DCD recognised in 50th year with Dance Changemaker Award

We are delighted to announce that DCD has been awarded the One Dance UK Dance Changemaker Award in an award ceremony held at The Box at FarGo Village, Coventry, on Saturday 10 February 2024.  

We congratulate all those recognised with awards and nominations, it is an honour to be in your company.  

Executive Director Vanessa Lefrancois says:  

“We are delighted to have been given this award, in recognition of the ongoing impact and importance of DCD’s work across the dance sector.  

DCD is here for all dancers – from every dance genre, every background, across the UK and at every career stage – to offer career development support.  

We are thrilled to be a part of this year’s awards, celebrating the excellence and diversity in our sector, and offer our congratulations to all involved.” 

The Dance Changemaker Award recognises bold, brave, and impactful individuals or organisations that have driven progress across our dance ecology. This can include improving access to dance and championing diversity and inclusion. 

We are delighted to accept this award during our 50th Anniversary Year, and we dedicate it to the real changemakers: the extraordinary dancers we walk alongside every day while they take courageous and bold steps to create fulfilling and thriving post-performance careers, both within dance and beyond. It is a privilege to witness your journeys.  

Dancers’ Career Development 50th Anniversary Announcement

We are delighted to announce the commencement of our 50th anniversary celebrations, marking this milestone with a year-long programme of events, workshops and creative projects across the UK.

DCD was founded in 1973 – originally as ‘The Dancers Resettlement Fund’ – with the aim of providing career retraining support to the dancers from the then nine Arts Council funded dance companies. Today we proudly provide career development programmes for all UK professional dancers – from every dance genre, background and at every career stage. In 1993, DCD became the founding member of the International Organisation for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD). This network is dedicated to the interests of dancers as they transition into post-performance careers.

Today we announce “EVOLVE on Tour” – a series of live career coaching sessions and creative inspiration evenings for dancers delivered in collaboration with place-based partners across the UK. Each event will have a specific genre focus but will be open to all professional dancers and graduating students. This series begins with EVOLVE Birmingham in partnership with SAMPAD – a South Asian Dance focused event on Monday 2 October.  In 2024, there will be EVOLVE events in Swindon (Hip Hop), Leeds (Contemporary) and London (Musical Theatre).

Vanessa Lefrancois, DCD Executive Director, said:

“We are looking forward to celebrating our big 50th birthday together with our whole dance community – our partner companies, schools and conservatoires, dance agencies, funders, individual supporters, alumni and dancers from every dance genre.

This is an opportunity to celebrate everyone who has been part of DCD’s story for the last half century, and the extraordinary contribution to society that dancers and DCD alumni are making both within and beyond the creative industries. We’re proud to be co-creating the anniversary programme with such talented and creative dancers and alumni, as we look forwards to the future and reaching more dancers than ever before.”


Media Contact: 

Vanessa Lefrancois, Executive Director, Dancers’ Career Development. vanessa@thedcd.org.uk

DCD have been shortlisted for a Mission Include mentoring award!

We are hugely grateful to our wonderful professional Dancers for this nomination and are humbled to be shortlisted alongside the incredible competition.

Here’s what Moving Ahead had to say about our nomination:

‘We are delighted to announce that DCD has made the shortlist for the Most Dynamic Mentoring Organisation of the Year award as part of our Inspired by Mentoring Awards for the Mission Include programme. We have received a phenomenal response for our awards this year, and the nomination truly stood out. The nomination highlighted DCD’s ongoing commitment to mentoring through our programme and within your organisation.

Inspired by Mentoring Awards annually and the nominees have been voted for by the participants. This is a great opportunity to champion those who have given their all to the programme and their mentoring partners who are already seeing transformative changes in their careers.’

DCD’s Beyond Dance Mentoring for Dancers matches dancers with business leaders from under-represented groups, in a relationship to broaden horizons and explore career next steps. DCD invite applications from current or former dancers from all genres, looking for a supportive and confidential space to discuss and explore your careers.

Explore your next steps

If you are interested in our Beyond Dance Mentoring for Dancers programme and would like to find out more and apply, visit our Beyond Dance Mentoring for Dancers page by clicking here.

Support a future leader

We also invite organisations who would like to be involved in mentoring and supporting this programme to please contact dancers@thedcd.org.uk to register your interest.

Dancers’ Career Development appoints new Executive Director

Vanessa succeeds current Executive Director Jennifer Curry who is standing down on Friday 7th July 2023 following 13 years of service. DCD is the UK charity that supports professional dancers in their career development and transition to post-performance careers in an unlimited range of professions and sectors. DCD is the charity that’s here for every dancer – across every genre, across the UK, and at every career stage.

Vanessa is a freelance consultant working in the arts and cultural sector, with experience in senior roles including Joint Director and CEO of Oxford Playhouse; Artistic Director and CEO of the Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre, Somerset; and Director of Recreational & Prevocational Dance at The Place, London.

Vanessa spent the first 15 years of her career working internationally as a freelance choreographer and director for opera, theatre and dance companies. A Trustee of South East Dance, Vanessa also sits on the OxLEP Culture and Visitor Economy Sub-Group and Tourism Task Force.

Vanessa has an Executive MBA (with Distinction), Bayes Business School (formerly Cass); BA (Hons) in Arts Practice and Cultural Studies (First), Coventry University; and trained at London Contemporary Dance School and Alvin Ailey, New York.

Vanessa Lefrançois, incoming Executive Director of Dancers’ Career Development said:

“I am honoured to be entrusted to lead DCD, as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary and endorse its commitment to nurture an increasingly diverse spectrum of dance artists, across the UK.

The trials and tribulations of the past few years has highlighted the importance of this pioneering charity, dedicated to guiding dancers through periods of uncertainty, challenge and transition. As the dance sector continues to reinvent and transform itself, I recognise DCD’s resolve to be agile, remain relevant and responsive to dancers’ evolving needs and ambitions.

In collaboration with DCD personnel, partner companies and industry colleagues, I look forward to building on the success of DCD’s work under Jennifer Curry’s leadership, to support dancers from all genres and backgrounds: lead healthy, fulfilling and rewarding careers, in and beyond dance.”

Jennifer Curry, current Executive Director of Dancers’ Career Development said:

“It has been such a privilege to work alongside the exceptional staff team and freelancers, DCD Trustees, Committee members, as well as funders and partners across the UK to steward DCD over the past 13 years.

DCD is uniquely placed to model an important way of working for dancers and the dance sector – with kindness, responsiveness, humility and humanity at its heart. I have strived to lead the charity through calm and caring words and actions, and with a curiosity and bravery that befits a charity that is such a pioneer in its field.

Dancers are the heart of DCD and I will forever be inspired by the individuals I have worked with. I will continue to support the work of DCD and look forward to observing its next chapter with Vanessa’s leadership.”

Nancy Glynn, Chair, Dancers’ Career Development said:

“Jennifer has led DCD with great foresight and dedication over the past 13 years, making a lasting contribution to our organisation’s growth and impact in delivering high-quality support for professional dancers across the UK. She has built deep connections with beneficiaries, funders, and partners that will be cherished and nurtured for many years to come. We are grateful for all she has achieved and wish her continued success in her future endeavors.

We are delighted to welcome Vanessa as our next Executive Director. With her background as a contemporary dancer and choreographer, combined with her leadership experience in both the dance and theatre sector, Vanessa brings a unique perspective to DCD. Her understanding of the dance world and ability to navigate change will build upon our 50-year legacy. She also embodies the heart and spirit that is at the core of the charity. We look forward to working closely with Vanessa, our team, and partners to continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of dancers.”

The Nominations Committee was led by DCD Trustee Ida Levine and comprised of the following Board members:

Charles Glanville, Joce Giles, Sue Sloan and Jean-Marc Puissant.

Executive Director Jennifer Curry is to leave in July 2023 after thirteen years at DCD

Dancers’ Career Development (DCD) today announces that Jennifer Curry, Executive Director has made the decision to step down from her role after thirteen years with the charity.

Jennifer has made an extraordinary contribution to Dancers’ Career Development and to the wider dance sector – both in the UK and internationally in her role as President of the International Organisation for the Transition of Professional Dancers. Jennifer steered DCD’s response to Covid-19, ensuring that DCD was here to support more dancers than ever before at a time when they needed us most. She has built a vibrant organisation and a strong, dedicated team. She leaves with our gratitude and deep appreciation.  

Jennifer Curry says:

It has been a joy and privilege to steward DCD through a significant period in its evolution. I will step away in early July 2023, so I do hope that there will be an opportunity for me to connect with dancers, dance organisations, funders and supporters before then – so I can thank many of you personally for all of your support.’

Nancy Glynn, Chair of DCD’s Board of Trustees says:

‘Jennifer has made an inestimable impact on DCD during her tenure, significantly increasing its reach and impact on its beneficiaries. She has led with ambition and with care; with her belief in what dancers can achieve at the heart of every decision. She has built a committed team and leaves DCD in an extremely strong position for the future as we prepare to celebrate our landmark 50th anniversary year in 2023/24.

Recruitment for a new Executive Director begins from now, led by the Trustees on the DCD Board’s Nominations Committee. The role will offer the chance to join DCD at a transformational moment in our history, as we implement a new business plan 2023-2026. Our aim is to build on DCD’s legacy and core competence in enabling dancers’ transitions to post-performance careers, while continuing to help create a fairer future for all dancers – from every genre, background, at every career stage, and across the UK.’ 

Heather Lehan on her Beyond Dance Mentoring experience

I had the pleasure in taking part in the Moving Ahead / Beyond Dance mentorship program through DCD this past year, and I am so grateful I had this experience.

Common doubts

Like many, I was unsure whether it was the right time for me to apply for the program as I held the preconceived notion that I needed to be at turning point in my career. I also had the common doubts of whether I was experienced enough, if my plans for the future were formed enough, or if my season was just going to be too busy to begin a mentorship. Despite these hesitations, I decided there was no harm in applying, because the truth is there is no perfect time, but the sooner the better! 

The application process

The application process was simple – a short questionnaire from DCD about what you hope to gain from the program. Then, once connected with Moving Ahead, we were asked to fill in a mentee profile outlining our experience in various fields, our personality traits, and any skills we had or were interested in gaining.  Moving Ahead used this to match us to our mentor from one of over 300 participating companies. It felt exciting to be a part of such an extensive network. 

Industry connections

What I found most enriching about this program was the unique opportunity to make a connection with someone from a different industry. You have the chance to be matched with someone who is living the career you aspire to. They can guide and inspire by walking you step-by-step through their own process whilst sharing how they overcame their hurdles.  

A fresh perspective

My personal experience was excellent as my match was impressively suited. As a senior business and finance lawyer, she had perspective that I could not possibly have gained yet. She had even vocationally studied ballet in her youth and so she understood a lot of my lived experiences. Through discussion, we arrived at avenues I hadn’t considered before. Even though my plans for a post-ballet career weren’t solid, just having an idea of the field I am interested in was enough. We went through the steps together of research, writing letters to schools and applying to workshops. Talking about how to make my transition something I was excited to begin greatly helped the apprehension I had about the end of my ballet career.  

Taking the next steps

As well as speaking about my future, we spent equal time discussing my current career. We explored topics such as confidence, self-worth, difficult conversations, and personal progression. The value she placed on my transferrable skills as a dancer was hugely confidence building and I left each meeting feeling energized and excited by possibility.

Broadening horizons

Above all else, the accountability that the program provided for me was the most valuable. It forced me to carve out consistent time to think about my future and gave me someone to report back to on my progress and thoughts. This program is a gift to your future self, and I couldn’t recommend it enough!


Applications now open 22/23!

Are you a dancer who is currently performing or have you already retired from your career on the stage?

Are you looking for a supportive and confidential environment in which to discuss and think through issues regarding your career, and gain a fresh, new perspective of managing your career progression, work-life balance and growth?

Did you know this programme is open to both Independent and Company dancers?

Are you, or have you been a dancer with at least four years’ professional performing experience, with at least two of these years spent in the UK?

Then this programme is for you!

In partnership with Moving Ahead Mission Include, DCD’s Beyond Dance Mentoring for Dancers is a global cross‑sector mentoring programme with a proven track record in supporting future leaders to grow and develop alongside creating change and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Click here to find out more or click here for the application form.

Deadline to apply: 14th September 2022.

Heather Lehan is a dancer with Northern Ballet and is also a DCD REACH Ambassador. A huge thank you to Heather for her invaluable insight in to her personal experience on the Beyond Dance Mentoring for Dancers programme and her support as a REACH Ambassador.

Become a DCD REACH Ambassador

If you are interested in becoming a DCD REACH Ambassador or you would like to find out more about our REACH programme click here.

DCD Executive Director Jennifer Curry appointed new President of IOTPD

The Board and Associates of the International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD) have voted unanimously to appoint Jennifer Curry, Executive Director of Dancers’ Career Development, as President. 

Jennifer succeeds Paul Bronkhorst, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Omscholing Dansers. Paul has served as President of the IOTPD for over a decade, succeeding Founding President Philippe Braunschweig. During his tenure, the IOTPD has grown from six organizations supporting dancers through career transition to a community of 10 countries, spanning Europe, North America and East Asia. Since 2015 the IOTPD has awarded six Philippe Braunschweig grants each worth 3000 euro directly to professional dancers around the world. The IOTPD has also produced a toolkit for new transition programs and hosted numerous successful global conferences.  

Paul has worked tirelessly as an advocate for career transition for dancers and has pioneered the development and growth of the IOTPD. Paul will remain on the IOTPD Board as Executive Director Omscholing Dansers, based in the Netherlands, a founding IOTPD member country.  

Paul says: “Leading an organization like the IOTPD has always felt a huge privilege. And, although slowly, it is encouraging to see the growing number of countries that understand the concept and benefits of support to dancers facing the inevitable end of their performing careers. International collaboration expands the possibilities to empower dancers worldwide” 

Jennifer Curry is a senior leader in the dance sector with experience working with and for professional dancers spanning over a decade. She has been Executive Director of Dancers’ Career Development in the UK, the first transition programme for dancers worldwide, for over seven years. Jennifer will take up the role on 1st June 2022.  

Jennifer says: I am honoured and humbled to have been voted to serve the IOTPD as President. I look forward to working with colleagues around the world to continue to advocate for and directly support professional dancers throughout career transition. Through many years of dedicated service, Paul Bronkhorst has positively impacted the lives of thousands of dancers worldwide and on behalf of all Board and Associates at IOTPD we thank him wholeheartedly for his commitment and many achievements”  

About the International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers 

 The IOTPD was formed in 1993 with a mission to alleviate the challenges that professional dancers face worldwide when transitioning to a post-dance career. It strives to raise awareness of dancer transition and develop viable methods of meeting the needs of dancers across the globe. The IOTPD acts as an international umbrella organization coordinating with existing dancer transition centres worldwide to support research and advocacy initiatives, with the goal that every professional dancer will be equipped to make successful transitions.

Media Contact: 

Paul Bronkhorst IOTPD President
T: +31 6 11 30 22 30
E: PhBGrant@iotpd.org