At parties, bus stops and weddings, I am invariably asked the question, “So what do you do?” My answer depends on the context and the audience. To some I am a dancer, to some a teacher, and to others I work in the largest arts centre in the Midlands. All of these are true, and on some days my bag contains my Arts Centre uniform, two lesson plans and a pair of joggers. Mine is not a unique situation; there are many others for whom working at the Arts Centre is not the only thing they do. Here in the Box Office, Amanda designs and makes beautiful jewellery, whilst David studies for a PhD and is a Residential Tutor on campus.
It’s been an interesting journey to reach where I am now. Originally from East London, I moved to study Theatre and Performance at Warwick University and settled with my husband Joe before the end of my degree. After a year’s intense dance training and a two week run at the Edinburgh Fringe, I fell ill overnight. At first we thought it was a virus, but it quickly became clear it was something much more long term. I had to give up working and couldn’t walk to the top of the street, let alone dance. I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME and spent over a year in a wheelchair. I am a firm believer in making the most of what you have, so I became a crossword expert and produced numerous boring sketches of the view from my bedroom window! I also listened to hundreds of new pieces of music, writing down choreography I dreamt up in my head. Despite my positivity, it was still a hugely frustrating time, so it was a huge relief when I finally regained my health last November.
It has been a year since my recovery, and I am now at my previous level of fitness and able to work. I’ve had the chance to continue with Folding Space Dance Theatre, the company I was in the process of starting. I’ve also joined the lovely staff at the Arts Centre and have some teaching hours in the Performing Arts Department of City College Coventry. Everything is interlinked, so the dance pieces I see inspire my choreographic work and influence my teaching. As well as looking forward to Motherland and Entity here, it was wonderful to be able to travel to see Desh by Akram Khan at Sadlers Wells this October. I hope to use the piece as a tool for a unit on dance appreciation that I will teach next term.
I often get asked why I would want to live in Coventry, when the streets are obviously paved with gold in my home town London. Friends and family make a place and, I have to admit, I have fallen in love with the concrete skyline of this city. In whatever context you meet me, whatever the years ahead hold, I love the opportunities life has afforded me, and I am here to stay.