Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 5: Parenting in the Arts

Talking Moves | 24 June 2022

In this episode, we talk to Charlotte Vincent and Robert Clark about parenting in the arts.  

Becoming a parent changes the lives of all who do it, but artists often need to make huge decisions about how they will balance the responsibility of caring alongside a profession that requires touring, weekend and evening work and situations where ‘WFH’ just can’t come into play. So how best to navigate these changes?  

We start off by finding out what Charlotte and Rob’s dancing lives had looked like pre-children and then probe a little deeper into the considerations that came to the fore, such as touring abroad as they took on caring responsibilities. Charlotte talks us through some of the policies her company has adopted to better support parents which have come out of the need to support her own family as well as those of her workforce. We talk about the various ’stages’ we go through as parents depending on whether children are pre-nursery or in school and how this might help or hinder our working schedules. Indeed the topic of scheduling is pertinent and we discuss how companies can better do this to support the needs of families. 

The effects of the pandemic come into so many of our conversations on this podcast and this one is no exception. We chuckle about video-bombing during those homeschooling periods but also reflect upon how parents have become more visible during the last few years, our nurturing responsibilities no longer kept so separate from our working lives.  We also compare some of the case studies in Vincent Dance Theatre’s report of 2009, A Dancers Perspective, to those of today and wondered whether we have made as much change as we would like…

The subject of power arises – between genders but also between organisations and freelances and how we can use our ’powers’, when and if we have them, as a force for much-needed change. We talk about speaking up about our responsibilities within employment negotiations, of organisations taking the time to find out about their employees’ infrastructures and support networks in order to understand what flexibility is there (or not there) and discuss the work that inspirational bodies in our sector such as Dance Mama and Parents & Carers In Performing Arts are doing. 

And finally, we reflect on the creativity being a parent can bring and the changes it has made to the choreographic and artistic approaches of both Charlotte and Rob.  

Who's Who

Robert Clark. A black and white head and shoulders photo of a main with short dark hair and a closely cropped beard

Robert Clark

Robert Clark is an established performer, choreographer and teacher.

As a choreographer Robert works across a range of contexts. From the stage, to intimate 1-1 performance encounters; at the core of Robert’s work is a commitment to curiosity, and the belief that empathy is the foundation upon which meaningful communication happens. Choreographic works have toured internationally to festivals including Tanztage, Touch Wood, Nottdance, Bmotion, Front@ and Pulse to name a few. Recent commissions include pieces on MapDance, University of Lincoln, and the Pan-European commission program Beyond Front@. Roberts work MASS (2018) is currently being reworked as part of a large international social-psychology research project. It will become an experiment, that will research the relationship between art and religious practices.

Choreographic positions held by Robert include Resident Artist (Greenwich Dance), Work Place Artist (The Place) and Associate Artist at Dance4. Robert is currently an Associate Artist with Vincent Dance Theatre. He is a recipient of the Simone Michelle Choreography Prize from Trinity Laban.

Robert currently performs with Vincent Dance Theatre, Charles Linehan Dance Company and Fevered Sleep amongst others. He regularly teaches classes and workshops for professionals and students of all levels and abilities.

Robert is a graduate of Trinity Laban BA (hons) and London Contemporary Dance School (EDge).
Charlotte Vincent. A woman with short grey hair holds a microphone up to her face

Charlotte Vincent

Charlotte Vincent formed Vincent Dance Theatre (VDT) in 1994 and has directed and designed all the company’s work to date, also performing with VDT until 2002.

Vincent Dance Theatre (VDT) produces and distributes compelling and socially engaged dance theatre work on stage, on film and across online platforms.

Driven and informed by an ongoing research process that explores the complex tensions between ‘community’ and ‘professional’ practice, Vincent’s work embraces the voices of, and creates opportunities for, marginalised communities and is applied and explored through a wide range of innovative participatory opportunities including; Professional Development, Mentoring, Teaching and Learning, Social Engagement and Dialogue and Debate events.

Charlotte is committed to raising the profile of female-led arts practice in the UK, works in collaboration with Parents and Carers in Performing Arts to advocate for accessibility for parents returning to work in the cultural sector, is regularly asked to chair and facilitate dialogue and debate events around gender and her own feminist practice, campaigning for gender equality through all the company’s work, both on and off the stage.

Charlotte is currently working on a PhD by Publication, reflecting on a lifetime of making original dance theatre work with VDT.

In autumn 2022, VDT will be touring a new work Hold Tight which explores the impact of separation on family relationships and how abrupt change and adverse childhood experiences impact on young people, their behaviour and their sense of identity, especially children taken into care. With two teenagers and four adults on stage and testimonies from care-experienced young people embedded in the work, VDT’s production explores home, family and belonging and considers how, when we long for intimacy and connection, sometimes we just have to Hold Tight.

VDT is a National Portfolio Organisation, funded by Arts Council England. VDT is Associate Company at Brighton Dome. Hold Tight is supported by The Dance Space, Brighton.

More in the Talking Moves series

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Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 6: Making Positive Change

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Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 4: Making Accessible Work

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Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 3: Environment and Touring

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