Portfolio Professionals – An Update from Dance Mama

Portfolio Professionals – An Update from Dance Mama
A Diverse Portfolio Update


Portfolio Professionals – An Update from Dance Mama

It has been a little while since you may have heard from me in print as an arts career case study in Building A Portfolio Career and I am delighted to have this opportunity to give you an update on how being a portfolio professional prevails as my modus operandi.

From my surname, you probably may have already made the connection that I might be related to one of the co-Authors and Founders, Colin McCrudden. Indeed, he is my late Father-In-Law. He was a huge influence on me in terms of supporting my entrepreneurial approach to life (along with my own parents). When the book was being written I was a few years emerged as a graduate from professional dance training. I remember saying to him ‘this is what young dance artists are expected to do from the get-go at 16 or 18 years!’ - and often without that much support or guidance in terms of running yourself as a business.

In my career I have had many opportunities to mentor, and it wasn’t until 2011 that I started to use methods in the book within a dance context. It has been extremely useful in enabling people across the sector (in established or emerging phases of their career) to gain clarity and insight into how to best manage themselves and understand that they have more power than they think. This can be quite elusive a concept in an industry where there is a lot of rejection due to most opportunities being oversubscribed with fierce competition. I draw upon the idea of ‘Wheel of Life’ in every first session I have with a mentee, whether it is a one-off meeting or the start of a series. I think the visual representation is an easy and effective way for dance folk to get to grips with what can seem quite abstract concepts of looking at the parts of their life that make up the whole. Especially as they usually have a laser focus on the dance part, often at the detriment of every other slice.

A large part of my portfolio now is taken up with my own advocacy entity, Dance Mama which celebrates professional dancing parents, highlights the issues that they face and provides inspiration, information and support. It began as an article in One Dance UK’s magazine back in 2014 after the birth of our eldest child and now holds over 60 stories, an information hub and most recently Dance Mama Live! a programme of professional development activity online, supporting by the Arts Council and in partnership with major British dance organisations; Sadler’s Wells, One Dance UK, Yorkshire Dance, DanceXchange and Clearcut.

An important service within Dance Mama I offer is Mentor Mama, where indeed the practices and ideas of living a full and holistic portfolio life are embedded into every conversation. This has also transferred across longer courses that I deliver specific to dance – Building Your Portfolio Career and Project Management Masterclass. Both of which have pivoted to online in the pandemic from their in-person versions that have been delivered in a variety of dance settings.

The sense of balance across the ‘pie’ is a challenge for most parents, and never so difficult in recent memory as in this global crisis. I consider myself lucky that our family is built upon a legacy of a way of living that is agile and responsive. I think this has really supported us to navigate the choppy COVID-19 waters and to be able to continue to build our work whilst raising our young family throughout and accepting the difficulties of existing in a period of physical restrictions.

I am honoured to be able to pay regular tribute to Colin in this way and be able to weave in the great work of he, Adrian and Chris on a slightly divergent tangent than they perhaps thought when they were writing the book! Thus, proving that the portfolio life can be as diverse as we make it.


Lucy McCrudden, Founder, Dance Mama lucy@dancemama.org

Lucy is a London-based dance entrepreneur and advocate. She is Founder of dancemama.org - a community and platform profiling significant parents in dance and the arts. Lucy has dove-tailed her own work with holding key positions in learning and participation over the last 18 years. These include: Dance Artist in Residence for DanceXchange (2004), Manager for London Contemporary Dance School, The Place, Centre for Advanced Training (2005-11), Expert Panel member of the DFE Music and Dance Scheme representing the National Dance CATs (2007-2010), Vice-Chair of Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Arts Grants Panel (2006-2009), Learning & Participation Manager, Rambert (2014-16), Chair of the Board of Trustees Dance Woking (2014-16) , Head of Learning and Participation, Rambert (2016-18), Project Manager, Chance to Dance, Royal Opera House (2019-2020) and Lecturer and Mentor, DDP, ISTD (2021-).

As an independent specialist she has taught over 19,000 people across the UK and has engaged with a wide variety of dance and arts organisations in many other capacities; consultant, management, choreography, and presenting/public speaking. She is Ambassador for the Parents in Performing Arts Campaign and Secretariat to the Scientific Advisory Board of the Active Pregnancy Foundation. She has an Honourable Mention as a Nominee of the inaugural AWA Dance Woman in Dance Award 2021.

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