As many of you know, I am a full-time mom in addition to a dancer, teacher, and blogger. Being a relatively new mom, I am just learning and getting started in the balancing act between these twothree four worlds. Knowing that there are other dancing mamas out there, I wanted to share a research study that is currently being conducted in the UK. I was made aware of the project by a faithful reader, Camille (thanks)!
‘Vincent has long felt that female directors are second-class citizens in the dance world, left to mother their companies, never fast-tracked - but this feminist subtext never overpowers Look at Me Now, Mummy.’The Observer, 2008
Dance UK, Vincent Dance Theatre and Creative & Cultural Skills are working together on a research initiative looking at the issues surrounding pregnancy, parenthood and the return to work for professional dancers and dance companies working in the UK.
The research explores how companies and choreographers can better support women in work before, during and after pregnancy, and also parents to continue to make work, perform and tour. The project was initiated by Charlotte Vincent who wants to continue to work with peer practitioners in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who have or wish to have children.
VDT recognises that the conditions for working as a parent are rarely there in the dance sector. We have to recognise the shifts that need to happen in our practice as we get older – mature practitioners don’t want to work away from home so much, they need to bring their families with them and their bodies have changed. In seeking ways to support parent/dancers, VDT faces multiple challenges which range from working safely the studio providing increased subsistence and accommodation for spouses on tour, staggered rehearsal periods, understudies, managing long periods away from home and all the time challenging notions that dance is only for younger practitioners with no family commitments.
Realising that these are issues that face the whole dance industry, Charlotte proposed the project as a way of sharing information, celebrating existing good practice and suggesting models for companies to adopt.
The final research document will provide an analysis of dancers’ and companies’ experiences, detail best practice case studies and offer advice to companies and choreographers in order to support dancers in continuing to perform after having children. The team hope to receive responses from as wide a range of individuals and companies as possible – from ballet and West End companies, small and middle-scale touring companies, individual dancers, dance practitioners and choreographers.
Jane Whitehead, Vincent Dance Theatre’s General Manager, will be conducting the research and is happy to receive responses by telephone, email or via face to face meetings. All responses will be treated in confidence and case studies will only be included in the final report with the full agreement of individuals or companies.
To take part in the research please contact Jane at Vincent Dance Theatre on 0114 2210369 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The national voice for dance, Dance UK advocates and lobbies to promote the importance and needs of dance. Helen Laws, Healthier Dancer Programme Manager, Dance UK: 020 7713 0730 or Helen@danceuk.org
Creative & Cultural Skills is the Sector Skills Council for Advertising, Crafts, Cultural Heritage, Design, Music, Performing, Literary and Visual Arts, aiming to bridge the gap between industry, education and the government, to give employers a real influence over education and skills in the UK.
Unsure if the study was intended for only those involved in professional performance, I asked Jane if other dance professionals such as teachers could participate as well. She replied, “we are keen to hear from a range of dance practitioners including teachers and workshop leaders as well as performers.”
So, if you are interested in participating please contact Jane at the above address. She wants to collect the data by the end of December, so don’t wait! The research results are to be circulated in the spring, around Easter.