Patricia Okenwa is a mother, and independent choreographer following 12 years dancing and choreographing for Rambert.
Stabat Mater- Exploring Motherhood
My project Stabat Mater started with the provocation by Roberto Casarotto to use this revered catholic text with many famous musical interpretations for a new solo for B- Motion festival this summer. At that point I didn't know I would be pregnant through the creative period, but my mind immediately went to my own experience and also the unimaginable pain of loosing a child.
I also tapped into the sense of loss and reinvention of my own identity through the experience of being a parent and how challenging an experience it has been.
My own journey as a mother has been full of learning, failing, love and creativity. It has completely changed how I wanted to work as a choreographer as it is connecting me to a new primal strength, whilst constantly challenging everything and pushing me to my maximum willpower, endurance, emotional capacity. This experience has become a catalyst for creating work.
I think, before I had my son I took my equality as a woman for granted, but this experience has shown me that there is still a long way to go to allow parents and women in general to realise their potential, whatever it is they want to achieve.
I was able to take time out from touring in the first year after my son was born and met people outside of the little bubble that had made up my dancing world and this also changed my perspective on work, family and my own goals. I became interested in Birthlight yoga and started training to become a pregnancy and baby yoga teacher. I could see how integral the work of motherhood was to life in general and how important it is to support families.
Coming back to the company was a huge challenge, but also a revelation, when I managed to reconnect to my dancing body, feel my physical strength and control and had the opportunity to create choreography. There have been ridiculous moments when, what I was doing didn't seem to make any sense as we paid for childcare, stressed over covering tours- especially when we were both touring, my partner is a musician- and there was sometimes little energy left to tap into joy.
Last year I left Rambert as a dancer to fully dedicate myself to choreography. This has been a big step for me. Giving up my precious full time work to make space for my own creative vision to take shape and develop.
Through everything I keep meeting other dancers, choreographers and dance teachers, who have children and I always feel we share much and have our many ingenious ways to make dance and motherhood work for us. Still, we don't get together as a tribe.
The exploring motherhood workshops are part of a research for the performance piece 'Stabat Mater'. I don't want to preempt what we will feel and find, but with all the individual powerful mothers I have met I am hoping that this will be an enriching experience and a treat.
With this project I wanted to make a little space for connecting mother to mother, start something new and am hoping to learn more about how motherhood feels, in particular how its physicality feels and eventually where this could lead in a dance performance.
The workshop is on Thursday 25th May at
Rambert, 99 Upper Ground
Lambeth, London SE19PP
Time: 10.00 -11.30 am
Other: For more information and to book your place contact Project Assistant Sonia Illescas at: email@example.com