Career transition of dancers in Portugal: an exploratory study supporting the need for a program for development and career transition in dance

Fabíola Borges de Castro


Background: The subject of career transition for dancers continues to be a challenging issue to tackle. Consequently, dancers are mostly left alone to deal with this crucial transition, one that also determines the quality of their lives after dance.  

Goals: Main finality of this research study was to understand and offer guidance in the career transition experiences of professional dancers in Portugal and to propose a development and career transition program in dance that allows effective intervention to help dancers in their transition process. Main goal was to characterize how dancers perceive their career transition processes.

Methods: The study follows a qualitative approach, with data collection throw semi-structured individual interviews to professional dancers (from both genders) at different moments of career. Thematic analysis was conducted for the complete corpus, with codes emerging from the collected data (no a-priori coding system).

Results: Six key themes and a total of 34 sub-themes were identified. Dancers referred to feel unsupported and alone and, consequently, to experience significant psychological challenges when faced with a career transition. Most specifically, without adequate guidance, dancers reported to feel unprepared for their future. None of the interviewed dancers was aware of initiatives available to support dance career transition in Portugal. They were aware, however, of the existence of programs in other countries and expressed a need for such support in Portugal.

Discussion: . It can be concluded from the above that this research validates the need for a development and career transition program in the Portuguese dance community, one that aims to soften and/or eradicate the challenges associated with a dancer’s transition from active performer into a dance-related or other career. Collected data support the need for outlining a training and supportive program that provides dancers with tools to enable a healthier and harmonious experience of transitioning beyond performance.


Keywords: career transition; career development; dance; dancers; intervention program



Retraining, Qualitative research, In-depth interviews, Intervention program

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