Claire Summers - BA (Hons) Dance Theatre graduate

Current employer: Self-employed

Current job title: Artistic Director of Exim Dance Company and Senior Producer with Plymouth Dance

Current location: Plymouth

“The teaching and support I received from the faculty was outstanding. I left four years ago and I’m still in constant contact with the department. Their support doesn’t stop on graduation.”

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Yes. I didn't plan on staying in Plymouth! I was going to move back home to Liverpool but I got a job, and then another, and then another, and now it’s been four years. Because there is such a fantastic cultural offer here I've been in steady employment ever since graduating.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Taking on too much work. When I first started working as a freelancer it was really hard to turn work down as there is always a fear that work will dry up and you might need the money. Also, you think that the job you turn down could lead to something else. I’ve slowly learnt to let things go.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Honestly? Everything! I couldn't have dreamed my job up when I was an undergraduate and I still have to pinch myself! Although I did find myself sat in Hofesh Schechter’s garden a few weeks ago, interviewing him: which was pretty exciting for the dance geek in me. For those who aren't dancers, Hofesh is one of the top contemporary choreographers in the UK… I’m a huge fan!

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

Slow down and take more time to enjoy the achievements I've made. As a project manager and artist I constantly have to plan ahead, as soon as one thing ends you’re on to the next.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Work your socks off! Don’t wait until graduation: you need to start building your skill base and networks now. Also don’t forget that the people teaching you are also the people you are likely to be working with/for in the future. The way you conduct yourself will be noted. I've worked for and with several of my lecturers since graduation. In this industry a lot of jobs come via word of mouth or recommendation.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

So much I can’t even begin to condense it all in to a short answer. The teaching and support I received from the faculty was outstanding. I left four years ago and I’m still in constant contact with the department. Their support doesn't stop on graduation. I would not be where I am today without their support: since graduation through mentoring, studio space, references and putting me in touch with their network of professionals.

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