Gelsey Kirkland was a great ballet dancer, but she wasn’t the best the US had ever seen, and you have to work really hard to stay on top in ballet, so her drug lifestyle caught up with her, and she had a much shorter career than a lot of dancers who started out at the same time she did. Her name also became a by-word for being a screw-up in the dance world. She tried doing guest appearances-- she’d hire herself out to regional venues, like ballet companies that weren’t in New York or LA, or universities that had ballet departments, to join a production, supposedly to attract a bigger audience, but she left a long trail of trashed hotel rooms and disappointment.
She tried writing her “recovery” autobiography, which had the double punch of drug use and anorexia, and also tried a comeback with the Royal Ballet, but she was probably just too old for a fresh start, because once you get out of shape for ballet, that’s pretty much it.
The greatest dancers, like Maya Pliesetskaya sometimes dance into their 50s (I saw her when she was 52, and she was astounding). I think Kirkland is teaching now, and she’s been married 3 or 4 times.
Now, one question is whether she would have been as screwed up as she was if she weren’t in such a high pressure job. Maybe not. But obviously not everyone gets screwed up. Darci Kistler danced for almost 20 years, and managed to have a child, without drugs or as far as I know, an eating disorder, and she was dancing around the same time as Kirkland. She’s quietly retired now. Her marriage has had some real weirdness, but she hasn’t gone through a string of them.
I think it’s always going to be a detriment. There’s always going to be a “what if?” Some people will put up with difficult, but some people won’t, and there will always be missed opportunities. Directors who go over budget don’t make more films, unless they can find their own backing for the next project, and that requires a lot of extra work, plus selling someone on their vision, so maybe they do have be better than other people.
There’s probably a threshold, though, where you are so difficult, you can’t possibly be that good, because no one can.