While it is easy to appreciate the beauty and artistry of dance, what often gets overlooked is the hard life they face as performers. Modest income, physical injuries and uncertain career paths all come with the territory. Now, a group with experience helping members of the show business profession is lending a hand.
The Actors Fund has a program specifically geared toward the dance community, called The Dancers’ Resource. The program addresses the unique situations dancers face because of the physically demanding nature of their work coupled with the significant financial challenges of earning a living in dance.
The Dancers’ Resource has seminars specifically designed for dancers, serves as a “support system” and offers groups for dancers dealing with injuries or other health concerns. The Dancers’ Resource will have an online component, to link dancers’ to additional resources and create an online community. The program will also address mental health issues including eating disorders, substance abuse, depression and other clinical areas.
The Dancers’ Resource program was founded by Actors Fund Trustee Bebe Neuwirth and grew out of her personal experience as a dancer.
“Last year I had hip replacement surgery,” said Neuwirth. “It came after several years of physical therapy, arthroscopic surgery, and excruciating pain. Add to that the emotional stress of not being able to dance and not wanting people to know about my condition – and I think you understand what that prison is like. After the replacement I recognized how extremely lucky I was to have a great doctor and great support from the few people with whom I shared my secret. And so I’d like to create a support system for other dancers.”
The Dancers’ Resource is just one of dozens of lifesaving programs provided by The Actors Fund. (Years ago, when I needed to make the transition out of a full-time acting career, I was helped tremendously by the Fund’s Actors Work Program.) From the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, AIDS services and the Health Insurance Resource Center to employment training, healthcare and housing, The Actors Fund is meeting the very real needs of the performing arts and entertainment community.