Welcome to 2021! A delayed post due to the insanely busy start to the year thanks to a fantastic cocktail of events both positive and challenging in equal measure. I was very grateful to receive my Arts Council England National Lottery Grant for Dance Mama Live! which has been a 'thing' since 2019, but is now an actual tangible 'thing'! There's the WHOOP!
I am working like the clappers behind the scenes to bring you the best programme possible with partners Sadler's Wells, One Dance UK, Yorkshire Dance, DanceXchange and Clearcut. The ticket release is coming imminently, and for more details on this FREE progressive and much-needed programme of monthly activity of webinars and creative workshops with experts and artists from across the organisations click here - where you can also sign-up for updates.
However, hearing this a mere four days after our third national lockdown was announced has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. When ole BoJo sent us back into our hibernation (and let's face it, we had all seen it coming, but like each time the rules have changed is always a total downer) I was at the hob and just cried out, 'For ****'s sake! What was the point of me doing a flippin' degree and wanting a career if the government insist on giving me no time to do it, ARRRGHHHHH!!!!!' I know that a good group you out there probably feel the same. This is also said with the respect and grace of our fellow comrades working full or part time in jobs they are less passionate about, and those homemakers too - I doff my cap to you.
With respect to that and being more than happy to do my part and do my duty to my children and family and help the national effort. I just want to highlight what this looks like from a freelance dance sector working parent. May I introduce to you the uninitiated, the time sponge that is homeschooling - which is putting enormous, unsustainable pressure on all involved. Like oil and water, I vowed not to try and do both work and homeschool at the same time. They do not mix. Inevitably someone is left frustrated and crying (usually me) when those pinch points occur, so I do my best to avoid it. So that makes for a really long day. Like really long. Today I started at 5am when I was awoken by my 4-year old and couldn't get back to sleep thanks to the Hamilton soundtrack ear worm and ideas for this site, da-da-da-dah-da...
This is just my take, and there is a plethora of circumstances, situations, furloughs, redundancies, technical poverty and gender equality that is being cranked up to the max...
Joeli Brearley and the good folks of @pregnantthenscrewed and Anna Whitehouse @mother_pukka have been doing an amazing job highlighting that it is not possible for parents (mainly the Mums) to be doing homeschooling and work, and running a house. Some solutions have been furlough or increased flexible working. If your self-employed like me, and just been giving a wonderful gift to get cracking on your business, stopping is not really an option. I mean I could? But where does that leave you, with the content and programme I am creating for you that's taken years to build. Mmm...(plus I enjoy it).
So what does it look like in reality? I feel inspired to write this as I just don't feel that there is enough empathy. Something I touched on with Danielle Jones today on her brilliant project Artists Exchange Programme's Instagram live. E to the M to the P to the A to the T to the Y.
Sure, all circumstances and all backgrounds are under so much pressure - non so-much as the frontliners. Big love to those working tremendously hard to keep us safe.
I can only write what I know, and this is a little window what our week looks like:
9am - 3pm Homeschool, with a bit of emailing and site updates in and around year 3 maths (God I was so happy o have left maths behind in year 11 and it is back, BACK with a vengeance) and maybe a drop off its one of the pre-school days for kiddie number 2 (who is like a WWF wrestler and a pinball at the moment - really conducive to concentration).
3 - 4.30pm Juggling playing with/entertaining the kids, with a few work calls and more admin.
4.30 - 6pm The dinner jive
6 - 8pm The put down jam
8 - 10pm + More admin
Then - Schitts Creek break (what is it about our generation and programme's with Creek in the title - go Dawsons!)
Repeat until Friday ....
9am - 5.30pm Work uninterrupted and sigh.
Family Day - nature walk and get those incidental steps up!
Now, I don't have an aversion to working. I have a strong work ethic, and sometimes that can get me into trouble. However, the expectations on all working parents needs to change. Remember last year when everyone was super supportive when your kid walked in on a call? That was shortly after laughing at that poor woman wrangling her kid of a BBC news interview (man, how irritating was that reaction). That is still definitely OK by me, but I'm not so sure that this is the case across the board.
Talking to PiPA Campaign this week and from the general mood of looking at the stats around women in the pandemic, COVID-19 is definitely highlighting gender inequality in terms of choices being made around parenting , domestic and job responsibilities that could potentially drag us back to the 50s for longer than lockdown. Now, I love Elvis and a bit of doo-whop, but I definitely want to leave the lack of progress on the equality front there, thanks. I may be jesting here, but I don't say this lightly.
So, I shall finish this 'insight' with a huge amount of gratitude to the teachers and the children who are doing their level best to navigate this tempestuous waters (often simultaneously teaching on Zooms whilst homeschooling their own kids) and to you, comrade - I see you!
You now know what the beavering away looks like from the Dance Mamaship - duplicated I'm sure in households up and down the UK. So I implore us all - be kind, everyone is fighting a battle.
I have created Dance Mama Live! for you - yes you! And it's FREE! Have a gander at the info page and sign up for guaranteed creative time, inspiration, information, connection and community.