LEAP Together Conference report

Toronto, Canada, 11–12 Nov 2016

LEAP Together: Career and Life Transitions in Dance and Sport was one of the key initiatives of a pioneering partnership between Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) and Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), and is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. 

The conference included a wide diversity of stakeholders from the sport and dance sectors to learn and exchange knowledge on various topics related to transition for high performers – professional dancers and elite athletes.

Topics and themes of the conference focused on the elite athlete and professional dancer transition experience, including:

  • Personal transition stories
  • Post-retirement mental and physical health
  • Transferable skills and prior learning assessment
  • Career counselling theory and practice
  • Balancing performance and well-being
  • Perspectives on career transition programs
  • Creating engagement with career services, education & employers

As an invited panel presenter, I had the opportunity to be involved in a discussion about career transition issues for dance, elite sport and the military in an international context. The representation of Australia on this panel provided the opportunity to share the findings of a recent research project I completed which was commissioned by The Australia Council for the Arts and five of the major dance companies—Career Transition—programs for professional dancers. This report ‘captures what current models and approaches are being utilised, with the primary aim of identifying key considerations for future models that could be developed and implemented in Australia, catering for the diversity of contexts in which the professional dance companies currently work’. 

There is a strong understanding and presence, and significant activity in North America and Europe in the dancer career transition space, and a range of discussions about future projects and international collaborations that will be of benefit to the Australian dance community going forward.