Life After Dance
By Joanne DiVito
If I can’t dance, what can I do? This is often the dancers question later in their career. However, this was not necessarily on the mind of Amber Sorgato, a chestnut haired beauty, at the height of her dance career with the Celine Show when suddenly she had to put her career on hold because of a rare joint disease called PVNS. It made her knees swell to a mass the size of a large egg causing her joints to lock and finally preventing her from bending or straightening them, making it impossible to continue dancing. She was in the middle of a successful dance career, having graduated from Boston Conservatory with a BFA, moving on to work with Princess Cruises, the Rockettes, Notre Dame de Paris, and eventually The Celine Show in Las Vegas.
“It was very inconvenient,” says Amber. “I was out for 13 months, yet through all that, luckily the Dragone Organization and Celine were wonderful and willing to wait for me to get back on my feet. When I came back, I did two more years, and finished my entire contract.” But this was a time for reflection about her next step.
“I had heard about Career Transition For Dancers (CTFD) when I was recuperating from my knee operation. I went to the workshop they had at the Nevada Ballet Theatre, here in Las Vegas, in 2005. At that time, it became clear to me that my end goal was always to teach. I wanted to have my own dance studio.” It was also deep inside the fabric of her own family to do so. Amber mused, “I had been teaching since I was 16. My mom taught piano, dad taught Karate and they had their own studio in their home. It eventually became clear to me the reason I wanted to do my college degree and dance professionally was for the experience that it would bring to my teaching.”
“That’s why CTFD is such an important organization for me and other dancers. When you’re a dancer, you rarely have a group in your corner. You’re often on your own trying to get through to your next job. It’s so competitive, and to know that you have someone there for you is really comforting.”
Career Transition For Dancers (CTFD), is a non-profit organization that has been recognizing the uniqueness of the dancer for 25 years, providing career counseling, grants, scholarships and seed money to start new businesses, all the services are free of charge to the dancer
In preparation to embark on her new career, Amber worked hard to put the details together. “I had spent two years collecting files and plans on what I wanted to do when I was finished with the show.” She was encouraged to move ahead with her dream by the CTFD Career Counselor. “I worked on my business plan and finally put everything together by April 2007 when I applied and got the grant from CTFD. Then I started looking for properties. I wanted the right location, a place I could stay for awhile. I had saved my money and found a space, remodeled it, put in a new floor, and finally opened the doors in July of 2007.
“I had only five more months before the Celine Show’s closing performance in December. I knew it was my transition, so I tried to stay present in the experience. I also knew teaching would be my future and just wanted to enjoy the last days of the show. I recognized it as a big pivotal moment, I wanted to end my dance career on a high note, I was age 34 at the time, and luckily I had something to go to that made me very excited.
“On the last night of Celine’s Show I was so happy to be a part of the whole experience. They dropped oh so many rose petals from the ceiling. It was such a moving event. Celine is such a class act.”
“Now reflecting on my experience, I think, to trust that while dance is a huge part of who you are, it’s not all that you are. It’s important to know that if you keep open to every possibility, you’ll be surprised at what actually does come your way. I thank you CTFD for existing for us. Now I feel like I am in the right place doing the right thing.”