Almost four years ago Konzert Theater Bern, KTB, pioneered the idea of a special retraining fund for dancers in their professional transition. Estefania Miranda, ballet director at KTB talks in our interview about her vision and how this all started.

How and when did KTB come up with the idea of launching a retraining regulation and a corresponding fund? What made you take this step?

One of the first things i did as a ballet director was to raise the dancers salaries. Due to further analysis of the situation, also in comparison to the other genres, it was clear that the dancers profession has a unique selling point within the municipial theatre structures, namely the impossibility of pursuing the profession until retirement age. So it was clear to me that in addition to salary increases, retraining measures are also needed.

Are there any conditions attached to the maintenance of the fund and if so, what are they?

Since the 2016/17 season, Konzert Theater Bern has made an annual sum of CHF 40,000.00 available to feed the fund. The condition for receiving funds is that you have been a member of our dance ensemble for at least 4 years and in your professional tranistion.

What are the requirements for applicants?

Applicants will prepare an overview of the planned retraining measures and their costs, including living expenses.

What criteria are used to assess applications. Which factors are decisive here?

The decisive factor is the realistic feasibility of the overall planning for the retraining, including financing. In addition, the retraining measure should improve the earning capacity of the dancers on the long term.

In the german part of switzerland there are currently 2 theatres, KTB and Theater Basel, which decided to launch such a commitment to support dancers in this challenging transition period. How would you assess the trend? What developments would you like to see in switzerland in this respect?

Dance enjoys great popularity in many municipial theatres and as a result the recognition of the dancing profession is growing. Now it is important to point out the specifics of this profession. Most people are not familiar with the training methods, the daily routine and the need for retraining. I would like to see more platforms, formats and interest groups dealing with these issues and sensitising potential sponsors.

The Transition Center SSUDK offers counseling, workshops and financial support for performing artists, especially dancers, in their professional transition.

As a dance director and choreographer, where do you see the challenges for dancers in their professional transition?

First of all, I see the challenge in the fact that dancers unfortunately do not deal with the end of their careers in time. The passion with which dancers live their vocation sometimes prevents them from pursuing another profession. Therefore it is important to support the dancers to set new and realistic career goals. This has to take into account the personal situation, as well as residence permit, financial support and talent.

The interview was conducted by Dr. Monika Gugganig.