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Rethink. Reskill. Reboot. Julia Pond’s journey from dance to tech and back

Fri 30 October 2020

The Trinity Laban MFA student explains why we need to encourage highly trained professionals to keep making art.

There has been widespread anger about the now-infamous Government advert depicting a young dancer putting on her ballet shoes with the tagline “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet)”. Shouldn’t Fatima be able to keep dancing? Just ask MFA in Creative Practice (Dance Professional Pathway) student Julia Pond who spent 9 years working in tech and watching her creative work suffer, before deciding to return to dance full time – with a creative reboot at Trinity Laban.

“I’m basically a pre-Fatima Fatima”, she notes.

Having trained at Boston Conservatory and built a successful international career as a freelancer, Julia began what was meant to be a parallel career in tech nearly a decade ago. When asked why she decided to shift direction in her professional life, Julia explains “I was living hand-to-mouth in a traditional starving artist kind of way, stressing about where my rent was going to come from. I was burnt out on that life and I wanted some interesting work that would allow me to relax a bit about money.”

Julia “inadvertently” climbed the corporate ladder, moving from part-time Editorial Assistant at a start-up to the VP of Content and, following an acquisition, to Head of Editorial Content at a large digital travel company.

Julia hadn’t initially intended to forsake her artistic roots, but as her work in tech flourished, she felt her creative life slipping through her fingers in a way that left her miserable.

“There was a dissonance between who I was as a person and what I was doing with eight hours of my day. It just wasn’t compatible.”

So, in 2019, she decided to ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ and quit her “steady” job to return to the arts, enrolling on the MFA in Creative Practice at Trinity Laban.

The course, delivered in partnership with Siobhan Davies and Independent Dance, offers a space to nurture interest and develop artistic practice. Designed to encourage a stimulating environment of intellectual and creative inquiry, it is open to students from all backgrounds and experience, be it traditional routes or unexpected pathways.

It may not be the ‘retraining’ the UK Government intended but reclaiming her creative identity has been life changing for Julia. She has even been able to incorporate her experience into her MFA research.

“Dancing has always been at the core of who I am. […] I’m so much happier than the decade-or-so I spent at a tech company.”

Julia’s professional journey from dancer to tech and back is testament not only to her passion and skill, but to the value and necessity of our creative industries.

“We need to be seeing what we can do to keep artists making art and not encouraging highly trained professionals to learn to code,” urges Julia.

Julia’s quotes, as told to Precious Adesina, are taken with kind permission from the Telegraph article ‘I’m a real-life Fatima – but pivoting from dance to cyber made me miserable’ published 16 October 2020.

Headshot credit Angela Dennis

Black and White rehearsal credit Christopher Mann

Dancing credit Sammi Fang