Claire Cunningham (United Kingdom)'s story

Claire Cunningham (United Kingdom)

Claire Cunningham (United Kingdom)
Independent dancer
Rehearsal Director, teacher and dancer
Claire Cunningham performed with Wayne McGregor and Random Dance Company from 1996 to 2006. She has also worked with Rui Horta (Portugal), Theatre Rites (UK) and most recently Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Belgium) where she was both a performer and rehearsal director. In 2009 Claire choreographed ‘4m2’ as an associate artist at Déda, a piece that has since toured to 15 European venues. She was also a movement coach on the feature film ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. Claire’s opera performances include La Bohème and Salome for ENO and Das Rheingold for La Scala, Milan. She teaches yoga and dance for various companies throughout Europe.

Throughout my adult life I have maintained a steady yoga practice, which I believe to have contributed towards an injury free and happy career in dance. As I scratched the surface of Hatha Yoga (yoga of the body/mind) I realised there was a far deeper practice and history to discover. It was this fascination, which guided me to the Sivananda Ashram in India to undertake a Teacher Training Certification. This period of personal development was supported by the DCD not only financially but with their encouragement and advice. In India I was able to strengthen my physical practice and learn other aspects of yoga such as meditation, philosophy, chanting and Sanskrit. It was an intense and immersive experience, guided by the most inspirational teachers I have ever had the opportunity to study with.

Since returning from India, I have taught yoga for various dance companies and schools in Europe, including Carte Blanche, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Aracaladanza and The Place. I derive great satisfaction and happiness from teaching, which I now incorporate with rehearsal directing. Though I still perform in project based work I feel very much immersed in a career transition whereby I can nurture other artists and support dancers through their demanding physical schedules. I am currently undertaking an MA at The Place, researching two topics. Firstly, looking at specific aspects of yoga and how certain techniques may benefit dancers, and secondly, discussing good practice in making quality dance/theatre for young audiences. This qualification is also funded in part by the DCD.

I believe professional development to be an ongoing process, which dancers inherently understand after years of trying to perfect their art. So this discipline and curiosity, along with many other transferable skills can make a career transition a little smoother. The starting point of this transition, where certain decisions need to be made, is the biggest hurdle. The careers advice I received from the DCD was very valuable to me and highlighted a larger range of possibilities than I had initially considered. What I have learnt is to follow another passion just I did with dance many years ago and in doing so the rest will follow. I have also come to realise how important it is to pursue official qualifications in order to have time for reflection and eventually deliver ones ideas/subject with authority, confidence and enthusiasm.