt differently about the ending of my career I would have certainly begun to think of my future before retiring, though it felt right for me at the time and I don't have any regrets about it. Life doesn't always work out the way you planned it!

If you have some idea as to what you might want to possibly do after your dance career ends,- not always easy I know,- start to think about the possibilities before you think of retirement. It is such a short career and it goes so fast!

Because all I knew was ballet and knew I didn't want to have an associated career in dance,- I wanted a clean break. It took me a very long time to make a new path for myself. I got there eventually with the invaluable support of Dancers' Career Development.

Now, I practice my therapies at the Post Graduate Clinic of Neal's Yard, Covent Garden. I practice mainly Sports, Deep tissue, Holistic and Pregnancy massage. I am also continuing my studies and gaining more qualifications as I am building my new career. I am loving it! I have also trained and qualified in Thai Yoga Massage with the help and support from DCD, it is a never ending and fascinating learning process.

I run a Deep Tissue Massage clinic from The Bridge Complementary Health Centre in South Tottenham, mainly rehabilitation for clients in recovery or living with chronic health conditions and wheel chair users. And in April this year joined the Optimal Massage Therapy team.

I love my new career, thank you DCD!"

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

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