Our Stories - Anna Lowe

Having trained at Laine Theatre Arts, Anna enjoyed a diverse and successful career as a professional dancer and actress, performing in new works and revivals in both the subsidised and commercial sectors for companies including the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Chichester Festival Theatre. She also worked extensively in London’s West End as well as on tour in the UK and abroad. With DCD’s support, Anna successfully transitioned into a new career and is now a Programme Manager for The British Council.

"Having successfully carved out a role in the career I had always dreamed of, towards the end of 2010 I made the decision to retire from performing following a period of uncertainty and unhappiness. I chose to re-train for a new career in arts administration but in the midst of a financial recession and at a time when jobs seemed scarce, this proved more challenging than anticipated. With no administrative experience whatsoever, I was strongly advised to develop my skillset and I undertook a series of courses at CityLit before taking on an internship in the Development department at Shakespeare's Globe.

I was awarded a discretionary grant from Dancer's Career Development to further my education in the cultural sector and following my time at the Globe, went on to work as an intern and subsequently Culture Programme Coordinator for Ruth Mackenzie CBE and the team of 35 who delivered the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad as part of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. During my time at London 2012 I project managed ‘In Praise of Sport’, an inclusive and non-discriminatory arts project, in association with prisoners at HMP Wandsworth as part of London 2012’s successful ‘Inspire’ programme. The piece, a commemorative book, was exhibited at the Hayward Gallery, the V&A and won silver in the Koestler Arts Awards.

Following a period of freelancing, I joined the British Council in 2013 as Project Manager, UK/Russia Year of Culture 2014, a year which celebrated the rich and diverse cultural relationship of both countries and delivered a programme covering the arts, education, language, sport and science. I have gone on to work on International programmes which celebrate and showcase the UK’s innovation and excellence in the arts and creative industries in Mexico, Nigeria, Korea and the UAE.

Whilst working professionally, I mentored for CDET's Aspire Project offering advice, support and guidance to a vocational mentee and in 2013 and 2014 I acted as a volunteer mentor for Dance United, a contemporary dance based initiative that worked with young people who were marginalised in society and whose potential was often unrecognised or unfulfilled. I continue to maintain a relationship with my mentee who successfully re-entered the education system and now holds down two part-time jobs.

In terms of advice I’d give dancers facing transition, my main mantra would be ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Calling upon the drive and networking capabilities that got you to where you are in your performance career, is really all you need to take you where you want to go next. Of course deciding where to go next can often be the sticking point so my advice would be to try a few things out and see where they lead, you really only stand to gain things by saying ‘yes’ and who knows where you might end up? I think it’s important too to try not to be frightened of ‘failing’. You learn more by getting things wrong than getting things right but it’s understandable that sometimes pride – or even perfectionism – can get in the way.

It may seem strange for dancers/performers to consider themselves as extraordinary because being disciplined, determined, creative, meticulous, detailed and ambitious is something they just are without even thinking about it, but all of these qualities go a very long way to helping you stand out in a different context and with unique experiences to draw upon, dancers often have a refreshing take on the ‘norm’.".

To find out more about how we can help you, please contact Ellen Chambers, Dancer Support and Services Officer on ellen@thedcd.org.uk or 020 7831 1449.

You can support a dancer like Anna to navigate career transition through the boundless appeal

"With unique experiences to draw upon, dancers often have a refreshing take on the ‘norm'".