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.
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.
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.
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.
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.