Celebrating 45 Years Supporting Dancers

Today marks 45 years of Dancers’ Career Development supporting dancers in their next steps beyond a professional performance career.

And what better way to celebrate than together with so many our incredible DCD supported dancers at our annual DCD Alumni Celebration drinks in East London last night.

Since DCD was founded, we have supported over 2,500 dancers across the UK, from all genres of dance. As well as supporting independent artists, seven of the UK’s leading dance companies partner with DCD and we continue to be the only organisation of our kind in the UK.

The History

Photo: Peter Williams OBE, (1914-1995) Founder, The Dancers’ Resettlement Fund

The very first meeting of the Trustees of the Dancers Resettlement Fund, as DCD was formerly known, took place on Friday 6 July 1973 – Peter Williams OBE was appointed Chair and Margaret Lawford confirmed as the first Resettlement Officer. The Fund’s Founder Patron was Dame Ninette De Valois.

Peter Williams OBE served on the Arts Council of Great Britain Advisory Committee on Dance from 1965, and an organisation dedicated to supporting dancers at the end of their performing career had been the principal recommendation of the ballet section of the Arts Council’s Opera and Ballet Enquiry 1966-1969. Following the enquiry, the Arts Council of Great Britain and British Actors Equity set up the Dancers’ Resettlement Fund.

The remit of the organisation at that time was to assist dancers employed by revenue funded companies in establishing a new career when they were no longer able to perform professionally.

The Resettlement Fund was the first of its kind and continues to be a blue print for transition programmes for dancers worldwide.

DCD Today

DCD now reaches more dance artists across the UK that ever before. As we look to the next 45 years and beyond we will continue to be revolutionary in our thinking and action as we advocate for the indisputable need for retraining support for professional dancers and the incredible impact that artists have on the world.

We are indebted to all those who have supported DCD since its founding.

If you would like to join us on our journey and help to ensure DCD continues for the next 45 years and beyond, please click here  or drop me a line at jennifer@thedcd.org.uk

A Tribute to Dame Gillian Lynne DBE

Today we pay tribute to former DCD Patron Dame Gillian Lynne DBE – a true inspiration to all those in the world of dance and a much loved supporter of dancers.

We celebrate Dame Gillian’s many incredible achievements and are truly grateful for her commitment to this charity and support for dancers going through the transition away from a professional performance career, including the many dancers who perform in the West End and are inspired by her remarkable energy and spirit.

Dame Gillian’s extraordinary work for DCD was invaluable, including for DCD’s Gala performance of “Cats”, and subsequent work on behalf of the charity, all of which raised substantial donations, later becoming a much valued Patron of the charity.

We remain forever indebted for Dame Gillian’s generosity.



Photo credit: @Gillian_Lynne

Supporting Dancers – Learnings from Across the Globe

Jennifer and I recently visited Berlin to attend the very first IOTPD (International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers) meeting focusing specifically on one to one support for dancers.

Over a period of three days, 18 representatives from 8 countries shared the different challenges they were facing, gave an overview of the one to one support they offer to dancers, and received training by a professional coach.

The discussion reaffirmed that dancer transition to a post-performance career is a unique experience, but with the right support can be positive and exciting.

It was fascinating to see how other IOTPD member countries provide such different services to dancers to support them in their transition. Here is a little overview:

  • In order to be better prepared for academic studies, the Korean Transition Centre (Dancers’ Career Development Center) have set up an Academy for dancers which offers pre-courses in Arts Management, Stage Management and Rehabilitation;
  • In addition to grants, the Career Transition For Dancers /The Actors Fund in America (The Actors Fund) offers individual career counselling to help dancers find and secure new careers; a Dancer Support Group, which helps dancers manage grief, loss and change; and a Creative Entrepreneurship Program, where business savvy dancers can widen their knowledge on the world of business and develop the skills that are needed for success;
  • The Canadian Transition Centre (Dancer Transition Resource Centre) offers counselling in five different areas: Academic, Career, Financial, Legal and Personal to support dancers tackle various difficulties that may arise on their transition journey.

We’ve come back with several great ideas on how to develop our transition support services for dancers further, and we look forward to continuing our important conversations with our international colleagues.

Thank you to Sabrina, Inka and Heike at Stiftung Tanz for hosting us.

Career Transition and the Demands of Parenting

A movement is happening in the world of performing arts, and at its front line is the Parents in Performing Arts Campaign. DCD has recently joined them as a proud strategic partner.

In their own words:

PIPA’s vision is of a world in which carers and parents are able to flourish in the Performing Arts at every stage in their career. The Industry benefits from maintaining a skilled, experienced and varied workforce.

PIPA enables and empowers parents, carers and employers to achieve sustainable change in attitudes and practices in order to attract, support and retain a more diverse and flexible workforce. By working in partnership we raise awareness, find creative solutions and promote best practice in the UK Performing Arts.”

As soon as I heard about PIPA’s work, it immediately resonated with me through the countless conversations I’ve had with dancers who are transitioning or considering transition to better fit with the demands of parenting.

But what if dancers could continue performing longer, if they wanted to, by being better supported and offered more comprehensive provision when they become parents? What if it were easier for them to return to working on stage? And a more suitable lifestyle for their family once they were back on stage?

Solutions are already being discussed and tested by some of the UK’s high-profile arts organisations including the National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and The Royal Shakespeare Company.

DCD attended PiPA’s recent Symposium, where participants from across the preforming arts discussed issues from fostering positive workplace cultures to practical arrangements to enable performers to continue in their careers. We’re also excited to see the results of PiPAs forthcoming research project looking specifically at dance, music and theatre.

To join the movement, or find out more, head to http://www.pipacampaign.com/


Photo credit: PiPA

The Next Generation of Dancers

Four years into running DCD’s Schools and Conservatoires Programme, it’s still fascinating to see the new issues and questions that young dancers bring up in the sessions.

Research shows that the earlier dancers give thought to their life and career post performance, the more successful and positive the transition, and the more fulfilling their lives might be – this is why we run workshops for dance students in their final years of training in schools and conservatoires across the UK.

We recently made our first ever first to The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, delivering sessions to students in each of the three years of study on the BA in Modern Ballet course which is delivered in partnership with DCD Partner Company, Scottish Ballet.

As well as building knowledge of the incredible range of transferable skills that dancers have, and the students’ individual personal qualities, the workshops also give the opportunity to hear about life as a professional dancer and beyond from some of DCD’s supported dancers, in this case Mikah Smillie, Eve Mutso and Araminta Wraith.

One particularly fascinating discussion came around the level of importance of social media presence and profile in getting work as a dancer. Long gone are the days when dancers barely engaged with technology. The internet is now firmly a part of society and indeed the dance studio. It’s a new challenge that’s being faced by the next generation of dancers who have grown up having an online presence, and all the pros and cons that come with that.

The conclusion of the discussion seemed to be that, although social media presence can be useful to increase a dancer’s profile and that of their company, it’s unlikely that they would get work simply through that – and so there’s no substitute for a great audition! Nor for the human contact and personal networks that are naturally built through a career. One piece of advice that almost always comes up from professional dancers to students is: “always be nice, because people want to work with nice people.” Advice that rings trues both during and after a performance career.

Some things never change.



Photo credit: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

A Global Perspective on Dance Futures

In March I was invited to speak at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in Madrid, Spain to contribute to an international conference on the future of transition support for Spanish dancers.

This was the third and last seminar of the project “Dance Futures – Creating Transition Schemes for Dancers and Promoting Sustainable Mobility in the Dance Sector”. This project, organised by the International Federation of Actors (FIA) and the International Organisation for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD) aims to put in motion the establishment of a professional transition scheme for dancers in three countries in Europe – Spain, Belgium and Hungary. The project is funded by the European Union.

Seminars such as this offer a critical opportunity for key stakeholders in the country to come together to discuss practical ways in which long term and sustainable support for dancers can be established.  We heard from Educationalists, Dance Company Directors, Government Ministers and dance artists living and working in Spain. We also heard from dancers who had navigated career transition with little support. There is clearly a strong will from many key players to establish a road map  towards a transition centre for dancers. No more so than César Casares from ConARTE and Danza-T, who is a strong and passionate advocate for all dancers.

During the days after my visit my colleagues were continuing the discussing with a National Conference on this subject. It will take some time, but I have no doubt that significant progress will be made, which will have inestimable impact the lives of dancers in Spain, the cultural sector and wider Spanish society.

I am always privileged to present on the work of Dancers’ Career Development (this time alongside my colleagues from France, Germany and Holland). 45 years ago, DCD was the first Transition Programme for dancers to be set up worldwide and we continue to play an important role in the global conversation. I see sharing our challenges and achievements as a critical part of our work, particularly when it results in new programmes being established.

DCD are able to do this work through the invaluable framework of the International Organisation for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD) which celebrates it’s 25th Anniversary this year. The IOTPD is the international network of organisations dedicated to offering professional dancers the resources and support they need when facing the end of their performance career. There are now 10 countries with transition programmes worldwide. One of the initiatives set up by the IOTPD is the  Philippe Braunschweig Grant.  This is an education grant for professional dancers who have had an international career and who don’t qualify for support from any one of the countries where they have danced. The next deadline for this grant is 30th April. Take a look here for more details:  http://www.iotpd.org/IOTPD-Philippe-Braunschweig-Grant.

The Evolution of DCD

Hello there. And welcome to our new look.

This new look and website, which we’re very excited to share with you, are a reflection of how DCD, and our support for dancers in transition beyond a performance career, has evolved.

Our new look is based on the concept of the core – the strength of the centre, a determined focus and the fact that we know that, no matter at what point they are in their lives, a dancer will always be a dancer. It is not what they do, it is who they are – to their very core.

Our new logo is a circular brushstroke of continuous movement, as there is in dance and in the life long journey of career transition, with DCD and our support for the individual at the centre.

Originally founded in 1973 as ‘The Dancers’ Resettlement Fund’, we changed our name to Dancers’ Career Development in the 1980s as a result of DCD expanding our work to support all professional dancers in the UK to successfully transition beyond a performance career.

This change reflects the more rounded service DCD offers to dancers in terms of sustainable, long term career development.

Over time, the balance has shifted and the support services that dancers are increasingly coming to us for are those around practical, emotional and psychological support, including upskilling, coaching and workshops.

This new website will make accessing our support even easier for dancers, and demonstrate to our partners how they can help change the life of a dancer in transition.

As we respond to the changing needs of dancers, by offering initiatives such as our new online networking platform DCD Connect (coming soon!), and creating paid work experience placements for dancers through our Career Insights Programme – dancers will continue to be at the core of everything we do.


If you would like to support DCD to continue to change the lives of dancers in transition beyond a performance career, click here.


With enormous thanks to all those who have contributed to the creation of this new look and website: Brand Designer Nat Cowx; Web Developer and DCD supported dancer; Greig Cooke; and including photographs by Photographer Karen Hutchins,  Patrick Baldwin and Caroline Holden and Photographers and DCD supported dancers Lindsey Brook, Tim Cross, Nicole Guarino, Rimbaud Patron, Pierre Tappon, Stephen Berkley-White,  Andrew Ross, Johan Persson and Tyrone Singleton.