Thomas K. Hafford, MD - Physician

All dancers can feel this profound, and often painful, transition out of dance and into civilian life – with its ordinary anatomy and energies – on their periphery.

Excerpt from 25 Transitions © 2011 Dancer Transition Resource Centre.

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Principal Training: Canada’s National Ballet School
Danced with: Anna Wyman Dance Theatre
Retrained in: Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit
Currently: Family Practice Physician- Providence Physician Group Harbour Pointe, Mukilteo, WA. USA

My wife and I are delighted to see our young son dancing to music across the hearth and onto the floor. We both appreciate that bountiful energy and joyful abandon.

I was once the only boy in my Essexville, Michigan high school taking ballet classes behind a bar on the west side of town.  They opened whole new possibilities up for me, an unusual teenager. It was clear I did not want to be a primary care doctor like my father, his grandfather, and later, my brother. Yes, I would go to university, but I would study ballet, and then go on to the Chicago’s Lyric Opera.

In 1979 at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, Glen Gilmore altered my path when he made it clear to me that I would never be a good ballet dancer.  Fortunately, before this heart-piercing message was delivered, I had already become fascinated with the very physical and theatrical Anna Wyman Dance Theatre as it was burgeoning on the international stage.  As a part this small, vibrant and self-assured company, I toured to schools and theatres across Canada and the States.  We were cultural ambassadors to Europe, India, and China. Medicine meant only quick repairs to physical injuries. 

All dancers can feel this profound, and often painful, transition out of dance and into civilian life – with its ordinary anatomy and energies – on their periphery.  I cannot pinpoint the moment when facing it, and moving into medicine, began to occur to me.  I was determined to focus my dancer’s drive on an ambitious field; to embed myself in a challenging discipline that positively impacts the widest array of lives.  These new dreams were only realized with ample support from the DTRC and Joysanne Sidimus. When I finally entered medical school in 1988, I came armed with an abundance of it.

After graduating from a Michigan residency in 1995, my wife and I returned to our beloved  west coast, with it’s mountains  and ocean, and I have practiced in the same primary care clinic in Mukilteo, Washington, for 16 years.  It’s sometimes hard to believe that nearly 3,000 people now trust me as their doctor, many of whom I have delivered. Although my wife actively teaches dance, my dancing is now relegated to skiing, running, and kayaking.

 Our beautiful son’s career ambitions are wide open.

DANCER TRANSITION
RESOURCE CENTRE

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