Life in Lockdown is a blog series initiated by Greenwich Dance, which features community and professional artists close to the organisation sharing how they are staying creative during these isolating times.
Vicki Hargreaves, artistic director and founder of Commotion Dance Company
I’m starting my blog with a look back. March 2020 the government announced “stay at home and save lives”, March 2020 I’m 36 weeks pregnant, March 2020 lockdown began, March 2020 I didn’t get the chance to say a fond farewell to those I work with and teach before embarking on an earlier than planned maternity leave. I needed to stay at home and keep growing the new life I was creating. As director/founder of Commotion Dance and creative producer for The Point, Eastleigh my maternity leave started in a way I did not see coming, all of a sudden, just like that, the dancing stopped and I am left waiting.
How could the dancing possibly stop! I have to react, to reach out and connect. Thinking on my feet, hearing of this thing called zoom, I moved my classes online. Through Commotion Dance I created Commotion Club online, a weekly menu of creative offers for toddlers and parents. The first class had 30 people attend from all over the UK and it was clear to me how albeit via a screen, the need to connect creatively was needed, not least for me! The joy of jiving with a teddy bear and salsa-ing with scarves filled the screen, babies, toddlers and us adults alike all expressing ourselves, all moving in our own way, together…just what the midwife ordered!
Weekly sessions up and running I’m feeling connected and energised. Turning my creative writing brain on I’m now writing weekly children’s poems for Commotion Club, it feels good to connect words to the movements we are doing on a weekly basis. Plus alongside the online dancing and storytelling I’m now continuing pregnancy yoga (in the living room), coming to terms with the new life I am about to embark on! As a choreographer rather than performer I’m often watching other bodies in the space but now in the space of my own home I am watching my body, my changing body, growing a human! I wonder if they will dance like me.
Fast forward to now, my beautiful baby boy is here! And wow what a roller coaster it has been. My lockdown baby has been the best thing to happen to me, but not being able to share his cuddles with family has been emotional. We had to be creative when it came to grandma first visit through the window and a homemade jumper from great aunty was the perfect outfit for our rainbow baby. Regular living room dancing to get him to sleep (mostly the boy loves a bit of reggae), singing endless songs into the night and bath time stories are now the new norm and it’s wonderful.
Slowly as we hear the endless government updates I try to work out what is next, how to move on, will the career I love so much still be there when I come back from maternity? With the theatres I so passionately care about survive. Maybe more online classes will remain the norm for now, I’m joining my first online baby sensory class tomorrow. I will remember and take with me the beauty of time, the time to stop and recharge the creative batteries but I for one cannot wait to dance together again. This time has given me space to think up new show ideas and new ways of connecting to audiences which I will make happen in the future, but for now I will continue to dance with my baby and look forward to when dancing with others can start again.
Hi I am Vicki Hargreaves, artistic director and founder of Commotion Dance Company. I have over 12 years experience in working within the field of dance and theatre, with a specialism in early years and family audiences. I’ve choreographed for renowned companies such as Replay Theatre Company, Theatre Hullabaloo, Oily Cart Theatre Company and Dance-Africa alongside creating and touring my own work nationally through the company. I am also the Artist Development Producer for The Point, Eastleigh and work with a number of early to mid career performance companies such as Luke Brown Dance, Ceyda Tanc and Morvell Dance to name a few. I have extensive knowledge of teaching contemporary and creative dance and have specialist skills in early years performance work. I studied choreography and dance at The University of Winchester and am currently finishing my second degree in leadership and management at Southampton Solent. My passion and ethos lies with offering everyone the chance to be able to play, create and learn through the arts, in particular through dance. For more information please visit www.commotiondance.co.uk and you can follow me on twitter @VickiHProducer / @commotiondance1