Current employer: Self-employed/Canterbury University
Current job title: Freelance Artist/Associate Lecturer
Current location: Kent
“Work as hard as you can and take opportunities even if they are unpaid… Networking is everything! Also, if freelance is what you want to go for, you need a savvy business head on your shoulders!”Tell us about your career path since graduation.
After graduation I went on to complete a masters degree whilst working as the Duty Manager of South East Dance in order to fund my studies. Since then, I’ve gone on to work on many projects as a choreographer and filmmaker. For regular work I teach three Youth Companies with Cascade Dance across Kent, as well as teaching for Royal Holloway University and in other freelance positions. I’ve also just started a company called Outset Dance, who were nominated for an award by South East Dance at Brighton Fringe in 2017 and won the 'Made in Kent' award to be featured at Canterbury Festival 2017. I am currently applying for a PhD at Royal Holloway University.
Has your career path changed since graduation?
When I completed my masters degree, I had the opportunity to take on a secure, office-based job in the arts which would have been very different to my goals whilst at university. I turned that position down to become a freelance artist and after two years of struggling, I am very glad that I did. I am now leaning towards more permanent teaching at Higher Education level, which I didn’t consider before I graduated, so that’s a great new goal to work towards!
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
Applying for funding is always a difficult thing to face as an artist; in the UK, funding for the arts is constantly being cut, so it can be demotivating at times. I found myself doing a lot of work applying for large projects and not getting accepted for any of them; however, it only takes one opportunity to get the ball rolling. In 2016 I had two Arts Council Funded projects, which I never thought would happen; so whenever I feel the strain of being an artist, I look back to those projects and it motivates me to keep going!
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
Taking the leap to go freelance and make a living doing what I love has definitely been exciting and rewarding! It’s very hard, but I count myself lucky that I get paid to do something that I enjoy so much. Teaching at undergraduate level is extremely fulfilling as well: they are motivated and eager to learn what you have to offer, which feels great!
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
I would have trained a lot harder whilst at university when my classes were free, to have improved my technical ability a lot more. I would also have tried to make more contacts and networked in the South East before I finished, as that was hard coming back and not knowing anyone in my field. You just have to work at it.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?
Work as hard as you can and take opportunities even if they are unpaid or do not seem to be beneficial to you at the time – you never know who you might meet and what contacts you could make. Networking is everything! Also, if freelance is what you want to go for, you need a savvy business head on your shoulders.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
Studying dance theatre at Plymouth gave me the freedom to explore my likes and dislikes as an artist and to find a voice. It took three years but I found it right when I needed to.
Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?
Yes, I am in touch with some other dancers and I regularly speak to the lecturers. I now work at the same university as one of my lecturers, so it’s great to see her. I’m also talking about a project with two Plymouth alumni for next year; however, nothing is finalised yet!