Acrobatic magic, spiritual energy, fantasy ignited; all beautifully told on stage in an imagination filled story line. Often the tales are hundreds of years old. article, wikimedia photo article, wikimedia photo

That’s why many of us watch with delight those who are new to the world of contemporary dance and ballet. When we watch it, we are moved by it and love it, but we mostly don’t understand it.

One aspect of this fascinating industry that emerges with clarity is how extremely difficult it is to make a living at it for a sustained period of time.

Femcompetitor has met many young female submission wrestlers who are former dancers and the operative word is former.

Why do so many talented dancers quit and quit early?

Some insight can be found at the informative site which relates, “Sometimes, dancers have a responsibility to retire. Artists in almost every other medium can work until they keel over, but the demands of dance require serious thought about retirement before dancers even reach middle age. They rely on one another—one weak dancer, whether leaping or catching, can be a hazard to the rest.”

Reading a myriad of dance pieces there is this ground swell of thought that you should quit before you begin to hate the craft or look terrible performing it. article, wikimedia photo article, wikimedia photo

There also is the matter of finance.

Female submission wrestlers and dancers tend not to be the nine to five cogs in the global machine. I still remember sitting down to dinner with Penny Barber and a small group at a Japanese restaurant in San Jose and describing the nine to five lifestyle.

Penny Barber (left) – Rain DeGrey article, photo article, photo

She replied, “We don’t know anyone like that.”

While the traditional workers have bought houses, established 401ks and put children through college, many dancers live near the poverty line deep into middle age. Some see that in their future and make a decision to quit early and join the job market herd.

Dance as a profession entails an extraordinary level of passion, drive and commitment, extensive years of training and a paid professional life, often by contract; that by comparison to other mainstream industries is brief.

In the entertainment section of they underscore, “Currently active dancers expect to continue their performing careers well into their forties. However, dancers whose active careers are now over remember that, although they thought they could continue until their late thirties, on average they actually stopped dancing professionally in their early to mid-thirties.”

Those are personal reasons why dancers quit earlier than hoped. The injuries mount, the finances aren’t steady and it is a youthful and thin oriented business. Gaining weight in any form is a disaster. article, wikimedia photo article, wikimedia photo

Weight gain could be attached to a lack of self-control and some great lunch and dinners out but sometimes it is simply related to health. In the nine to five world with health insurance and government standards if a person has a strong health issue, they may be allowed time to recover with sick leave and disability pay and once healthy return to work.

In the world of dance, one serious health problem could permanently end your career.

The informative expressed, “A former New York City Ballet soloist, who had to quit her promising career as a dancer after a thyroid illness caused her to gain 40 lbs., has broken her silence.

Kathryn Morgan, now 25 and based in New York, was only 17 when she joined the prestigious NYCB and was 21 when she was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid. At age 23, she quit in order to recover.”

There are other more darker reasons why they leave early as well that appear to be industry related.

The respected news source reported on issues arising in the Royal Ballet citing, “When Kevin O’Hare took over as director of the Royal Ballet, he promised “evolution not revolution”. Two years on, it appears to be the dancers who are in revolt. Another rising star has abruptly quit, while members of the corps de ballet called in union bosses this week to protest at working conditions.”

The concern was at the Royal Opera House, members of the corps de ballet appealed to their union after the relentless schedule of rehearsals left them feeling near breaking point.

The union, Equity, held a meeting with management and as a result the company is instituting a compulsory hour-long lunch break in order to give the dancers time to eat and rest.

Sometimes there is more disturbing news.

In a November 2015 article the New York Times printed, “A young dancer from Texas who last year joined the Bolshoi Ballet after graduating from its training academy here has quit the storied company after alleging that she was denied opportunities to perform and ultimately told she would have to pay a bribe of $10,000 to get a solo role.

The dancer, Joy Womack, moved to Moscow on her own at the age of 15 in 2009 to attend the Bolshoi School, which is formally known as the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. It was established in 1773, and its alumni include some of the most illustrious dancers in the history of ballet.”

Joy Womack article, photo article, photo

When interviewed Ms. Womack said she was heartbroken to be leaving the Bolshoi. At the same time, she described a deeply troubled organization in which casting decisions were based not only on talent but also on payoffs and personal relationships.

Ms. Womack declined to name the Bolshoi official who said a $10,000 payment would get her a soloist role. She said the figure was mentioned after she had repeatedly pressed managers about her desire for prominent roles.

When it comes to enjoying contemporary dance and ballet, most customers want to indulge in and hear about the fantasy only. Like enjoyment of the college and professional sports world, they want to escape. The relating of inside industry issues is not something they want to hear about.

With Female Competition International and Femcompetitor Magazine, from our view we see the day when contemporary dance and female submission wrestling will be performed at the same event thus our need to stay in and view dance from a fantasy perspective is not paramount.

Dance is a world that we intend to examine more of so that we are not just voyeur consumers, but part of a long term positive association. article, wikimedia photo article, wikimedia photo

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Sources:, Wikipedia,,, FCI Elite Competitor,, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.