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Keeping up with the Spaldings

Having made my move back into the world of being full self-employed a couple of weeks ago to focus on Dance Mama, there are lots of ideas and issues coming up. I’ll be sharing these thoughts with you over the coming months, but to kick off, a timely issue is that of ‘keeping up with the Spaldings’ on seeing dance work.

As an ever-changing art form, knowing what is current and who’s who is a constant game of looking at programming across the industry and what trends, issues and new movement styles are on offer. It’s not called ‘contemporary dance’ for nothin’ folks! However, being a parent, and especially for new parents, this can be a humungous challenge for a multitude of reasons; evening performances versus bath and bed routines versus childcare versus travelling distances versus sleep deprivation…I feel exhausted just typing that list!

This is where the internet is totally brilliant, and for all its faults, the 24/7 connecting of like-minded individuals for discussion and information, as well as being able to watch trailers, excerpts and documentaries is a lifeline for so many of us. But there is only so far your iPhone can satisfy your artistic hunger and it cannot compete with being in the same space as live art.

this can be a humungous challenge for a multitude of reasons; evening performances versus bath and bed routines versus childcare versus travelling distances versus sleep deprivation...

I remember seeing my first show after having child number one back in 2012. I was tremendously excited that the venue down the road from me, GLive, Guildford, was programming Ballet Black – particularly as I had just moved there from West London where I could see anything whenever I felt like it. I romanticised how I would take Husband or a new friend to come and share the experience. But alas, after a frustrating few hours trying to work out breast milk maths (she was still feeding at the time), childcare and Mother Guilt, I ended up going stag. When I got there though, I very happily lost myself in the performance and returned with my creative soul more fed and a smile on my face. Hooray! And, what’s more, I will now more than happily enjoy the luxury of going and see things on my own these days.

Having a close-nit family to rely on for babysitting isn’t as much of a fait de complis as it was for previous generations. Absence of close family somewhat limits your ability to get out and about for even the most basic of things like doctor’s appointments, let alone the ‘frivolity’ of going to see a show. But is it frivolous? For the creatives souls who have spent a large portion of their life from an early age engaging with their artform, being severed from the artistic umbilical cord can be hugely disorientating, and Dr Theatre can give us great succour.

Bach to Baby have really forged ahead here in the last few years by specifically creating a plethora of regular classical music concerts that the whole family can attend. I thoroughly enjoyed going along to this as a punter, so much so that I was able to engineer a successful collaboration of a dance and music concert-workshop on my return from maternity number one in 2014 at Rambert.

I’m happy to report that further relaxed performance opportunities continue to develop in the dance world. This week The Place have a relaxed performance for the Clod Ensemble on Thursday 8 November at 11am. As Lia Prentaki, Youth and Families Producer and a Dance Mama herself comments:

‘Here at The Place in a move mirroring baby cinema we choose a show each season to invite parents to enjoy without the guilt and expense of having to leave their babies behind. We create a welcoming atmosphere in theatre bar for before and after the performance where the little ones can acclimatise as they need to. The performances we chose are for the grown-ups, we programme family shows at different occasions, but the parent and baby matinee is a chance for you to recharge your cultural batteries with baby in tow.’

Although so much programming is geared towards the evening, this is a brilliant step in the right direction and a positive statement from The Place about inclusivity. I’m sure as things progress there may be a listings of relaxed performances on Dance Mama that may assist you in your journey of venturing out, but until then you can start with Placebo and see where it takes you. Enjoy!

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