'We all have different journey’s and I believe being a dancer helped me mentally through this new journey.'
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
Being a parent and working always has it’s challenges. Being involved in the dance industry is my passion and now I have to share this love with my family. It comes down to time management, patience and realistic goals, finding those quiet calm moments in the day/night time, especially when I’m working from home.
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
I had amazing support from work, I’m lucky to work for a friend who has had children and therefore, completely understood everything.
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
In work, no.
Do you think being a dancer/ working in the dance industry made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?
Yes, it probably did. Throughout my career I was very body conscious and aware of how my body worked and how far I could sensibly push it, I assumed that because I was strong, fit and supple I would sail through pregnancy and be able to teach to imminent birth… Certainly, with my first pregnancy I kept going full steam ahead as I felt physically fine and believed I would bounce back as this was continually told to me. In reality it didn’t quite work out that way and I felt ashamed of that, but over time, with great support and knowledge it made me realise that that’s OK – like my career, we all have different journey’s and I believe being a dancer helped me mentally through this new journey.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
To give yourself time, do not compare yourself to others, listen to your body and be kind to yourself
f you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery?
Very carefully. I had the most amazing women’s health physio, who I wished I’d met during my pregnancy – she not only got me physically back on track but gave me back my confidence. I was lost before I met her – it sounds cheesy but she was my Angel
What changed most for you on your return to work?
The level of intensity changed. I returned to teaching 4 months after both my children, because I wanted to. I had to be careful with the level of impact due to the problems I suffered after my first birth especially but I found I started to teach differently and probably better. It was also so lovely to go back to my other “family”. Being in a studio and the familiarity of it all was good for the soul.
Childcare is also the other big factor. My husband and I don’t have immediate family anywhere near us so at the moment with both children being so young (there is a 20 month gap) it limits the amount I can do. Childcare in London is so expensive and my husband was also completing a 3 year degree whilst working full time so I really had to limit the amount of work I could do.
After the birth of my second child I wanted to work more and this is where the opportunity of working more with Chrysalis came about. I’ve taught for Chrysalis ever since the company began and am a great supporter of all that they have to offer, so I jumped at the chance of becoming Company Administrator and it fits so well with my life right now. It feels good to slightly be out of my comfort zone and to be learning new skills but in an environment in which I’m so comfortable.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Absolutely. My family are my number one priority and it brings you back down to earth when you start fretting about trivial things. I’m such an over-thinker and a complete perfectionist that it just tones that down, in a good way.
Does dance help you in your parenting?
Of course. My life will always have dance involved in it and my children have been exposed to dance from day one! Whether it be in a studio or dancing in the kitchen!It lightens those difficult days… and there are some difficult somewhat lonely days. Dance has also helped with things like, time management, motivation and being extremely organised – which definitely helps with parenting! As a dancer you strive for perfection, you can always improve, as a parent there are days where you have to cut yourself some slack – that was big learning curve.
Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance?
I'm afraid I don't...
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
I’m just an advocate for Women’s health physios. If you can visit one during and certainly after birth it’s money well spent.
More about Eleanor
Eleanor began her training at the Gillian Cartwright School of Dance on the Isle of Wight and later went onto study full time at Central School of Ballet. She has worked as a freelance dancer in companies such as English National Ballet, English National Opera, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Vienna Festival Ballet and has toured throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, and America performing the major ballets as well as more contemporary works. Eleanor qualified as a teacher after being awarded the Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma (PDTD) from the Royal Academy of Dance. She teaches at the Rebecca Jackson Dance Academy and is also Company Administrator for Chrysalis London. She lives in Surrey with her husband and her two children.