The story of Anna Seidl

After dance Anna chose an academic career

Anna Seidl has ended a 20-year dancing career, in which she danced in Germany, England and the Netherlands. She danced with the Dutch National Ballet from 1987 to 2007. Towards the end of her dancing career, she started studying German Language and Literature at the VU University in Amsterdam, and earned her doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in 2012. In which phase of the retraining process are you currently: I will be finished in August, which means my dissertation will be published and I am officially not a PhD student anymore, but a doctor of philology.

What is it that you love about dance so much?

I love to perform, I love to express myself by movement, I love music. Now that I stopped dancing I realize how much I loved to dance myself, but surprisingly I don’t have the same interest in dance any longer now that I am on the other side (audience).

Would you share one of your career highlights?

Of course all my years with the National Ballet were in a sense all a kind of highlight, but I especially remember my frequent guest appearances in London with the English National Ballet. I was invited to dance major roles such as Swan Lake, Sleeping beauty and Giselle. Especially my opening night at the Royal Albert Hall in London on a Saturday night with 3000 people in the audience was very special for me. Of course I was very nervous, but I thought if I get through this and also enjoy the performance I have achieved something for myself. I was lucky, I reached my aim and had the feeling that for a short moment I reached my audience.

What was your transition process like?

Lucky enough the transition went very smooth, because I had started in time to look into something new that I wanted to do after my dance carreer. Not only did I find a study that I loved, I also found very fast new friends and colleagues, but also had a son, who occupied me.

What has been your greatest challenge?

To catch up all those years that I had not been studying, but had more physically been involved in my career. Now I had to use my brains and learn to sit for hours behind my desk and my books.

What are you up to now and how did you wind up going this direction?

Now I finished my PhD,I have a job at the University of Amsterdam, appear at congresses and love all of it. Because my whole family is doing something academic, this step was not so strange for me. In my family I was more an outsider as a dancer, now I am one of them.

What qualities which you developed as a dancer are useful in your new career?

I think my discipline is one of the most important. I can keep deadlines, I am reliable and I can work with and in groups.

What did you learn from the transition process and what information/advice can you pass on to other dancers facing transition?

I think it is the best to start in time to look into what one wants to do after dancing. Only this way the omscholing can be used the best way and one doesn’t loose time trying many different things. Before one knows the 4 years are over and only then one knows what to do. I would really advice to take a good look into the new career before starting a course etc.

Why do you think it’s important that dancers can get support during their transition?

Financially anyway, but also in the sense of a career counseling. Most dancers don’t know what to do and need advice. Important is also not to fall in a black hole. The dance family is gone; one’s identity is gone and after all the stage is gone. In those times one needs new challenges and a lot of help by friends, family and professionals. Because the dance world is very exclusive. I for example met a totally different world outside, but was lucky to find my place in it. To be able to make the transition from the theatre to the university as I did, was perhaps a bit unusual, but possible with the help of the omscholingsregeling.


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