CLAIRE CUNNINGHAM
Dancers have such a wealth of body knowledge and pregnancy becomes another exploration of what the body can do.

Mother of one. Producer, Rehearsal Director and Yoga Teacher

What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?

My husband also works in the dance industry so there are many layers of organisation and compromise, and periods where our family are separated. The positive is that life feels full and creative every day, and I am so grateful that my daughter is exposed to all kinds of amazing projects, people and activities. 

 

What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?

I am self employed and was supported by really lovely contracts during my whole pregnancy. I was teaching yoga and repertoire at LCDS and felt very supported by Clod Ensemble working on An Anatomie at Sadler’s Wells with a pretty huge bump. I also received self-employed statutory maternity allowance, which allowed for a short transition period into motherhood. 

 

Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?

My choice to be self-employed felt daunting at that time as there was nothing in place to go back to work and I had no idea how the transition would go.

 

Do you think being a dancer made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?

Dancers have such a wealth of body knowledge and pregnancy becomes another exploration of what the body can do. My background in dance and health gave me confidence to opt for a home birth and investigate all the different techniques to make the birthing process as easy (!) as possible. After the birth, I was aware of the whole pelvic floor issue but to be honest it was all such a whirlwind that I am only just recovering now.

From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?

Don't rush back to work as these are precious days. It is lovely to build a strong support network by joining pregnancy and mother/baby groups, and most essentially, research childcare options early. The best child minders are angels in demand!

 

What changed most for you on your return to work?

Setting my working hours to suit motherhood has been essential, so I always emphasise what I can achieve to employers in that respect. This means working from home or locally more, catching up with emails/admin in the evening, and sometimes leaving the studio earlier. I only work outside of London a few times a year now. 

 

Does parenting help you in your work?

I think parenting keeps me grounded and gives me a balanced perspective on life. 

 

Does dance help you in your parenting?

Yes, some of my nicest memories involve popping music on and dancing around with my daughter. We bond a lot through creativity and movement. 

 

Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance? 

I see a few things popping up on Facebook now like PIPA, which is brilliant. 

Anything else you think would be worth raising?

Building a local network of like-minded people/parents has been one of the most lovely aspects of motherhood. We frequently help each other out and simply make it happen!

  

More about Claire

Claire has enjoyed over 20 years of performing and rehearsal directing with Random Dance Company, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Charles Linehan Company, Theatre-Rites, Rui Horta, Shobana Jeyasingh, La Scala Opera House, Hélène Blackburn and Enrique Cabrera. She was a movement coach on the feature film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and revival choreographer on Broadway for Theatre Rites Mojo.

 

Over recent years Claire has produced Chotto Desh for Akram Khan Company, and Silk Road for Jose Agudo, two stunning productions which have found a unique place in the world of dance. 

 

A personal passion, is teaching Yoga, which has lead to her writing and leading the Yoga for Dancers Postgraduate Module at LCDS, as well as teaching at the Prix de Lausanne, and for several companies and studios in London. 

 

Images: Pari Naderi, Pierre Tappon, Ben Broomfield

Copyright Lucy McCrudden 2018