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'If you are thinking about adoption I would say do it. It isn’t for everyone, but so many children would love a dancing family.'

Father of one. Freelance dancer with companies including Yorke Dance Project, and formerly with Richard Alston Dance Company and Rambert. Photographer.

In tandem with is wonderful career in dance, Pierre's a fantastic photographer. He has been a long-time colleague of Lucy McCrudden's and took her Dance Mama headshots.

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

I know it might seems obvious but the most challenging aspect for us/me is time. Before becoming a dad, I could spend as long as necessary dancing, taking class, rehearsal, stretching and recovering in the evening, thinking about dance and planning my next move. To a certain extent the priority was Me. Now my day is centred around my child and my time to work and dance is mostly when my son is at school which isn’t that many hours. In our case we decided to create a family though adoption which means that creating a strong bonds to our child is a priority, we do have to spend as much as possible time with our child outside of his school time. So the priority is now Our Child.This plus an aging body really changes how everything feels.

What support did you feel you had on your adoption journey?

Because we decided to adopt, and also the fact I recently shifted to a freelance status meant that I didn’t have much help, however my main employers; Yorke Dance Project (as a dancer) and The Royal Ballet School (as a Videographer) where both really supportive in our journey.

What support did you feel you had when you were on paternity leave?

To be able to be approved as a potential adoptive couple, it was important that one of us would suspend working for about a year. This is in order to give the best possible chance for the child to settle and to create bonds as a new family. Not being employed by any institution but being self employed meant that I didn’t get any financial help. However we could access phycological help through our agency and had our social workers to talk to.

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

I think to me one of the hardest transitions has been that my body needing to dance, it is really hard not be able to join dance classes or taking care of my physicality as I used to. I needed to adjust and find a new, less intense rhythm. What saved me what the abundance of online classes that are still available since the pandemic, this helped me to squeeze in some version of dance classes when I had not enough time to attend any.

Do you think being a dancer/working in the dance industry made you think differently about starting a family?

Since we adopted an older child, we skipped straight to school run. My dance background was definitely helpful regarding the energy level that I needed to have available every day. It definitely helped me with getting things organised and making the day move “smoothly”. From dancing, teaching, and also working backstage on various occasions, I think we learn a lot about problem solving, making things happen and work no matter what.

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

I think for us spending enough time with our child was crucial. Whilst I cannot really talk about having a newborn as we didn’t experience that part, I can honestly say that going from a couple to a family with children is a big adjustment. Having sufficient time away from work can help everyone settle into the new dynamic more easily. Simply not having to think about this extra layer of life give mental space for taking the best possible decision regarding the child that newly arrived and also help our partner who have to equally adjust.

Pausing dancing can be difficult as our body change (even more so as we get older). So there is a nervousness of being able to get back to performing at all. However, maybe because we have much more experience (due to our age) we also know how body quite well and how to get enough back should we want to perform again. And maybe this new chapter will be about something else than performing.

What changed most for you on your return to work?

The most important change is my availability. Before I could say yes to everything I wanted to do. Now I simply would not because of School timings, school holidays etc.. Both of my main employers have been extremely kind and understanding which have been of great help. I have had to learn to be ok with saying 'no' and being able to do less. It is hard to be the primary carer of a child and have enough time to dance and perform. Unless delegating to a nanny or another adult I cannot see how I could have stayed in a full time dancing position and be the parent I want to be.

Does parenting help you in your work?

In some aspect it taught me to care a little less about my passion, that was I would say an 'obsession' when I was younger. It gave me some perspective about what matters to me most. Having less time to dance meant that I had to choose which part of dancing was important to me in this new chapter of life.

Does dance help you in your parenting?

I think dancing gives me a lot of resilience and adaptability, I also think the experience I gain through teaching young children gave me ideas on how to relate to our child and how to power through difficult situations.

Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance (aside from this one)?

Not really.

Anything else you think would be worth raising?

If you are thinking about adoption I would say do it. It isn’t for everyone, but so many children would love a dancing family.More about Pierre

Pierre Tappon was born in Angoulême, France. At the age of five Pierre began his ballet training at the Patricia Vaysse School of Dance. In 2002 he moved to Bordeaux in order to join the Junior Ballet D’Aquitaine under the direction of Daniel Agesilas. While dancing for the JBA he worked in various productions at the Opera National de Bordeaux as well as for the Compagnie Christine Grimaldi. In 2005 Pierre moved to London to complete his dance training at London Contemporary Dance School, attending the One Year Certificate programme. After a year one apprenticeship, Pierre joined the Richard Alston Dance Company in summer 2007. During the summer of 2009, Pierre worked with choreographer Wayne McGregor — DanceLines. During the summer of 2013, Pierre performed in Dancing around Duchamp, Merce Cunningham events at the Barbican, London, under Jeannie Steele’s direction. In July 2013 Pierre joined Rambert. While working for Rambert, Pierre toured Malta and England with AFD Just Dance, a company created by former New York City Ballet dancer Antonia Franceschi. Throughout his career Pierre has performed in diverse work by leading choreographers: Richard Alston, Christopher Bruce, Andonis Foniadakis, Itzik Galili, Ashley Page, Barak Marshall, Merce Cunningham, Mark Baldwin, Martin Lawrance and Robert Cohan, among others. In 2019 Pierre joined the freelance dance sector, working with The Royal Opera House, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and Nandita Shankardass (Compañía Nacional de Danza, Spain). In 2009, Pierre completed his Master’s degree with distinction at Kent University. Since 2010 he has been teaching Ballet and Contemporary dance classes and workshops in Europe and America. Lead portrait image: Daryl Vides Kennedy

Yorke Dance Project Images: Jimmy Pratt (click on image for full credits)

Father's Day 2024

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