Dad Dancing // Rosie Heafford, Alexandrina Hemsley and Helena Webb

Over the past month or so, choreographers Rosie Heafford, Helena Webb and I have been working with a supporting cast of people local to Gloucester on our show Dad Dancing (2012 onwards). It is a show that came about when our three dads would come to see our dance performances at Laban back in 2009, completely befuddled by what we were up to. It has grown into a show that reflects on the role of fatherhood - acknowledging the diversity within these roles and how they are taken up. We work with dads, father-figures and children of any age to tease out tender portraits of what’s at stake between and within these relationships.

It’s a project whose emotional weight strikes me at different points. Composing from the external vantage point of choreographers to sharing the lived experiences and dynamics of our own father-child relationships is very affecting. More and more, I think that the show asks for resilience and vulnerability to be intertwined particularly for the supporting cast. It is an ask that we as a creative team nurture as best we can. Our process spends time dancing altogether with the  simple but dedicated task of listening to the textures found within music and our internal rhythms. Our hope is that engaging in these acts of improvisation reveals the joy of movement, the space dancing offers to process emotion and an ever-changing sense of togetherness that can be evoked as a group. 

On stage, I had a sense of collective building, revealing and witnessing. Resting post-show now, I am reflecting on how important these three actions are when considering relationships between parents and their children, more nuanced understandings of parenting roles that undo gendered inequality and the need for society and governments to better understand the diversity of father roles and re-shape policies that represent and support this. 

- Alexandrina Hemsley


Links Relevant to this diagnosis:

Dad Dancing at Strike A Light 2018 

Putting Dads in the Data - Fatherhood Institute

Paternity Rights - Guardian