'My wish is that all dance parents have that kind of gentle support during such a huge transition, it can really make all the difference. It did for me.'
Mother of one. Movement Director, Choreographer and Educator, www.ingridmackinnon.com
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
It would be time and finances. I feel that the working hours for artists can be very tricky for parents but we don’t make enough money to be able to afford additional care. I always find myself having to leave a rehearsal early or asking for slightly alternative working times to accommodate being a parent.
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
I didn’t really stop while I was pregnant. I was teaching dance and Pilates as well as working as a rehearsal director. To top it off, I was still studying my MA at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Everyone around me was supportive in the sense that they encouraged me to slow down if I wanted to, but I think everyone could clearly see that I liked to keep moving so I was left to do so. I appreciated that.
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
Nothing specific from anyone that I worked with, but I generally felt a lack of other new mothers who worked in my field. I most likely would have benefitted from talking to other dance artist mothers beforehand to share tips etc. The mothers that I befriended just before my son was born and just afterwards are some of the most important relationships. I will always cherish them, but I would have also loved a space for artist moms as well. I wouldn’t have felt so crazy bringing my son to rehearsal if I had seen more parents doing it.
Do you think being a dancer/ working in the dance industry made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?
Yes and no. I definitely have much more awareness and tools at my disposal with regards to body care. I knew how strong I was and felt very comfortable continuing my work with adjustments as I went along, and my bump grew. But after my emergency caesarean, I wasn’t as quick as I thought I would be to get back my six pack. I’ve actually been slowly rediscovering my body as a mother and reframing my idea of fit and beautiful. I’ve had a lot of inappropriate comments about my body in the past five years. It’s amazing because as a dancer your body almost never really belongs to you and becoming a mother, I had to really work hard on loving the skin I was in, stretch marks and all. But I know this is linked to my transition from the stage to a movement director and creative collaborator in the room. I can appreciate that it’s a different journey if you are returning to the stage but hopefully the strength of pregnancy and recovery allows space for more body positive comments and less talk about “snatching back into shape”.
What changed most for you on your return to work?
The thing that changed most for me on my return to work was all of a sudden I had boundaries. Before motherhood, I feel like I would do anything at any time. Boundaries didn’t really exist or at least they were forever shifting. Now I try to be clear about what I need and I am working on being clear about my boundaries due to practical needs like childcare as well as emotional needs such as time away from my son especially when he was even younger. I don’t think we should wait until we are parents for this, it should be encouraged from the start of your career.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Absolutely, I feel that I as a teacher I’m much more patient and understanding. I have to be careful not to ‘mother’ my students but I certainly teach with much more care than before.
Does dance help you in your parenting?
I can drop into a killer kitchen freeze dance party in seconds. But my son has all of the cool moves in our house, my CV gets me nowhere, and I love it!
Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance?
Parents and Carers in Performing Arts Campaign (PIPA)
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
I had three women who were so encouraging and supportive in my return back to work. Jacky Lansley, Ayse Tashkiran and Vicki Igbokwe. All three literally held my hand (and at times held my child) and welcomed me back to the studio. I will always be grateful for that care. My wish is that all dance parents have that kind of gentle support during such a huge transition, it can really make all the difference. It did for me.
More about Ingrid
Ingrid Mackinnon is a London based movement director, choreographer, teacher and dancer. Movement direction credits include Hamlet (RCSSD), First Encounters: The Merchant of Venice (RSC) and #WeAreArrested (Arcola/RSC). She currently teaches dance and actor movement at the Guildhall School, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London Studio Centre and Mountview. Ingrid is co-founder of MoveSpace and holds an MA in Movement: Directing & Teaching from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.