Danced: for the past ten years with Dance Works in Rotterdam
Retraining: two years of Schoevers and one year as office manager with NCOI
Employed: since 2008 as application administrator with Het Zaantheater in Zaandam
Dream: to continue to develop in theatre organisation
‘I’ve always been really motivated in my work. Where else could I find that motivation?’
‘In my last year with Dance Works, I slipped a disc and couldn’t dance any more. I was thirty. I would have found it difficult to make the decision to stop myself. But when it was clear I had to stop, I knew that I wanted to leave the dance world and not teach or start up a dance school. I wanted to develop another aspect of myself.
I thought about it for a year – and I really needed that time. It was a year full of hesitation and I didn’t know what I wanted. It’s a huge transition. I had done what I wanted to do from the age of seven until I was thirty. What now? I’ve always been really motivated in my work. Where else could I find that motivation? I started by looking at those thick books of training courses and professions. Everything was suddenly open to me; anything was possible. It was a big opportunity; one that I wanted to make the best of. I realised, especially through talking to Paul Bronkhorst, that as a dancer I had qualities I’d not been aware of: my drive, the desire to do things well and immerse myself in them, an inquiring mind, and the desire to learn.
I didn’t know much about life outside dance. What were Word, Excel and PowerPoint? I hadn’t a clue. I wanted to master those things – as a sort of stepping stone for understanding the world. Then I thought “why don’t I just do Schoevers (secretarial college)?” Now I have two certificates: management assistant and executive secretary. Last year, I started office management with the NCOI. I’m still doing that, alongside my work.
Last year, I started work as an application administrator with the theatre. I realised during my training already that I wasn’t suited to a job in a bank or big company. In its environment, this job is similar to what I was doing before, but the work itself is completely different. The passion I was looking for is something that people have there too, and that’s really great’.
Danced: ten years with Introdans in Arnhem, and before that in England, Switzerland,
Germany and Italy.
Retraining: two-year course at the Miami Ad School in Hamburg
Dream: to work as a copywriter
‘Dancers think about dancing; they don’t see it ending’
‘I want to be an example to other dancers; stopping isn’t frightening’
‘I always knew that I didn’t want to dance all my life. But many dancers are frightened by stopping. I thought “So long as I don’t end up in front of a computer all day”. Now I’m in front of a computer all day – and I think it’s great. The careers advisor is an expert in guiding dancers. He doesn’t say much – it’s your own decision. But that’s what’s so brilliant. When I knew what I wanted, he helped with all the practical matters. As I’m British, there was a lot to arrange.
After visiting this ‘Ad’ school, I was enthusiastic straight away. It was crazy and creative. In two weeks, I put together a portfolio and was accepted. In June of that year, I stopped dancing and in October I started the course. The advertising world is creative, exciting and obsessed with winning prizes. Within a year, I’ve already won two, including the Top Dog Portfolio Award, which is given to the best student with the most prizes and highest marks at school. I’m ambitious.
At first I thought “I’m a dancer. I won’t be any good”. But the drive and passion I had as a dancer are qualities I have here as well. And as a dancer you have to work with other people, even if you don’t get on with them. That’s something I do well at school, too. You usually work in a team of two: the art director and the copywriter – that’s me. This would never have been possible without the Omscholingsregeling. Dancers think about dancing; they don’t see it ending. I work really hard at school – because I want to succeed, but also because I want to be an example to other dancers; to show them that stopping isn’t frightening. I don’t miss dancing at all. Soon I’ll be going to Paris for a work placement – it’s crazy!’
Danced: six years with Introdans in Arnhem, and before that in Austria and Germany
Retraining: three-year drama course at De Trap in Amsterdam.
On the side: gives dance classes to toddlers
Dream: to perform with theatre group Orkater
‘When I’d just stopped, I thought I couldn’t do anything except dance’
‘I’ve now learned that we dancers have something extra. It took a while though. When I’d just stopped, I thought I couldn’t do anything except dance. I stopped because I had a baby and you can’t combine the two. I’d danced for six years with Introdans, and before that in Austria – where I come from – and Germany. Unfortunately, those dancing years don’t count towards the Omscholingsregeling, so I only get a refund of the study costs.
Then I went to see Paul Bronkhorst. There were a lot of changes all at once, and I took a year to think things over. I followed a reintegration course. Every so often, I had a talk, and that helped me a lot. I had no ideas. Paul asked me “What do you want, what can you do, what’s possible?” For the main part, he gave me self-confidence. As a dancer, I’d known what I wanted to do since I was five: to dance. That’s clear, and it’s also easy. You don’t have to take much initiative yourself; everything is set out for you and runs in a structured way. And suddenly when you stop, you’re free. The talks nudged me in the right direction. Paul always said “It’s better to do something you’re passionate about”. Because that’s what we’re used to. Knowing that really helped me.
After the talks, I dared to admit that theatre really is my life. Then I decided to do the part-time drama course. I wanted to learn how to express myself in words as well. Language terrified me, but now it’s going well, after a year on the course. After this, I want to do something with physical theatre, so that I can combine both. As dancers, we’re used to delivering things quickly and in a disciplined way. If a teacher says something, you do it. With drama, I sometimes have to put up more opposition. Twice a week, I give dancing classes to toddlers on the side – here in the neighbourhood. That came about by chance. I was looking for something for my two and a half-year-old daughter, and couldn’t find anything. So I just started up for myself’.
Danced: twenty-five years; mainly as a freelance dancer and choreographer of his own productions in the Netherlands, and before that in Spain and Germany
Retraining: three-year course at the European School of Physiotherapy in Amsterdam
In employment since: 2008 as physiotherapist in Amsterdam with Kirchhoff Fysio
Dream: his own physiotherapy practice in combination with yoga classes
‘I tell other freelance dancers now: watch out’
‘I started my dance training in Barcelona. After that, I danced in Germany with the dance theatre in Münster and with Reflex in Groningen. Then I went to Amsterdam as a freelancer. I created many of my own productions, danced with various groups and won several awards. I specialised in combining dance, music and singing. I kept dancing till I was forty-two. I’d then been dancing for twenty-five years and thought it was time to stop.
I’d always been interested in physiotherapy, so I knew what I wanted to do. I had nearly everything paid for over those three years: maintenance, study books and work placements abroad. It’s really great. I had to pay a little extra myself because some employers didn’t pay premiums for me even though they had agreed to. I tell other freelance dancers now: watch out. Dancers are naive. They think that everything will turn out alright. The arrangements in the Netherlands are really exceptional; it’s a paradise. I did work placements in Costa Rica and Madrid to see how they do physiotherapy there, to compare it. I learned a lot.
I found this job through the Amsterdam dance school Dancestreet, which was linked to a physiotherapy practice. My background was a real advantage; I knew about anatomy and injuries, and I’d spent a lot of time in physiotherapy myself as a dancer. Now I have a permanent contract – I opted for security. Alongside my job, I’m taking a citizenship course and learning Dutch, in order to integrate more into this society. In about five years’ time, I’d like to set up my own practice, with physiotherapy and yoga’.
Danced: eight years: five years with Introdans in the Netherlands and the last three with Tanztheater Nürnberg in Germany
Retraining: two-year course in interior design at the Artemis Styling Academy in Amsterdam
Dream: styling for photography for magazines, such as Wallpaper in London
‘I’m starting something really new. That’s great’
‘It wasn’t long before I knew what I wanted to do. First, I was thinking of a photography course, but I realised that I wasn’t really suited to a photographer’s life. Then I went to an open day at Artemis. I’d always been interested in interior design and photography, and I really liked that combination. When I went there, I knew immediately. I didn’t want to waste any time and I started straight away.
During the time I danced in Germany, I made an arrangement with the Omscholingsregeling whereby I could continue to pay the premiums for the allowance myself, so that I retained my entitlement to the refund of my retraining costs. Actually, I should have kept dancing for another two years in order to make full use of the scheme, but I had to stop earlier due to a knee injury, so they made an exception. The careers advisor made a deal with Germany, so that I still receive benefit there.
In lessons, I notice that I have an advantage in some respects. I can work in a very goal-oriented way. I enjoy doing that. I know where I want to go. As a dancer, your work is also based on passion. And I notice that I’m good at compositions. It’s often obvious to me how things should be arranged on a photo. What I’m doing now is also very hard work; subconsciously I seem to have chosen for that again. It’s only now, after a year has passed, that I sometimes feel I miss dancing and the dance world. In the mornings, for instance, I miss the piano accompaniment to the classical class.
I still have a year to go, and I’m really positive. This summer, I helped the teacher from school who works as a photo stylist, to see how it works in practice. Now I’m doing a work placement and I’ve made my own website. I’m starting something really new. That’s great. I’m really looking forward to the future’.