Mother of two. Katie was Learning Manager for the Richard Alston Dance Company and Director of Dance Educates at the time of interview.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
For me the cost of childcare is frustratingly high and this has definitely hindered me especially when it comes to working in the evenings (seeing shows) and out of hours work.
What support did you feel you had from work when you (your partner was) were pregnant?
My work [a previous organisation than current] was very supportive especially my manager who initially gave me support when pregnant and throughout my maternity leave. It was on my return to work that decisions were made I was not happy with. I was promised I could have three days (from a full-time job) and two months before I was to return they changed their minds and said I would have to work four days in the office and one from home.
This totally threw me as I had arranged childcare but worse than that was the pull of being away from my first born for five days a week when this was not the original arrangement.
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
Working from home would have been useful towards the end of my pregnancy – the commute was horrible in the end!
Do you think being a dancer/ working in the dance industry made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?
Yes! I have always been very aware of my body and know it well and loved this! I found it very useful when I was pregnant to be so in tune and understood if something did not feel right. With my first pregnancy I definitely felt more confident about my body and pregnancy but not with my second! It made me think about exercise and keeping fit and wanting to do this for my children. It was not the easiest being around dancers who look amazing and had moments of feeling frumpy but then these are the sacrifices women have to take on their bodies. Totally worth it of course!
If you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery?
After my second baby I was back in the studio teaching after six months, which I was surprised at going back so soon, but I realised the more time I spent out of the studio the harder it would be to get back to it physically and mentally.
What changed most for you on your return to work?
The horrible, stressy, rushing nightmare of leaving work exactly on time so you don’t get charged by your childcare provider! It’s the one thing I wish I could change. I am often in meetings or conversation or on a roll with work and have to run out of the door to make my train. It’s then an exhausting two hours that follow to do pick up, bath, bed. I am constantly juggling feeling guilty whether I have done enough for my family and enough for my work place. I'm still finding the balance now.
Does parenting help you in your work?
100% yes. I have more confidence over-all and have become more decisive and ambitious. I didn’t realise how much I love my job and the people I work with in the dance world so parenthood has made me appreciate my work more. It makes me more sympathetic of working parents and less tolerant of lazy, whiney people!
Does dance help you in your parenting?
I think dance has made me aware of general fitness and health but more so being aware of my children’s bodies and their creativity. It’s fascinating watch them grow and develop and see how important dance and movement is as young children.
Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance?
Not that I know of…
More about Katie
I run Dance Educates a company created to raise standards through a multi-sensory approach to learning, supporting teachers in delivering their curriculum through cross-curricular dance and movement
sessions. I create online resources and work with teachers developing their dance strategy.
I also work closely with world-renowned British choreographer Richard Alston and his dancers. As Learning Manager I organise workshops in schools, colleges and other dance organisations around the UK where the company are performing.
Previous to these roles I worked as Digital Producer at the Royal Opera House and Dance Development at the Place. I have gained a PGCE in dance (secondary) and my BA (Hons) in Dance Theatre from Laban (now Trinity Laban).