Cable Man

Ballet, Career Transition, Counseling, Grant, Starting a Business, Uncategorized

Nathan Vander Stoep, Caroline H. Newhouse Business Grant Recipient

Nathan_the1too

I first met CTFD in a centerfold of Dance Magazine while flipping to an article written about the principals in my company, Colorado Ballet. I was young and it didn’t feel relevant at the time, but the grant money caught my attention for the future. A few years later as I was becoming less enchanted with my career, and was beginning to think about moving on, I remembered the advertisement. I made my first call to the counselors in 2006, and as we began delving into options, it actually renewed my passion for dance while simultaneously highlighting the importance of thinking about life after dance. I ended up performing another three years while expanding my extracurricular activities.

ImageI had played trombone from an early age and started taking amateur gigs. As I improved, I began getting professional gigs. However, I needed to know the music perfectly without rehearsals, so a good stereo system became imperative. As I put together the system, I realized the incredible difference that the wiring could make in the clarity and detail of what I could hear in the recordings. I did some research online and started building my own cables based on some ideas I formed from the information I had found. The results were fascinating, which became a topic in my next conversation with CTFD. The counselor mentioned that it could become a business, which hadn’t entered my mind at all. It was at this point when my relationship with CTFD became much more serious and instrumental in my future.

In general, I had never thought much of counseling; even in preliminary conversations with CTFD, I felt like the conversation wandered around a bit. That all changed now that I was interested in a specific topic. As a dancer, I knew nothing about business and suddenly I had a lot to learn. CTFD recommended finding a mentor through various channels, and this is probably the single most valuable prodding that I received. My counselor sent me a few websites to view, four of which were for local businesses and I could visit in-person. I had developed networking skills in the ballet world, so it was easy for me to start making connections with other business owners. I landed a mentorship in the HiFi Stereo industry while building my own business of designing cable products for home stereos, and over three years I learned the essential business practices particular to the industry. This was an absolutely invaluable experience and would not have happened without the guidance of the CTFD counselors.

During the counseling sessions, a frequent topic of discussion was how best to use the grant money. Education seemed like an enticing idea, especially since electricity was not something that I had ever studied beyond the university of Google. As my counselor and I discussed options, I also discussed it with my mentor, who ultimately made a suggestion with a result that still ceases to amaze me.

When I designed my products, I had focused on the quality of the product sonically as well as for durability. The results were a product that changed the sound of any system dramatically, and never failed, but they did not possess the jewelry-like cosmetics of my competitors. The cost of designing and manufacturing the parts needed were expensive and I didn’t see the point in extraneous parts that didn’t contribute to the sound. It was then that both my mentor and counselor pointed out my flawed logic.

My speaker cable sales were virtually dead; I had only sold three pairs over the previous year. I decided to design aluminum sleeves to cover the transition area on the cables. I used CTFD’s grant money, which covered enough parts for 30 cables, to get the parts into production.

That seed money completely changed the landscape of my business. Speaker cable sales increased immediately. As soon as the first sample cable was shown in the Japanese market, I had orders for 5 speaker cables within a week. At the end of a year’s time, I had sold over $26K in speaker cables alone, which allowed cosmetic development of the whole cable line. The company now has a distinctive look, and is growing rapidly.

With both the counseling and grants offered, CTFD has helped shape my life and formed a business that supports me in a way that I never imagined, and I am very thankful!

Visit my website (www.nvssound.com)

Connecting Life Sequences

and Spirit, Art, Career Transition, Counseling, Dance, Grant, Identity and Emotional Advice

cold color julio e  rivera  photo by erik alberg

By Julio Enrique Rivera, Caroline H. Newhouse Recipient

Transitions are the soul of the dance, connecting sequences of movement that allow for flow of clear and compelling expression. Transitions must have clarity, focus, and confidence for the fluidity and effortless connections. For a dancer, it is a joyous experience that makes the dance greater than the steps alone. And so it is with any transition in life.

I learned about effortless transitions early in life. Excelling in school, I always sought enriching opportunities by way of clubs, programs, and sports. I learned that discipline is key in any commitment and that focus and perseverance lead to success. I brought these tools from academic demands to the arts of theater and dance.

My most demanding transition was leaving to the vastness of Princeton University. Attending an Ivy League institution presented the expanse of a liberal arts education with great academic focus. Advance placement allowed me access to upper level courses forging a great course to exploring new horizons. I initially diminished my participation in the arts. I discovered new sports such as squash and tennis. My body longed to move as my mind was racing. I was transitioning once again. Then the arts returned! Women were now part of the student body and modern dance classes were offered with Ze’eva Cohen. Princeton also instituted a certificate program in theater and dance, and I was one of the first to enroll.

The next year, I was enjoying graduate courses in psychology and “jete-in” about campus. My first thesis melded these two loves, and it’s success jettisoned me into expanding it for my senior thesis; the perception of expression in movement.  My field work was: more dance classes at Princeton, the Princeton Ballet Society, and a scholarship at the Ailey school. I graduated with honors in 1976, I decided to postpone my interest in the Harvard clinical program to follow the more immediate call…DANCE!!!! I returned to Ailey’s and continue to dance knowing that one day I return to my interest in helping individuals realize a better situation through some kind of support.

By 1986 I had danced with myriad companies and choreographers. Early on I decided  to focus on traveling as guest performer, master teacher and choreographer. With support from Alvin Ailey, I founded Contemporary Motions as a venue to showcase my solo, duets and trio works. Fellow choreographers donated solo works I had performed, and I created a  new repertoire of solos, duets, and trios that I would present nationally and internationally until 2006.

In 2004, cancer presented yet another opportunity for transition in life. I returned to finish my contracts, then decided to retire with an excellent record to that transition in 1976. Nine years in full remission, and full of zest, I seek to return to my love of psychology as a life coach. Lynn Goldberg, a life coach for dancers introduced me to Coaching for Wellness certification program. It was the transition I had been waiting for. I enrolled and graduated in the Associate Level certificate program. With the assistance of the CTFD Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship, I will be able to continue my certification at the Professional level which allows me to participate with the highest credentials possible and work various niches as well as mentor and teach in life coaching programs.

somewhat hopng i was dreaming 6 2  rivera  photo alberg

How the Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship will bNoelleNaoneHeadshotring dancer-client and grant recipient, Noelle Naone, back home.

Growing up in Hawai’i, family or ‘ohana, was always the most important thing to me.  Factor in the amazing climate, the beautiful oceans and the colorful flora and fauna and you have the perfect equation for a happy life.  Life was made that much sweeter for me when my mother enrolled me in a hula school.  The music and movement filled me with a joy I had never felt before.  I was hooked from that very first class.  I had found something beside the magic of the islands that made me happy and that I was good at.  A few years later, I started taking ballet, jazz, and street funk.  I was as much at home in the studio or on stage as I was being at the beach and spending time with family.

Then one day something changed.  Although I loved my island home, I felt as thought I was not growing as a dancer.  I wanted to get off the “rock” and explore what the world had to offer me.  The opportunity presented itself when I was offered a contract at Disney World, Orlando Florida.  I was a part of the opening cast of Tarzan Rocks! choreographed by Jaime King.  That is where my journey began, one that would take me all over the US and the world, but would bring me back home…eventually.

Fast forward to the present.  I have been living in Las Vegas for 11 years.  In those 11 years, I have performed in numerous shows on the strip.  I have been married and divorced, and married again, happily the second time around.  I was able to finish my degree in Kinesiology.  And now, I am a certified Barre and Pilates instructor.  I have an 8 week old bundle of joy.  My Millie girl is the motivating factor behind my and my husband’s desire to move back to Hawai’i.

I cannot make a living as a dancer in the Hawai’i.   On top of the high cost of living, there are limited well-paying opportunities for performers.  My goal, with the help from the CTFD Newhouse grant, is to open a studio back home.  In the short-term, a grant will pay for a Megaformer certification.  This is a new apparatus developed by a classically trained Pilates instructor.  The certification will secure a teaching position for me at the only licensed Megaformer studio in Las Vegas.   My long-term goal is to bring the Megaformer to Hawai’i.  The first of its kind in the islands, my studio will offer dance, Barre, Pilates, and Megaformer classes

The most important thing that the Newhouse grant will allow me to do is to get one step closer to my goal of raising Millie in the paradise that I was fortunate enough to grow up in.  I have seen many places, met many different types of people, and experienced many different cultures.  But for me, nothing compares to the sights, sounds and smells of my island home.   More than ever, I long to be with my family.   I would like Millie to learn about her Hawaiian roots and to grow up with her cousins.  She may want to leave the islands one day, just as I did.  But, just as I do, I hope that Millie will always consider Hawai’i and her ‘ohana to be her home.

Career Transition, Dance, Fitness, Grant

Falling in Love with a New Endeavor

and Spirit, Ballet, Grant, Medicine, Pharmacy

Mary Slate Williams, 2013 Sono Osato Scholarship for Graduate Studies Award RecipientMary Slate Williams

My Mother says I started crawling before I learned to sit. I have always loved to move. My first love was not the music, costumes or audience. I did not fall in love with performing; I had never even seen a ballet. I fell in love with the work. I wanted nothing more than to sweat for hours in the studio with no audience. This left me, unsurprisingly, to be a rather dull performer. My senior year in high school our gala performance was Harald Lander’s Etudes. In the final movement doing a tombe coupe sauté, something clicked. I felt the music, the full force of the music and I began to really dance.
After just one semester in college, I became a trainee for the Orlando Ballet under the direction of Fernando Bujones. I danced for Fernando Bujones for four seasons. Being coached by Fernando was magical. You could work for days on a variation and then he could come in, give you three notes and the whole dance was transformed.
I injured myself shortly after Fernando passed away, I had surgery, my contract was not renewed, I moved to Chicago to dance, and moved again to Idaho. I kept dancing for four years after my surgeon had given up on me. I was sure my perseverance would eventually pay off. That is how the world is supposed to work. You just keep working, putting your heart and soul into something and eventually reap the rewards. Somehow along the way, I ran out of soul. I no longer enjoyed showing up to work every day. I no longer felt joy when I danced.
Although I have always been aware that a dancing career cannot last forever, I was never able to fathom what actually stopping dancing might feel like. I always assumed that someday I would have a moment of realization when I would fall in love with a new endeavor, and be every bit as passionate about it as I was with ballet. Instead, it has been more of a slowly growing swell. I searched in earnest for a new career, and I kept landing back at pharmacy.
My final season dancing people asked me with some regularity why I wanted to go to pharmacy school. My response was always “seems like a good idea.” There is a lot of truth to this flippant response. It seemed like a good idea, because it just felt right and even though I did not know it yet, it was absolutely one of my best ideas. Being a pharmacist is the perfect non-dancer job for me. It is emotionally inspiring, mentally challenging and I am always moving. I am continually amazed by the human capacity for love I witness while at work. I talk with people who have a loved one at home dying, who have just miscarried, who desperately need relief from depression. I am able in some small way to ease their burden. Pharmacists do much more than even I realized. Every day that I work in a pharmacy I learn something new and meet someone wonderful. I am currently working as a pharmacy intern and am entering my third year of a four-year Doctorate of Pharmacy program.
Entering a new profession has taught me a lot about how people develop professionally. In pharmacy school, I am not just learning about medications. Since beginning school, I have had meetings with roughly ten state legislators, served as the student liaison to the Washington State Pharmacy Association, given a speech to a few hundred and been challenged in numerous other ways. One of the most valuable things I have learned from pharmacy school is that careers have cultures. The culture of pharmacy is vastly different from the culture of ballet and I have gained much by being a part of both.
Career Transition for Dancers has helped to make this transition feasible by assisting me financially and supporting me emotionally. Stopping dancing is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. Career Transition for Dancers helped me to remember where I came from and where I was going. Working with Career Transitions for Dancers I felt valued and appreciated as a dancer in a way I have not for many years. I began working with Career Transition for Dancers after I had already made up my mind to transition. I wish I had contacted them earlier; they have so much insight and support to give.
An unexpected bonus, I now love dancing again! I thought by retiring from ballet I was losing the art form forever. Instead I feel like I have gotten it back. After about a year and a half of crying after each ballet class I woke up one morning healed. I do not know how or why it happened, but I finally arrived at the place where others opinions of my dancing no longer matters to me. I do not get to dance nearly as much as I would like, but what I lack in quantity I feel I make up for in quality. Taking class is not a chore, it is a treat and I try to dance every chance I get. I have even found some small performance opportunities. This summer I had the amazing experience of spending a day in a hospital IV room mixing medications followed by an evening on stage in a tutu with Boise Dance Coop. It was probably my proudest day.

Bradon McDonaldWe have a celebrity in our midst.  In the 12th Season of Project Runway (Lifetime), Bradon McDonald, a former dancer-client of Career Transition For Dancers, came in 3rd place!  What an achievement.  We are all very proud of him and recently CTFD’s board member Caitlin Carter phoned him in L.A. for an interview:

C.C. – Tell me about your dance career and how it all started.

B.M. – Dancers usually start at a very young age and I was no exception.  At six years old, I started with tap, then jazz, clogging with an Irish fiddle band, and modern dance at the New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I studied under the tutelage of Carolyn Adams and Julie Adams Strandberg along with Graham, Taylor, and Limón teachers.  For a teenager from a small, northern NY rural dairy town (Lowville), this opportunity and access to high art in essentially my backyard was amazing.  So that’s how it all started.

C.C. – And after high school, where did you go?

B.M. – My teachers told me I should audition for the Juilliard School and I said, “Well, I don’t do ballet.”  They said, “We’ll figure it out” [laughs].  So, I figured it out and was accepted into Juilliard right after high school.  During my junior year at Juilliard, I also apprenticed with the José Limón Company.  I started performing with Limón full time just a few months before I graduated.  I stayed with Limón for three years then auditioned for the Mark Morris Dance Group and was with that company for ten years (2000-2010).

C.C. – When did you start to think about your post dance career, when did those seeds start to get planted?  I mean, you’re smart enough to know that a dance career can’t go on forever.  Also, how did you go in the direction of fashion design?

B.M. – In high school, I studied fine arts.  In this small town, we had an amazing program that taught painting, drawing, and sculpture from 7th grade on.  I loved it and thrived in that environment and kept it going wherever I was.  After that point, I always had some connection with fine art.

I knew I wanted to dance, that was never a question.  It was a matter of how I was going to get the fine arts in there.  I decided to just dive in head first with dance – I could always have a fine arts career after my dance career.  So that was always the plan.

So when I was touring, I would go to famous museums around the world and buy fabric without knowing what I was going to do with it.  I was just hoarding fabric.  I felt like fabric was affordable fine art and the fabrics were paintings.  So my fiancé, Josh, bought me a sewing machine.  I taught myself how to sew and started making bags because dancers carry bags and I was living in NYC and everyone in NYC carries bags.  It was a great way to use the fabric by making artful panels, whether it was embroidery, different textiles together, in a cut out or collage kind of way.  Whatever technique I was working with I could put handles on that painting, mount the bag, and somebody would buy it instead of it just hanging on the wall of a gallery for people to say, “oh, that’s lovely.”

C.C. – So you have a wonderful fine arts foundation and then you have your dance.  And the fine arts foundation segued into actual bag design.  How did that morph into fashion design?

B.M. – Even before that, Paul Taylor for example, mixed fine arts with athleticism and that’s how he connected with modern dance.  That’s what happened to me in high school.  I was doing competition dance and I had this fine art background and then I discovered modern dance and I thought, “Oh wow, dance is fine arts on stage.”  Then the bags happened.  And then I started making costumes for a burlesque show in NY – it was my first time constructing garments from scratch and I did a lot of shopping at Home Depot.

C.C. – That experience probably set you up for Project Runway.

B.M. – It really did.  Working with a shoestring budget and unconventional materials makes you really resourceful!

C.C. – I’m curious as to how you heard about CTFD and how were we able to guide you?

B.M. – I knew about CTFD from Juilliard.  They told us about it in school.  And I attended a meeting that Mark Morris Dance Group hosted at their headquarters while I was still performing there.  I always had the organization on my radar.  So when I went to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in L.A., I applied for a grant.

C.C. – Wonderful!  And what did that provide for you?

B.M. – Tuition.  It went directly toward tuition.  That was money that didn’t have to come out of my pocket for repaying loans or interest on loans.

C.C. – Fantastic!  Was there any moment that was challenging during the transition and how did you handle it in terms of leaving your performing career.

B.M. – It was the idea of leaving performance and dance.  It was a petrifying idea because that’s what I had done my whole life.  Still, I retired at 35 from dance.  I felt like I needed to start a second completely impractical career while I was still young and dumb enough to do it [laughs].  If I waited any longer I might get a little smarter.  So, I thought, let’s do this.  Let’s do this now.  I scheduled my last performance with MMDG and 12 hours later I started at FIDM.

C.C. – Wow, and that’s great advice for someone who is transitioning.  It doesn’t work for everybody.  For some people, that might be a little daunting to walk away from the final performance and go right to school, but dancers need to be constantly inspired and challenged.  It’s good advice for people to set those goals and plans and move forward.

Did you have an “aha” moment where you thought you were going to be okay or did you question yourself, “Am I going to make it?” “Is this the right decision?”

B.M. – When you go back to school at a later age, you work harder because you want so much out of it.  It was a very intense schedule and in my head, I was telling myself that I had to start a new career now.  I have to hit the ground running when I finish school and I have to get a job in the industry.

C.C. – What qualities as a dancer or performer helped you the most as you transitioned into a new career?

B.M. – It’s the discipline, the drive, the focus.  It is the ability to work in groups, work with other people, work on a team, work for a demanding boss like Mark Morris, which taught me so much.  It is learning how to navigate those situations to bring out what is best for the work and what is best for the audience.

C.C. – So, why did you audition for Project Runway?

B.M. – I have watched the show since the first season and I have always loved it.  Partly because it shows how much work goes into making garments and I knew that from selling all these years.  For instance, it is completely improbable for a simple white t-shirt to exist: from grilling the cotton to making the yarn to selling it to a textile mill to knitting the fabric and then that fabric gets put into another textile distributor and then a company might buy that fabric to use and a designer picks that fabric and then a store picks that fabric and then it’s shipped to that store and somebody puts in on a hanger and hangs it on a rack and then you look at it and say, “$19 for a t-shirt?  That’s crazy.”  They should be more like $10,000 a shirt for the amount of work that goes in the simple white t-shirt.  That is fascinating to me.  I don’t remember the question you just asked.

C.C. – I asked why you auditioned for Project Runway [laughs].

B.M. – Years ago people would say to me, “you should be on Project Runway, you are so great.”  And I thought, “I don’t even know how to make clothes…are you kidding me?”  So through the process of going back to school, I thought maybe Project Runway would be in my future.  I started working in the industry and I saw that Season 12 was accepting applications and I thought what the heck.  What do I have to lose?

C.C. – What are your ultimate dreams and goals for yourself in this new career?

B.M. – I would love to start a label.  I would definitely go back to bag designs which are more than a hobby now.  The dream is to have a label that has men’s, women’s, accessories, home, and fragrance…the whole thing!

C.C. – What words of advice would you give to your fellow CTFD clients as they begin their transitions from dance into the many varieties of new careers?  What would be your words of wisdom?

B.M. – I think just finding things that you love and trusting that there is going to be a job related to whatever that is.  Whether it is fine arts, or design, or anything.  Dancers dance because they love it, they have to do it.  There is no other reason to be doing it.  It was scary for me because I never thought I would find anything else that I loved as much as dance and maybe nothing else that I could be as successful at, but my confidence is slowly growing with each accomplishment.

I would also say, do it today.

C.C. – Start planting those seeds now while you are still performing.  You can start by just doing that.  Go back to school on a part-time basis.  We always say that to our clients, but to hear that from a client first-hand just helps to reinforce that.  There is nothing more powerful than hearing from someone who has gone through it.

B.M. – I love the organization and I can’t wait until I have some money to support you guys.  I don’t get paid for being on Project Runway [laughs].

C.C. – We are working on getting an alumni group together and getting our former clients to get involved and give back, so we love hearing those words from you.  Thank you!

Career Transition, Dance, Fashion, Grant, Modern Dance

The Breakfast of Champions

Broadway, Career Transition, Counseling, Dance, Identity and Emotional Advice

K  Bernard Oklahoma! at Jupiter 91 compressedHi.  My name is Kevin Bernard.  I came to Career Transition For Dancers because of an epiphany.  I woke one morning and, as usual, sprinkled Advil over my Wheaties and sat down to eat my bowl of cereal with my feet in a bucket of ice.  And I thought to myself, I’m not sure this is what they meant by Breakfast of Champions.

I started performing professionally when I was 11 years old in Peter and the Wolf and I have been on stage ever since.  I’ve worked with Susan Stroman, Rob Ashford, Peter Darling…those last two guys really upped the Advil sprinkles by the way.  It was great, exciting, and thrilling to be part of Broadway.  But I decided I had to stop the pain.

That’s when I called Career Transition For Dancers.  I knew people, personally, who had discovered new careers and started businesses.  Sounded great!  So, I had a few counseling sessions, took some tests, and discovered what I was supposed to be next:  an actor or a musician.  Or a physicist.  Oh!  I was in trouble.

But then Lauren Gordon, the counselor at CTFD, came to the rescue.   She helped me understand that I am made of possibilities.  Now, I don’t see a clear path to take, but I do see opportunities.

Lauren saw my destiny as a collage.  Some acting, some music, some teaching, some stage managing.  I now finally realize that I don’t need a new label.  I just need to take a deep breath and leap.

Seth HoffScott Lowe, Caroline H. Newhouse Grant Recipient

I started dancing quite late (19), and sidestepped a more traditional career path, prepared by a very expensive engineering degree at Stanford, in order to dance. I have been immensely grateful that I had the impulsive courage to make that decision. Renewable energy had been my passion until I confronted fate and took the chance to be a dancer. While I did not have a clear idea of what a stage career would lead to, I have happily pursued a transition inspired by the humanistic focus of my performing career. The travel involved in touring shaped my perspective on the contributions I can make with my next career, and one year ago, I began applying to MBA programs with the intention of re-engaging my passion for renewable energy with an international focus. Touring as a dancer in Brazil was extremely challenging, but in the end, it showed me the possibility of truly revolutionary leaps in renewable energy. I hope to work in Latin America in this sector, coalescing the cultural and technical skills I developed in the complementary environments of science and art.

Seth Hoff

In the meantime, I was accepted to a prestigious program, ESADE, in Barcelona, Spain, which has distinguished opportunities to work on renewable energy projects.  The story of my journey as a dancer, including my articulation of the freelance artist as individual entrepreneur, was the basis for my application. Indeed, leveraging the skills endemic to a dance career—negotiation, working in close groups, creating opportunities when you can find none—will be a strength as I take my next career journey.

Art, Career Transition, Dance, Grant, Uncategorized

The gift of living—and making a living through—my passion

Ballet, Dance, Grant, school

Aaron Orlowski, Sono Osato Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies Recipient

Aaron in the Nutcracker, Photo by Greg Hughes

Aaron in the Nutcracker, Photo by Greg Hughes

Inspiration to dance struck me when I was young. At the age of five, my parents took my brothers and I to the movie White Nights. I was awe-inspired, enthralled with what Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines were doing on that bigger-than-life screen.  After the movie I told my Mom, “I want to do that. I want to dance”.  She enrolled me in ballet classes the next week.  That moment represented a spark in my life that ignited a desire, a catalyst for who I would become and who I am today. I will always be a dancer.  Ballet opened—and continues to open—numerous enriching relationships and experiences which enhance my life and skills in all areas.  From my very first class and throughout my training, my passion for dance and performing grew, nurtured and guided by great teachers.  This passion and discipline was especially instilled in me by my mentor Randy Wray.  He opened the door to the possibility that with hard work, passion and dedication led me to become a professional dancer and to the gift of living—and making a living through—my passion.

I started my career by dancing with Ballet Internationale for two years before accepting a Soloist position with Nevada Ballet Theatre.  NBT offered wonderful opportunities to progress and grow as an artist, but making ends meet often presented a challenge.  My wife and I undertook the difficult task of finding a company where we would not only both be hired but our artistic goals and needs could be met. We were fortunate to find that at Ballet West, and I danced there for seven years.  There are many skills and experiences from my career as a dancer that continue to serve me off-stage: teamwork, discipline, dedication, and attention to detail to name just a few.

Aaron Orlowski graduating from University of Utah

Aaron graduating from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree

Because the career of a dancer is all too brief, I realized early the importance of planning ahead.  I began my transition journey a few years before retiring from Ballet West in 2010.  During that time, I was honored to receive the Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship from CTFD, which allowed me to take classes at Salt Lake Community College and complete prerequisites for the University of Utah’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Program. While a full-time BSW student, I have taught ballet courses as an adjunct instructor at SLCC, worked at Starbucks, volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and interned with the International Rescue Committee. I am currently interning with Health and Human Services and still occasionally guest perform.  My transition journey has been challenging, rewarding, and worthwhile.

I graduated with my BSW in May, started on my MSW one week after graduating, and am currently in the midst of my graduate studies.  I’m in an advanced standing program with an anticipated graduation of next May!  Also, I am still teaching ballet and really value and enjoy teaching and maintaining my connection to the arts!  I am honored and grateful that CTFD continues to value my goals and greatly appreciate the support I have received in this next stage of my transitional journey.

Furthering My Education

arts administration, Ballet, Career Transition, Grant

David Strobbe, Sono Osato Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies Recipient

Tom Hiddleston once said that “Artists instinctively want to reflect humanity, their own and each other’s, in all its intermittent virtue and vitality, frailty and fallibility.”  This instinct to express ideas through dance with integrity has been a part of my journey as a dancer and now as an administrator.  My goal is to become a leader of an arts organization, encouraging artists to express their ideas, educate the public, and breakdown cultural barriers.

Michael Smuin's Fly Me To The Moon with music by Frank SinatraMy journey as a dancer started simply enough, dancing around the living room to music – the instinct to move that dancers have.  After four years of training, family pressure forced me to quit dancing to pursue undergraduate studies.  The desire to dance, however, was so intense that I returned to dance class after one year of college and became a professional dancer with the Hong Kong Ballet Company the following year.  In addition, I danced with Cleveland Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Smuin Ballet performing leading roles all over the world.

After 16 years of dancing professionally, I transitioned into the artistic administration of Smuin Ballet as Ballet Master.  When I met with Founder and Director Michael Smuin to discuss my retirement, he said, “No, you are more than just a dancer here.”  He got up form his chair, hugged me, and let me walk out of the room still a part of his family – Smuin Ballet.

That was the last time I saw him.  He died in the studio two weeks later.  Becoming the Ballet Master was the hardest event in my career, but I knew that Michael was behind me all the way.  Supporting my fellow company members while still maintaining Michael’s vision was tough, but using my natural leadership skills, we were able to succeed with extraordinary reviews in New York only four months later.  It was at this point that I knew I had found my calling; to lead artists in a way that will bring out their very best and nurture them to grow as artists.

I currently work in the Rehearsal Department at the Metropolitan Opera.  Branching out into different forms of performance art has enabled me to expand my horizons while at the same time still helping to support artists to be the best they can be on of the world’s biggest stages.

At this point in my career, my desire is to further my education and obtain a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Baruch College.  This will provide me the additional skills needed to reach my ultimate goal:  leading an international arts organization.  I wish to help build an organization with outreach that will go beyond the border of our country; preserving the integrity of the organization’s mission while not compromising the artistic ideas and forms of expression.

My journey from dancer to administrator to leader is one of excitement, hope, instinct, and determination.  I am looking forward to the next step in my career, which will be aided by the skills that I hope to learn in Baruch’s Graduate Program with the support from the Sono Osato Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies.

A CTFD Experience and Giving Back

Broadway, Career Transition, Dance, Grant

Mikala Freitas, Caroline H. Newhouse Grant Recipient

Mikala Freitas

Without the support from  Career Transition For Dancers, I would have never found the balance between work and dance. The grant I received from CTFD allowed me to complete my Pilates certification while I was performing without any additional financial stress.

My dance career has literally taken me all over the world, performing on 6 of the 7 continents (when Antarctica needs dancers, I’m ready to go.)  Beginning in the early 1980′s, I performed on cruise ships, appeared in films, television, pre-Broadway workshops, industrials, benefits, opera, and musical theater, plus choreographing productions of Oklahoma, Hello Dolly! and Footloose.

The most important thing I learned from CTFD was that I did not have to give up dancing all at once to start a new career.  The grant I received assisted me to continue dancing while supplementing my income with a career in Wellness i.e. Pilates, Yoga, Massage and Biofeedback. Today, my supplemental income is my full-time career even though I still continue to dance and choreograph on occasion.  It also has allowed me to support other dancers by giving annual scholarships back to CTFD.

I strongly encourage other grant recipients to give back to CTFD to foster the growth and support of future dancers in transition.  It is never easy to imagine a life after dance and I would argue that CTFD showed me that I never really have to put dance behind me, by continuing to give scholarships, and watching others transition, I am still an integral part of the dance community.