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Animated Edition - Autumn 2008
A career not a job...
Independent dance artist Ruth Spencer balances a rich career with a rich family life
This is very personal but, for me, there is a significant distinction between a job and a career. This isn't based on any dictionary definition or any sociological study but on the world according to Ruth:

A job - something that you go to, do the work you are required to do, leave at the allotted time and don't think about until you next 'clock in'.

A career - a way of working that enables the practice of your work to inform and develop, not only, your working skills and ability but it also enriches your understanding of the world and your life into which it connects. You, personally, invest in enriching your skills and understanding throughout your working life and you give thought, energy and application to the practice both inside and outside of your working hours.

So what!
Big explanations but what does that really mean.? Well, for me, it means that I need to keep myself interested and curious about my work so I have a sense of moving forwards and developing. Over the years, that has involved discovering what makes me 'tick', how I can move my thinking and understanding on and how I can change. The key, for me, has been to develop my creativity and to connect the physical 'me' as a dancer/performer and the learning that I gain through this into my teaching and facilitating work.

My definition of a 'job' is dry, extreme - don't get me wrong there are certainly times when I like to go to work, come home, close the door, flop out and not give the day's work a backwards glance but. before long, lots of tall dark shadows start creeping in. I'm a fraud.

Can I actually backup what I am spouting forth about within my practice - the hunches, the ideas, the information gleaned from other inspiring practitioners? Am I being congruent between all the different groups that I work
with? Can I connect my personal values into the core of my work?

And do you know what? I love it! It requires no great piece of academic research. It's the picking up of a book from the shelf and pondering a couple of statements from it. It's reflecting on the clarity of interaction I observed within a school that day between a pupil and teacher whilst cooking my children's tea, it's 'Googling' a resource or an approach that someone mentioned in passing with my evening coffee. It's about enjoying being a part of a huge jigsaw and picking up bits of information about how it all fits together, making connections, slowly, slowly, bit by bit, never knowing what's just around the corner.

This all sounds fine and dandy but it does have implications, particularly when it rubs up against the day to day realities of work, home, children, family. I've always felt adamantly that there is no point me going out and 'changing the world' if my own family end up feeling neglected and in need of attention. I will always find a way to keep my family life as rich and precious as it should be. But it 'ain't easy'!

So what are the trade off's, what's the reality?

Here are some of mine:

(6 photographs of; a clock face showing 1am, a pile of administrative papers, a car boot full of equipment, a google map, a traffic jam and lots of washing hanging on a washing line)

And what makes it all worthwhile?

(1 photograph of primary school children leaping and dancing around a large room)

contact ruth_spencer@lineone.net

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Animated: Autumn 2008