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Dance stars help own at gala.

NEW YORK CITY--When some of the nation's premier dancers take the stage at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse October 27 to raise money for Career Transition for Dancers, one gala committee member, Sono Osato, may recall the day in 1955 when she was faced with her transition. Concluding a successful twenty-year career which took her from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to American Ballet Theatre to Broadway, Osato became a full-time wife and mother, supported by her husband. "I was fortunate," she says. "I was not stopped in my career. I chose to end it myself."

In the era of Hula Hoops and McCarthyism, marriage may have been the only potential source of security for a female dancer at the end of her career. It was subversive enough for a woman to have one career, let alone two. For the dancer who was not supported, injury, age, exhaustion, frustration with financial instability, or even the simple desire to do something else were traumatic.

Today, dancers still face tremendous obstacles when they decide or are forced by injury or age to stop performing. However, they now have a resource that should have been invented with the plie. Career Transition for Dancers, founded in 1985 by Agnes de Mille and others, is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping dancers define and achieve their career options. The organization provides free career counseling, scholarships, grants for starting businesses, seminars, and a career resource library. It gives scholarships to approximately sixty-five dancers yearly. Between its Los Angeles and New York offices, it serves close to 1,000 dancers.

Services are free to dancers over 27, with at least seven years professional experience, including at least 100 weeks work as a paid dancer.

While their high school peers were perusing college catalogues and exploring potential career choices, most dancers were in the studio driving toward a dream that was born as early as age three. Says Suzie Jarie, director of client services at CTFD, "Dancers often state that there was no ad of consciously choosing a career, but that the dancing chose them."

With little money in the bank and a formal education foregone for dance training, a dancer may find that the end d a career can seem like a hope less time. It doesn't help that the attitude among those outside dance is often that dancing is not "a real job." But CTFD reminds dancers that they have transferable skills that most employers would salivate over, such as the ability to work independently and as part of a team, the ability to take direction, intelligence, discipline, persistence, motivation, flexibility, stamina, and being able to think quickly and under pressure.

Former dancers who have used CTFD can still be found in the dance world--as teachers, choreographers, arts administrators, and career counselors for dancers--and as far from it as possible, on Wall Street, as veterinarians, chefs, lawyers, and landscape architects. Many credit CTFD with helping them move into these new phases.

"I changed my life, but they certainly were the catalyst," says former Broadway dancer and choreographer Ron Young. "They got me everything I needed to get the job," adds Young, whose credits include dancing in the record setting 3,389th performance d A Chorus line. Today he hardly looks back and is thrilled with his job as a consultant at Merrill Lynch.

CTFD will unite the dance world and dance lovers for its cause at the gala, which will feature troupes ranging from Pilobolus to American Ballet Theatre. Board member Caroline Newhouse receives an outstanding achievement award. Newhouse got interested in CTFD through sculpting, in which she used dancers to model. "Their stories were so sac," she recalls. Newhouse and CTFD hope the gala will help make sad stories a rarity in the future.
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Title Annotation:fund-raiser for Career Transition for Dancers
Author:Zahra, Tara
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 1, 1997
Words:631
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