The Theater Basel founded a retraining fund in August 2019 and now also supports dancers financially. How did this happen?
As ballet director at the Theater Basel, it has long been my wish and need to be able to actively help the dancers with this topic. Here in Basel, we are very fortunate that the human resources department and the commercial management of the Theater Basel not only show understanding for this concern, but that it has also been possible since this season for an amount of CHF 0.50 of every ticket sold to ballet performances to flow into a fund set up specifically for this purpose. In addition, of course, we will sensitize sponsors and patrons to this concern. This means that dancers who have been employed at the house for at least four years and have reached the age of thirty can benefit from this donation. We are very proud and grateful that Theater Basel is playing such a pioneering role in the retraining of ensemble members of the ballet.
Where do you see the challenges for the dancers in their professional transition?
The first big challenge is the consciousness of the dancers. We are active in our profession with such enormous enthusiasm and passion that the thoughts of a professional life after the dance are often suppressed. To develop an awareness of the fact that it is worthwhile to deal early with realistic possibilities and to inform oneself, and if necessary to take the first small steps in a new direction – for example by stocking up with specific literature on a topic – is certainly a point that dancers should become even more aware of.
But of course it is also important to help the young colleagues actively, i.e. with information and also financially, with a reorientation. That’s why the Theater Basel has now opened a fund that provides concrete support for the dancers in retraining.
How does the Transition-Center SSDUK support the dancers during retraining?
We had already carried out some workshops offered by the Transition-Center. On the one hand, this raises awareness of the topic. On the other hand, there is also very concrete information about possibilities, feasibility and also further concrete retraining financing. Personal one-to-one coaching activates help for self-help and competence assessments take place. In my experience, dancers often have no idea how well trained they are in areas such as discipline, stamina and teamwork. In addition, there is flexibility and the ability to communicate globally and in different languages.
What is the added value for the dancers?
It is never easy to give up or have to give up this wonderful profession. That’s why I think it’s particularly important for us as an employer to work towards successful professional transitions for our dancers. I almost consider this to be a moral obligation. The added value of the dancers is that they can take this step more calmly and better prepared and are less affected by existential fears.
As a long-time ballet director at a large tripartite house, I must also point out that the numerous dancers who have undergone retraining within the company and now work here in other departments are extremely sought-after and popular employees. I would even say: the companies that retrain and hire former dancers also benefit – and enormously.