Category: Uncategorized

Always Learning, Always Striving

Angel Zvetanov
Photo by Angel Zvetanov

by Boyko Dossev, CTFD dancer-client, Caroline H. Newhouse grant recipient, Sono Osato Scholarship for Graduate Studies recipient

My name is Boyko Dossev and I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. I was a little kid at the age of two, when my parents went to work in Mozambique and my brother and I had the time of our lives for eight wonderful years in this beautiful, exotic, very poor, yet full of life, African country. I was deeply influenced and impressed by its culture, dance and traditions for the rest of my life. When I turned ten, we came back to my native Bulgaria and I discovered my passion for dance. I spent every day of the following eight years learning how to turn, jump, partner and dance at The National Ballet School in Sofia. I am still learning how to do that today. Not that I haven’t learned it, but in ballet, you spend your entire life always learning, always striving for perfection.

Photo by Angel Zvetanov

I was fortunate that I was able to complete two years of schooling in one and then be able to go at age of eighteen to Paris, where I continued to learn while dancing with Le Jeune Ballet de France. After a year of hard work, many auditions and many ups and downs, destiny took me to Germany. There, I had the chance to work in some of the most beautiful Opera Houses in the world such as the Semperoper Dresden and with one of the most celebrated and famous choreographers of our time, John Neumeier. Learning was something I did there too. Lots of it! While continuing to master my craft, I was able to complete and earn my Bachelor’s degree in Ballet Art and Ballet Pedagogic and Master’s in Choreography from The National Music Academy “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” in Sofia, Bulgaria. Before coming to the United States, I had lived and worked in Africa, Bulgaria, France and Germany. I feel lucky yes, because I feel I belong to the world.

Photo by Angel Zvetanov

At the age of twenty-five, after a tour in the United States with the Hamburg Ballet, I felt that as an artist and a dancer I needed to discover more about life and the world around me. I left the security and comfort of my job behind and began a new, exciting journey; I came to America and joined Boston Ballet.

Here in the United States thanks to some very generous individuals, Career Transition For Dancers and Boston Ballet, I have the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and skills through the Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication Program at Northeastern University. I want to obtain the knowledge and skills to be able to run my own company one day; to communicate and lead with success. I am envisioning a model that would be very similar to the structure and logistics of Cirque du Soleil. My vision is to blend artistic integrity and financial success. This program is the right one for me because it will give me not only the knowledge of how to do that, but also teach me how to better communicate with people and other organizations. I will also be able to gain important and essential skills through the Social Media and Online Communities concentration. I think such skills are fundamental for any company and organization that wants to be successful.



Skill, Passion, and Destiny

by Jason Herbert, CTFD dancer-client and Newhouse Grant Recipient

Jason Herbert

A decade ago, I embarked on a career in dance that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.  Traveling the country and the world, I performed for thousands of people and worked with artists that inspired me.  It was during my time with The Philadelphia Dance Company aka Philadanco! that I was introduced to Career Transition For Dancers.  CTFD explained all of the possibilities for dancers transitioning into careers and how to utilize all of the skills that dancers possess.   Because they offer entrepreneurial and educational grants to artists who have worked in the field for a number of years, I recently applied for the Newhouse grant (and was awarded!) to jump start my career in video production.

I started a company with two friends that develops, produces, and manages artists in music, theater, and film.  I dove straight in as a Project Manager and an Artistic Consultant.  Some of my duties include recording, photo shoots, video shoots, social media, and video production.  In my travels as an artist, I noticed I had an eye for video editing upon returning from a tour of Europe.  My business partner encouraged me to pursue it on a higher level.  We both enrolled in an advanced course in digital editing at the New York Film Academy where I progressed quickly but didn’t have the equipment at home to practice or perfect my craft.  One thing I learned from dance is that your tools to success is just as important as your drive and determination.  A high-powered computer and up-to-date editing software is essential to starting a career in video production, two things I didn’t possess nor could afford.

From the stage to the screen, I will transfer all my knowledge and passion as a performer into my videos with skill and education behind me.  I am at a place to carve a new destiny with my experience in dance as my foundation.

Round Three

Photo by Lois Greenfield


By Camille M. Brown

When I was still in grammar school, I fell in love. The moment I saw Maya Plisetskaya perform with the Bolshoi Ballet I knew I wanted to be a dancer. I scrawled manifest destiny across my bedroom wall with an arrow pointing to a picture of red point shoes. My parents thought my love for dance would wane, but that passion became the driving force focusing my college career. After transferring from San Francisco State to U.C. Berkeley, I changed my major to Dance. I held my mother hostage by threatening to drop out if she demanded I double major. I graduated with a B.A. in Dramatic Arts /Dance after receiving both the Horence Schwimely Scholarship and the Eisner Prize for creativity in the highest order. I immediately moved to New York City. My dream became a reality when I joined the Martha Graham Dance Company. Eventually, I became a soloist and rendered many roles, worked with guest choreographer Twyla Tharp, and toured the world with the company for 6 years. In 1995, I was invited to audition for the Broadway revival of the King and I. As an ensemble member, Gold Ballet soloist, and understudy, it was my privilege to work with Lar Lubovitch on that production. And I am proud that I was an original company member of The Lion King.

But a dance career is ephemeral. So, I began to explore new avenues with Career Transition For Dancers. I wanted to spark that same tinderbox of passion and have that same feeling of certainty. But in truth, I was also paralyzed by fear. Even with the help and resources at CTFD, it took a long time to find the right path. I received the Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship and used part of those funds to become a licensed real estate sales person. I began working with Weichert Realtors while still performing at The Lion King. Real estate was not a fit. What I finally realized was that my transition was right under my nose. A pattern of interest in both TV production and writing was clear. That interest drove me. I sought an internship with casting director, Ellen Parks. As her office assistant, I witnessed the pre-production of Flirting With Disaster. At Harvestworks Digital Media Center, I studied editing. And I begged my way into a PA position on set at The Insider filmed from the lobby of The Lion King. Similarly, I’ve been writing as long as I’ve been dancing. Through continuing education at NYU, I explored playwriting with Academy Award winner, James Lecesne. With Matt Hoverman, I mastered the one-person show form. At the People’s Improv Theater, I learned sitcom writing from Sarit Catz.

In the fall of 2013, I drew down the remainder of the grant after being accepted into the MFA Program for TV Production at Brooklyn College. This summer I was thrilled to receive the Sono Osato Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies. The scholarship will be applied toward my final year at Brooklyn College. The MFA in TV Production is a two-year TV production boot camp. This past semester I conceived content, filmed, edited, and wrote a lot of papers. In the fall term, I will be tackling multi-camera production, writing for TV, and documentary.

Oddly, I felt ready to move on because of the assistance from CTFD. At my age, most people might be thinking about retirement. But I feel that I’m just warming up for round three.

Cable Man

Nathan Vander Stoep, Caroline H. Newhouse Business Grant Recipient


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 (

The Definition of Energy

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.

Effortlessly Experience 2013

Jim Arnoff, Career Coach & CTFD Consultant
Interviewed by Dana Lutt, CTFD Communications Coordinator

Q. Tell us about your entertainment background.
A. I graduated from the Institute for Professional Empowerment Coaching (iPEC) in August, 2005, and earned my degree as a Certified Life Coach in November, 2005.  I specialize in coaching the entertainment industry including producers, directors, writers and performers. I combine my coaching skills with my experience as a television packaging agent.

Jim Arnoff, Career Coach
Jim Arnoff, Career Coach

Within the industry, I have led career coaching workshops since 2004 for the Producers Guild of America the Writers Guild of America, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York Women in Film and Television, New York City Coalition of Professional Women in Arts & Media, Women in Children’s Media, New York Women in Communications and American Women in Radio and Television and now Career Transition For Dancers.

Q. How did you connect with Career Transition For Dancers?
A. I’ve known about the organization and Career Counselor Lauren Gordon for years. The word “transition” is a great fit for a life coach. I was looking to branch out into coaching within the performing arts; dance was a new field for me but still within the entertainment industry. In 2012 I moderated two, three-part small group sessions along with CTFD Career Counselor Lauren Gordon. They were a success and we plan to have more workshops in 2013.

Q. For people who would like to prepare in advance for the first session of “Rev Up your Career in 2013” – moderated by Jim Arnoff and Lauren Gordon, what do you recommend as far as materials, websites, books, etc.?
A. Have fun in your preparation and spend some time envisioning what you would like to experience in 2013. Create a look-book, write down inspirational quotes, save inspiring pictures – use whichever tools help you to capture what you would like to effortlessly experience in 2013.

Q. Once someone has participated in your three part workshop “Creating an Action plan”; what would be an ongoing benefit of attending the monthly alumni meeting?
A. Go to reflect on your own goals, be accountable, receive and give support, obtain feedback, and find collaborations.

Q. The New Year is a time for people to set goals. What advice can you give to people that wish to set attainable goals? What action steps should they take?
A. The best way to set goals is to first envision them. What do you love doing? What comes effortlessly to you? What is your ideal match of collaborators and projects? Then, during the workshop, we will cover the action steps to take to achieve them. Even if you have already envisioned your goals in the past, do the process again and think bigger. Stretch yourself.

Q. Jim, what are you reading these days?
A. The Success Principles by Jake Canfield, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Q. What is one of your personal goals for 2013?
A. I’m accomplishing it now; to give away my coaching without expecting anything in return.

Q&A with Jesse Factor

Teaching artist Jesse Factor appeared on our Teaching Careers CarCon panel in December. Jesse teaches at the Marymount School of New York, the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, and the International Schools Theatre Association. As a dancer, Jesse appeared with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Graham II, and various touring companies of Cats. He holds a BFA from NYU/Tisch.

Jesse Factor

What led you to consider developing a career in teaching?

My parents were teachers at International Schools. I remember that they would come home and want to share what happened in their class that day or talk about what they were learning themselves. I attended the various International Schools my parents taught at overseas, and I remember thinking how cool it was that the teachers were able to share what they were passionate about with their students while also leading vibrant and exciting lives.

What kind of teaching are you doing and what attracted you to this setting?

I teach in a variety of settings but primarily I teach Middle School Dance at an independent K-12 School in Manhattan. Independent Schools are governed differently than Public Schools, so they have some flexibility in the specialists they are able to hire. I was impressed with the faculty at my school and their level of education. I also teach in the Teens Division at the Martha Graham School, and one evening Open Level Class at the Martha Graham School. I like this setting because the students are very focused on the work.

What skills and training did you need? Where did you learn them?

I would say that Communication and Classroom management are the primary skills no matter what subject you are teaching or where you are teaching. Students need someone who can reel them in,  focus them, and make them excited about the subject matter. I’m constantly finding new ways to motivate and challenge my students in a positive way. I would also say Observation and Intuition are important skills to cultivate as a Middle School teacher. Adolescence can be a difficult time frame for young adults, and sensitivity to their needs is essential.

I learned a lot about how to work a Middle School room while working for the International Schools Theatre Association. When I started, I was in my early twenties and I had no idea what I was doing. I would watch older, more seasoned teachers take control of a gymnasium full of insanely loud and boisterous students in a second flat and be amazed. I basically stole everything they did that worked, and use it myself now.

When I was in Graham II, we did a lot of Educational Outreach at a diverse range of schools through the 5 boroughs. That was a good experience to see how young people could react to dance and allowed me familiarize myself with trends in the way they reacted or asked questions. It helped me to anticipate behavior so I could structure my work accordingly.

In terms of the larger picture, I think having a pedagogic philosophy and knowledge of current trends in education are important skills to have. I took a teacher training course at the Martha Graham School that gives one a Graham Certification, but there I also learned how to structure a lesson plan and to write a syllabus as well as to familiarize myself with teaching objectives and teaching points and how to use them in the classroom.

What do you like about this work? What are the drawbacks?

I really like the variety of places I teach and the balance of all my classes. There is a lot of variety and I get to teach a diverse range of material. The Middle School students have so much energy and are a lot of fun to be around. I also love my co-workers there; I find them to be highly skilled and intelligent people who are also passionate about what they do. I enjoy the school community and working with and meeting so many different people.

The Teens at Graham bring a beautiful desire to learn that is inspiring to me, and the Open Class serves people from all walks of life who just want to move and stay active. I have to approach all my classes differently.

I also like the schedule of teaching. I can still fit in time to take class myself after the school day is over, and I’m able to maintain a freelance career choreographing and assisting choreographers. I still feel connected to and part of the industry.

I think the only drawback to my particular job is that it does take a lot of physical energy. Thank god for online shopping.

What suggestions do you have for members who are interested in teaching?

I would recommend specializing in a specific area and then familiarizing yourself with lots of different idioms. For instance, I specialized in the Graham technique but have taken workshops in many other styles and formats so that I can offer a variety of dance experiences in my curriculum. Don’t discount what you know, but learning how to teach what you know to new audiences is an entirely different skill set that needs to be cultivated.

Take workshops and as much professional development as you can. Familiarize yourself with current trends in education such as Core Standards, Technology in the Classroom and 21st Century Skills. Having this kind of information can really help you out in an interview or if you want to expand your position.

Write out a personal statement about why you want to teach. You as an individual offer a unique combination of experiences that no one else has. Distill and abstract the most interesting things and powerful qualities about you. Have a really good story or two about your performing career that you can parlay into a learning experience or use in the classroom. I would also advise you to have a sample syllabus and lesson plan ready for a demonstration class you may be asked to teach.

Attend information seminars and meet people at panels. Find people that inspire you and contact them for informational interviews. Books like inGenius by Tina Seelig and Mindset by Carol Dweck are great resources to have.

See the schedule of CTFD’s upcoming Career Conversations here.