Dion MacArthur - Social Worker

Today at work, I watched 1,200 people gather to eat a meal at a downtown Toronto shelter. I witness this endless giving every day – and, this is where I find myself after transitioning from a wonderful dance career.

Excerpt from 25 Transitions © 2011 Dancer Transition Resource Centre.  Photo by Kirk McMahon.

Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Principal Training: Brandon School of Dance, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre
Danced With: Danny Grossman Dance Company
Retrained In: Social Work
Currently: Case Manager, Veterans Affairs Canada, Toronto Homeless Veterans Initiative

Today at work, I watched 1,200 people gather to eat a meal at a downtown Toronto shelter. I witness this endless giving every day – and, this is where I find myself after transitioning from a wonderful dance career. 

Early in my professional dance career, my life beyond the studio and stage led me to help others. I spoke to thousands of high school and university students about the perils of eating disorders and the importance of believing in one’s self, and brought the physicality of dance to hundreds of TDSB inner-city students. While dancing has been my first love since I was five years old, I have always been drawn to help those in need. 

A few years into my dance career, I saw a DTRC career counsellor who encouraged me to attempt my first university course. As scary as it was, I completed it and kept going. I began my BA in Social Development Studies via distance education at the University of Waterloo, while simultaneously meeting the demands of an incredible 15-year career with the Danny Grossman Dance Company. I remember listening to course lectures on cassette tapes while on tour and sending in hand-written assignments via fax at theatres and hotels. It took me 12 years to graduate with my first degree. 

Injuries eventually caught up with me around the time that I was ready to tackle university full-time in my late thirties. Two years later, I graduated with my Masters in Clinical Social Work. Currently, I work for Veterans Affairs Canada supporting military service men and women who have proudly served our country and now find themselves homeless.

Looking back when I began my first course – with self-doubt, fear and anxiety – life as a dancer did prepare me for a second career. Qualities ingrained in me as a dancer are with me every day. While I miss the stage, I now channel my energy into helping clients conquer obstacles and support them as they make significant life changes. Their gratitude fills my soul. 

During my 14-year retraining journey, the DTRC believed in me all the way. I send many, many thanks for your financial support and endless encouragement. 

DANCER TRANSITION
RESOURCE CENTRE

Helping dancers make necessary transitions into, within, and from professional performing careers since 1985.