This fall, Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) launched a brand-new program called EVOLVE | career craft for dance artists to support performing dance artists across the country in strengthening their career resiliency. Constructed around three key pillars that build upon each other – Foundations (workshops), Expansions (mentorship) and Activations (job shadowing) – the program’s aim is to provide an accessible framework for participants to develop skills, grow their careers and feel supported in a non-judgemental way. One of the best parts is that the program is entirely free.
“Foundations,” running this fall and accessible by registration, is their series of Zoom-based workshops focused on business and finance. Giulia Tripoli, DTRC’s manager of operations, Quebec, notes the topic of money can be taboo and artists are often treated with condescension by financial institutions, as was her experience. She sees the entire EVOLVE program as essential and notes, “This is information that I would’ve loved to have known at the start of my career that nobody offered me.… We want dancers to know that this is going to genuinely help you in your career, whatever point you’re at.”
Access to “Expansions,” the one-on-one mentorship pillar of EVOLVE, is by application and candidates will be assessed on how well DTRC and the mentors who are part of the program will be able to support the prospective mentees; it has to be the right fit. “Expansions” is a springboard for the “Activations” pillar, which involves job shadowing, providing real-world, hands-on experience for dancers interested in careers that may or may not be related to dance.
All the presenters and mentors in the EVOLVE suite of programs are folks who have worked as dance artists themselves or are currently working as dance artists, so they are coming from a place of lived experience; this enables them to empathize with the personal and professional career realities of program participants. Tripoli feels this will create a more welcoming, understanding atmosphere. P. Megan Andrews, interim executive director for DTRC, adds, “There’s a relatability that we’re trying to build in to help overcome the fears or perhaps trepidations that dance artists may have in talking about these subjects.”
Andrews notes that EVOLVE is a response to what DTRC has heard the dance sector needs: “We’ve heard from the community and our membership over the last number of years that what dancers are looking for right now are these kinds of skills and supports.… I think it comes out of the need to have a more diverse career framework in order to navigate the ups and downs that are inherent in this kind of creative life.”
All the workshops will be offered with simultaneous translation, with some of them presented in English and others in French. ASL and LSQ will also be available.
With accessibility and inclusion in mind, DTRC recently changed their definition of a “professional dancer” so they are able to support more artists working in the sector, acknowledging that there are diverse ways to work as an artist and not all of them involve direct remuneration for a performance. This means more people are able to access programs like EVOLVE and DTRC’s wide variety of member services and community programming. Andrews notes that DTRC is “a community support organization” and their current catchphrase is “We’ve got your back!” Tripoli adds, “We want people to understand that’s exactly it.” DTRC serves both members and non-members by responding to individuals’ unique needs.
While many people think that DTRC primarily serves dancers at the beginning and end of their careers, artists who are looking to pursue a parallel or portfolio career alongside their work as a performer are a great fit for both EVOLVE and DTRC’s core membership programs; whatever stage you are at in your performing career, DTRC truly has your back.
EVOLVE programs open on Sept. 5, 2023, and run through October 2024. For more information and deadlines, head to dtrc.ca/evolve. If you’d like to know more about other programs the DTRC has to offer or to get information on membership, head to dtrc.ca today.
EVOLVE programs are funded by TD Bank Group. DTRC gratefully acknowledges operating support from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.