Dancer or Dance Artist? Dance Careers and Identity

By Dawn Bennett.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Martha Graham famously said, “We have so little time to be born to the moment”.The practice of ‘staying in’ or being ‘alive’ to the present is fundamental to dance performance; and yet sustainable careers in dance require dance artists to look beyond the moment, beyond performance and, often, beyond the artform. Inspired by a passion for dance performance, dance students most often train with the aim of achieving a performance career, whereas the realities of dance practice often involve continuous transitions within protean careers that require continual up-skilling and the development of a holistic professional identity. This paper considers the working lives of dancers in Australia in terms of transition and identity, arguing that there is good reason to adopt the term ‘dance artist’ and to radically change the perception of success to encapsulate the broad and valuable roles that dance artists play within society.

Keywords: Dance, Dance Artist, Careers, Identity, Arts

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.73-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 548.026KB).

Dawn Bennett

Research Fellow, Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dawn Bennett is a Research Fellow with Curtin University of Technology, Australia. Bennett holds postgraduate degrees in education and music performance, including a PhD (Distinction) with the University of Western Australia and a Fellowship with Trinity College, London. She has worked extensively as a violist, educator, researcher and administrator in England and Australia. Bennett’s research focus is sustainable professional practice within the cultural industries, with a special emphasis on the effectiveness of related education, training and policy. Her monograph Understanding the Classical Music Profession: The Past, the Present and Strategies for the Future will be published by Ashgate in 2008.


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