Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health

Urgent Call to Address Challenges Faced by Freelance Parents in the Dance Profession 


Urgent Call to Address Challenges Faced by Freelance Parents in the Dance Profession 

Latest research by PiPA reveals risk of injury and exhaustion as new mothers feel pressures to return to work too soon

Funded by Dance Professionals Fund and conducted by Professor Angela PickardCanterbury Christ Church University, this qualitative study was based on focus groups and interviews with 40 freelance dancers and dance artists from different backgrounds and styles within the contemporary dance sector, working for established as well as smaller scale dance companies.  

The report highlights the key findings of the PiPA study and builds on existing initiatives. It examines the physical and psychological challenges, particularly faced by freelance dance professionals who are mothers, affecting their career development, their sense of identity, and personal well-being.

Key findings include: 

  • Fear of Discrimination: 71% of mothers reported extensive deliberation before starting a family, fearing repercussions on their careers. Women conceal pregnancies and caring responsibilities due to fear of compromising their reputation in the dance industry. The absence of visible role models perpetuates a lack of awareness and understanding of pregnancy and parenthood in dance, leading to identity crisis and talent drain. 
  • Returning to Work Too Soon: 75% of mothers in the study returned to work within six months after giving birth, risking physical exhaustion and injury. Financial pressures and fear of losing essential work connections drive new mothers to return to work before they are fully recovered.
  • Work & Life Conflict: Two-thirds of mothers reported struggling with work-life balance, leading to occupational stress, and forcing mothers to turn down auditions, projects, and performances. 
  • Talent Haemorrhage: One in five focus group participants are considering leaving the dance sector altogether. 

Download the Executive Summary here:—identity-crisis-and-talent-loss—executive-summary.pdf

This report has also been featured in an article run by The Stage:

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