From dancer to broker, ski instructor and pharmacist. Get inspired by the story of these three power women, on and off the stage.
My name is Vivian Sauerbreij and I am an ex-dancer of Introdans. For 11 years, I had a remarkable career at Introdans. Still, a dance career ends, and I’ve reached that point. You are going to say goodbye to a passionate job, and you are going to take a step into an as-yet-unknown future. This step is, on the one hand, sad and, on the other hand, fascinating and unique to start a new career.
At this point, you are faced with a difficult choice of what to do and where to retrain. An excellent choice because you have the world at your feet and can start over again. But also a difficult one, because you have lived in one world for so long with passion and love, you have to get out of it now.
After thinking about and researching what I like besides dancing and what I am like as a person, I came to a charming and completely different direction. I want to retrain as a real estate agent. I have always had a love and interest in houses. I always watched programs about it, I was fascinated by the places I walked past, and I always wanted to sneak a peek inside. How was it built, how big is it inside, how is it laid out, and how much would it cost? In short, it always caught my attention. I never did anything with it because I didn’t have time for that with my busy career. So I studied it further and spent a day with a broker on the advice of the retraining fund so that I could make a choice.
In the meantime, I have started my study and am thrilled to have chosen this direction. It’s an entirely different story, but oh so nice to develop that side of me and to know that I have more talents than just my beautiful dance talent. The retraining fund has helped me a lot during this whole process. I had the opportunity to have many conversations with them, and they gave me insights about myself that I needed to make a choice. Their support has led me, among other things, to the choice I have now completed.
What I am forever grateful for is the discipline that I have been able to learn throughout my dance education and dance career. I will never let go of this discipline and take it with me into my future, my new job. This is something so special, our drive and resilience as a dancer is so strong that I will benefit immensely from it during my studies and with my new job.
I am currently receiving support from ODN to follow a self-directed study, specifically to train as a certified ski instructor, secondarily to further expand my competencies in winter and summer backcountry travel, leading towards becoming certified as a guide.
This study feels very close to my heart, to my nature. I have danced my whole life, leaving home to study at a professional ballet school at 13 years old, and simultaneously, at heart, I am a mountain girl. The only thing I’ve ever questioned in dance as a career is why it led me to spend so much time inside. As a choreographer, much of the dance work I have created over the years has been focused on that dichotomy, trying to build a bridge between my deep-rooted love of nature and the mountains and attempting to access what we experience in these situations through dance. These new studies are allowing me to connect to the mountain environment in a very direct way.
As a dancer, my attempt has always been to allow others to feel with me – we talk in dance about the ability to awaken kinaesthetic empathy. In teaching skiing or leading a group into the backcountry, it is the same sense of feeling something out of the ordinary (extraordinary) that you are hoping to awaken in people – to help someone experience something they did not think they were capable of.
I’ve always thought of myself as a movement nerd; I love being able to puzzle out how one movement can work in different ways on different bodies but achieve the same desired outcome. This is a similar puzzle in teaching dance as in teaching skiing. Any dance students I have worked with over the years will recognise my favourite motto – soft knees! Well, that applies to skiing just as well!
The guidance from ODN has been invaluable. I have felt encouraged to follow my curiosities and recognise when something does not connect with me. The support from ODN has helped give validity to trying something new, which is huge. When something has validity, you feel you are able to invest in it, and this investment makes it real.
ODN also supports an ongoing process, recognising that when you have spent your whole life in a profession such as dance that for many of us is so deeply connected to who we are as people, learning something new outside of the dance field (far outside!) is not a one-step event.
Before I started working with ODN, I had often thought that the organisation had a black-and-white approach to a career transition – that you had to leave dance behind you to move into something new. In my case, I am not finished with dance, but making space and investment for these recent studies to flourish is allowing me to build new competencies that can be tied together with dance in creative and unusual ways. The support from ODN is helping me to recognise that I am building a toolbox, a new set of skills so that I can work with combined passions, thinking outside of the box in terms of how these passions can come together. In dance, we are privileged to see the world differently – perhaps upside down or a little sideways. This can allow us to build connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, and the support of ODN helps me see ways in which I can connect these unusual fields.
One of our talents as dancers is the continual practice of allowing our vulnerabilities to be on display. We spend years training ourselves to build a direct connection with other people. This ability to empathise and connect is not something to be taken for granted. Through dance, I also understand how inherently smart our bodies are. Training the ability to listen to this in different circumstances is part of a dancer’s skill set that is useful in many situations. There is also curiosity and desire to be constantly learning that I recognise in many dancers. Sharing that desire to be actively learning and helping stimulate others to be in that state of curiosity is something I carry from dance and wish to bring further in the world.
When I was young, I never thought I would have the chance to become a professional dancer; it seemed like one of those dreams that only happened in movies.
I started studying pharmacy right after high school while pursuing the dream of a professional career as a contemporary dancer. Now, after 16 years and an incredible career on stage, I’m again back as a pharmacy student.
Since I was a child, I grew up in a pharmacy environment: my grandparents and my father have all followed this path, and I always hoped I could one day do the same. Being a pharmacist requires analytical skills, detailed chemical knowledge, and a human approach toward the patient. This combination also reflects competencies I have acquired in my years as a dancer: how to communicate heart to heart with an audience while developing specific, almost scientific knowledge of the body and choreography.
I always had clear ideas about what to do after my dancing career, and the ODN has always accompanied me in this choice. Now with their help, I can fully dedicate my time to the study without the worry that I might not be able to afford them.
I can’t wait to complete a path I had chosen such a long time ago, bringing with me into the future the invaluable experience of a beautiful dream that came true.