Mother of two. Creative Learning Director, Studio Wayne McGregor at time of interview. Now Head of Public Engagement Trinity Laban.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
I think one of the challenges of being a working parent (and as a dance manager and not a dancer I think this probably applies to most working parents not just in the dance sector) is the juggling of your time and priorities. Ensuring a balance between making sure you are achieving at work while having sufficient 'family time' is a perennial challenge.
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
I was very well supported. I was the first member of our team to have a baby so it was new territory for everyone so we just kind of made it up as we went along but I always felt I was able to speak to my manager about choices I needed to make etc.
Do you think being a dancer made you think differently about your preganancy/recovery?
I was actually performing in a children's project during my first trimester and did have a moment where I thought about whether it was safe for the baby but I felt fine so carried on. I made a definite decision to not tell the rest of the cast because it was early days and also I didn't want to be treated any differently either onstage or off. I was very aware of the changes in my body at that point (especially as my costume was white and very tight!). I think as a dancer you are used to having control over your body so it was quite odd to feel changes happening that I just had to go with it.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
To keep an open mind about when and how you are going to return to work. It is useful to have some kind of plan but you never know how you are going to feel when the baby arrives. I also think if you have a partner it is useful to have a discussion about how you are going to divide responsibility and childcare - as two people working in creative field with flexible schedules and touring commitments we had lots of discussions (still do) about whose work takes priority and who should organise childcare etc.
If you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery?
This isn't particularly relevant to me as I returned as a teacher rather than a performer. I think I just got on with it in terms of regaining fitness etc.
What changed most for you on your return to work?
The change from being full time and working all the hours I wanted to having to be at a certain place at a certain time. Also coordinating childcare when you work irregular hours or travel for your job. This is something I still find stressful even though the kids are older, now they also have activities and commitments they need to keep so co ordinating all that can be difficult but it just becomes another admin task.
Does parenting help you in your work?
I think sometimes it makes me more focussed and can also give me a level of perspective that I maybe didn't have before. My work is very important to me but it's not the whole me. I also appreciate being at work more and focussing on something that isn't about the children.
Does dance help you in your parenting?
In some ways - both my girls are keen dancers so I am able to give them opportunities that they may not have if I was in another job.