PROFESSOR EMMA REDDING
Mother of two. Head of Dance Science, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance at time of interview. Now Director of the Victorian College of Arts (University of Melbourne)
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
Dealing with the guilt of loving my children and being a mum yet also loving my career and job. Childcare costs are also difficult an I can imagine it would be really hard for a freelance dancer.
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
Excellent support - maternity leave
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
Do you think being a dancer made you think differently about your preganancy/recovery?
Dancers are so physically aware so it is weird having to 'give up' your body to pregnancy. Yes I was worried during my first pregnancy that I may not get my body back to shape however in fact I became so busy once back to work that it was difficult to put on weight. During my second pregnancy, this didn't bother me at all.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
Take more maternity leave than you think you need. The time flies by and you'll be back at work before you know it! The dance world will still welcome you back.
If you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery?
After my c-section, it took 12 months of gradual training before feeling totally back to my performing self. During my second pregnancy, I danced until 5 months and then after the baby was born, I took 18 months to get back to performing.
What changed most for you on your return to work?
My working schedule. I had to make choices and prioritise as I couldn't simply hang out all day and night with dance artists - something I loved to do and now miss. I still go to performances but I have to carefully choose what to see.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Yes it puts things into perspective. I get less stressed about problems at work.
Does dance help you in your parenting?
Yes in that my experience in dance has taught me the importance of encouraging my children to be physically active, creative and choice making individuals.
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
It is now entirely possible to have a baby and remain active in the dance world. This wasn't the case years ago. I'm sorry that so many of my older colleagues did not have children because they felt less supported to do so.