NATALIE DICKMANN

If more companies were able to offer part-time work, flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home, I think this would be hugely beneficial to new parents.

Mother of two (now teenagers). CAT Administrator, Trinity Laban, Freelance Ballet Teacher and Consultant

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

I took a complete career break for 4 years after having my two children and returning to work was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever had to make. My first full time role was as a rehearsal director for a touring dance company, so finding flexible childcare was a challenge. I missed spending time with my children as well as feeling guilty for not being with them.

 

What support did you feel you had from work when you (your partner was) were pregnant?

I was working as a bar and restaurant manager at the time [no direct experience regarding dance].

 

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

N/A [no direct experience regarding dance].

Do you think being a dancer/ working in the dance industry made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?

N/A [no direct experience regarding dance].

 

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

Take the time you feel you need, it’s different for everyone. Keep in touch with your family, friends and colleagues and ask for help if you need it. Get back to work as soon as you feel able, even if it’s just for one day a week. I lost my self-confidence and if it hadn’t been for the support of the people around me I’m not sure I’d have ever returned to dance.Although my proudest achievement are my children, it was very easy to become known as ‘B and J’s mum’ and not Natalie.

 

If you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery? 

N/A [no direct experience regarding dance].

 

What changed most for you on your return to work? 

Priorities and organisation. I now have two full time jobs - being a parent AND working. People talk about ‘baby brain’, but I think it’s just that we have so much more to remember. I’m juggling my children’s diaries as well as my own.

 

Does parenting help you in your work?

Definitely. I recognise, even more now, that every single child is special and has something wonderful to offer. Through trial and error with my own children, I also fully understand how the correct use of language is very powerful.

 

Does dance help you in your parenting?

Yes, I’m surrounded by children who have a love and passion for what they do. I encourage my children to give everything a go and do what makes them happy. For me it’s important that my children have a good work ethic and hopefully I’m leading by example.

Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance? 

No

 

Anything else you think would be worth raising?

If more companies were able to offer part-time work, flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home, I think this would be hugely beneficial to new parents. Job shares could mean that companies get the input two amazing people for the price of one. I’d love to see a mentor programme that could offer support and advice for parents or parent to be.  

More about Natalie

Natalie's professional dance career has included performing with Scottish Dance Theatre, Retina Dance Company and Koncrete Physical Theatre Company as well as being a Rehearsal Director for Tavaziva Dance Company and the Great North Run Dance Project. 

As a freelance Ballet and Contemporary teacher, she has taught in a variety of places including The Place, Dance City, Guildford College, Italia Conti Arts Centre, First Dance Studios, Susan Handy School of Dance, St Johns Beaumont School and Dumeric School of Dance. She has recently returned to dance as the CAT Administrator at Trinity Laban. 

Images: Pari Naderi, Pierre Tappon, Ben Broomfield

Copyright Lucy McCrudden 2018