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Step by Step: a snapshot of parenting in the arts

Posted by Team APATA | Sep 8, 2022

Nowness.com presents: Royal Ballet’s Laura Cuthbertson on returning to dance as a new mother with ‘Step By Step’

As a sequel of sorts to their previous 2016 collaboration ‘Portrait of a Dancer’ that focused on Cuthbertson’s return to dance after injury.

Choreographer Didy Veldman told Nowness, “I wanted to film an intensely personal performance expressing Lauren’s feelings as she returns to dance having stepped away from the dance studio for the longest time since she began dancing at the age of 8. With a new baby, and a newly reconditioned body, the choreography celebrates a sense of new beginning, an expanded perspective and new-found commitment to her art. Lauren is taken somewhere new choreographically, reflecting a new beginning in her life, as a mother and as a dancer.”


The beauty of being an artistic and creative parent and caregiver working in the arts industry is often contradicted by lack of support and understanding, often ending in changes to career trajectory for many.

As co-founder and co-executive director of National Disability Theatre Mickey Rowe wrote an essay for Howlround  – “Redefining “Radical” In Terms of How We Support Parents” discussing his experience as a disabled single-father in the American theatre industry.

Rachel Spencer Hewitt – Founder of PAAL – Parent Artist Advocacy League for the Performing Arts & Media, shares the steps taken to make “Radical Parent Inclusion Replicable and Sustainable” for an off Broadway production that kickstarted discussion on including this new RPI into industry productions.

PAAL partnered with New York’s Public Theater for the PAAL International Digital Summit 2021 and is available to watch HERE. The summit gathered experts and theatre professionals to provide workshops, case studies, and affinity spaces for both institutions and individuals, illustrating how to create sustainable caregiver support and operationalise humane practices that benefit everyone.

Dr Jackie Bailey argued about the need for better support for women with children in this Arts Hub article in 2019:  HERE, stating, “For artists, the balancing act is even more complicated. 76% of us are freelancers, jumping from contract to grant to project and back again in a constant dance between survival and hope. Only one in five artists meet their minimum income requirements from creative sources: most of us take on other work to make ends meet.”

Big thanks and appreciation to all the educators and practitioners out there who navigate being parents and care-givers to their own families.

May the beauty of ‘Step By Step’ remind you about the little joys, and the big steps, you and your families have made -are making-and will make, in this gloriously messy world of performing arts.

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