Along with knowing our careers will be shorter than most, dancers know one other thing going in: we won't make much money. Of course, everything is relative and varies from company size and location and such, but I am yet to personally know a dancer who feels "independently wealthy" simply from doing ballet. Even in the larger companies such as New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet (to name a few) where dancers are paid substantially more than the smaller companies around the country, high cost of living and higher tax rates come into play.
During times of temporary layoffs, most dancers collect government aid, better known as unemployment. Some people have hang-ups on this thereby they don't participate, but I view it as being the closest to government support for the arts that I am likely to see. (a colleague of mine once said this, and I stole it from her.) I don't take this assistance for granted, and I've always been extremely grateful for it.
Today, I saw a recently released movie that deals with people losing their jobs and being unsure about their futures. It made me think about my upcoming situation. For years, I have collected unemployment benefits with the knowledge that it was only for a short time. I have always had a "return to work date." In March, I will collect my last week of unemployment with a such known date. After that, I will collect for the reason that I am out of work.
At the moment, I'm not really frightened by this prospect, but it is a bit strange to think about. I will really need to be pounding the pavement the second I step foot in New York to find work. I spoke several entries before how lucky we are as dancers to have long and renewable contract seasons. Now, the fact that this will not be the case for me any longer is sinking in all over again and with a bit more intensity as May 9th draws ever closer.