'anything is possible…! I never thought at the age of 50 that I would be setting up a dance company.'
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
I think being self-employed from the beginning of my career has really helped me face the challenges of being a parent and working in dance/fitness. Most of my dancing work was done prior to having children although I have been doing a few professional dancing jobs after having them and juggling the two feel so lucky to have been blessed with a very understanding and also self employed husband! Being a slightly more mature Mum when I had childrenwill admit that I had to work extra hard to maintain a good energy level!
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
As I am self-employed and run my own business, I took the minimum time off work. That was slightly stressful but I did get Maternity Allowance which helped. I remember the days when I would be expressing milk and then dashing out to teach!
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
Personally, I think we all deal with our work and life situations so differently. Taking 6 months to a year off work was not an option, so I worked round it as best I could, and so far so good.
Do you think being a dancer/ working in the dance industry made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?
I remember being very keen to regain my level of fitness fairly quickly, and only after my second pregnancy did I really realise the toll the pregnancies had taken on my body. Luckily, through my Pilates training I have managed to adapt when I need to and lessen the load on my body if I am under par.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
As I mentioned earlier, we are all so unique so you as an expectant parent should figure out what will work best for you with the least amount of stress or pressure as possible.
f you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery?
It was a while before I danced postnatally so I had plenty of time to get my body used to the demands of dancing again!
What changed most for you on your return to work?
Unbelievably, not that much...body wise not quite as able-bodied as before but nothing that prevented me from doing the best job I could.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Yes, definitely. I feel a better instructor for it. In the teaching I do now I feel I have a lot more understanding of individuals needs and feel a lot more confident in working with people of all different abilities.
Does dance help you in your parenting?
Yes, dancing and moving is something I have known from a very early age and without moving I get grouchy and irritable. It calms my mind and I can more easily take on the challenges that parenting requires.
Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance?
Weirdly, I don’t think I do although when I transitioned from teacher to dancer and then back to teaching I did get help from the Dancers Career Development.
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
Only that anything is possible…! I never thought at the age of 50 that I would be setting up a dance company and promoting moving in to maturity and enjoying both teaching and treading the boards again with such pleasure!
More about Heather
Heather originally trained at The Royal Academy of Dance (LRAD,ARAD, LISTD) followed by a years performance course at The Rambert School. She went on to dance professionally with various touring ballet companies and musicals to include Phantom of the Opera, On Your Toes and The Pyjama Game. She assisted Will Tuckett with his productions of Wind in the Willows and Pinocchio and worked as a dancer in Raymond Gubbay's Strauss Galas and also as a dancer at Glyndebourne and ENO. During this time she trained with the Pilates Foundation and has been teaching since 2002.