PostPartum – Patsy Browne-Hope reflects on her Remote Nest Residency.

About me
My name is Patsy Browne-Hope and I am a Birmingham based choreographer, rehearsal
director and freelance lecturer. I am currently researching and developing a short dance film
based on the postpartum experience.

Transition
I am an ex-professional dancer who toured nationally and internationally with UK based
companies and decided to step away from the profession in 2015 to start a family. Having
my children and a break from the industry was like pressing a huge reset button. There
wasn’t much time to really think about dance at depth during this time but to be honest, this
was welcomed. We started a family knowing I wasn’t entirely certain where I would end up
work wise on the other side and I found this an exciting prospect.

As it turned out (2 children later) my passion for movement and dance had not dimmed – I
had just felt stifled creatively and needed a bit of time to lead a life not so consumed by
dance after 12 years of constant training and working. Before my children I was feeling
exhausted by the industry, a bit lost with direction and a bit low on self-esteem. After having
my sons I gained perspective, cared less about what people thought and once sleep became
a ‘thing’ again I felt ready to start trying to make sense of the world through my craft…
I decided my first stop with this would be ‘Postpartum ‘…..

‘PostPartum’ is a short dance and movement film with original music that intends to highlight,
celebrate and normalise the postpartum experience which sadly can be tainted by huge
societal pressures. Both pregnancy and early motherhood had unexpected surprises for me.
Strangers shared unwanted opinions on my body shape and I regularly heard ‘Mom
shaming’. Comments on how a woman was raising her baby, when they chose to start a
family, opinions on how much she works or doesn’t work, how they fed, how they slept.
Nothing seemed to be off limits.

As new mothers we can find ourselves spending hours on end with a screaming baby, a
body that doesn’t feel like our own and, thanks to raging hormones, a mind we don’t
recognise. We should probably ask ourselves if the intense scrutiny of mothers is really all
that necessary…

Why
My desire is to create some compassion through film; at a time when a woman feels most
vulnerable, we hit her hardest with our attitudes and judgements.

I want to create something where new mothers feel a little less alone and a little more
understood. How do so many first time Moms not know about all the bleeding, the colic, the
mastitis, the intense sleep deprivation and the detriment this can have to her mental health,
the loss of self and the knowing that eventually, you somehow manage to work it out.

Perhaps if they were armed with some knowledge, championing and solidarity they would
cope a little better and be a little kinder towards themselves?

Talking Birds
Due to the sensitive nature of the topic and my desire to work with women from the
community to help research this I was looking for an opportunity to test these ideas out on a
small and intimate scale.

I was thrilled to be selected for a Fledgling Residency to help explore this. As a result I was able to develop a private research group on social media and run an online community workshop led by Lindsay Jane Hunter (Therapeutic Art Practitioner). I undertook deeper research into the ideas and themes found here and was then able to collaborate with Katy Rose Bennett (Composer) and Oliver Whitehouse (Filmmaker). Dancer, Lucie Labadie, came on board to help me test and explore movement language specifically for film.

Reflections
This is the first time I have been able to so closely communicate with collaborators on my
own project idea. It has opened up many more questions for me and the vision I have for the
work going forward which is incredibly exciting. I recently secured Arts Council funding for a
larger phase of R&D into PostPartum and this development opportunity with Talking Birds has been the
perfect precursor.

I am going into my ACE activity more informed about how we develop this work, how I
successfully communicate my ideas to the collaborators involved, what works, what doesn’t
and just how far I hope to push the visuals for the final film.

Mentoring
The final part of my Talking Birds support was concluded with mentoring from Janet
Vaughan. I was able to spend time discussing the process, the outcome, what I would like to
do differently and most excitingly, potential life for the final film. We discussed, at length,
various venue ideas including unusual and outdoor spaces as well as partners to be
considered and approached for the film development. This will be hugely informative to my
next planning stages and I very much look forward to updating Janet on the project life!

Follow Patsy on Instagram

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