#180 Rosie Kay Is Here To Stay

August 15, 2022 FiLiA Episode 180
#180 Rosie Kay Is Here To Stay
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#180 Rosie Kay Is Here To Stay
Aug 15, 2022 Episode 180

"I didn't know what personal persecution felt like before. I could imagine, of course. But there is something very physical about those experiences of being hounded or being piled on by a mob that feels very visceral."

Rosie Kay talks to FiLiA's Raquel Rosario Sánchez about how she came to be forced out of the dance company that she founded after bullying from inside the organisation and a targeted campaign to ruin her reputation. The controversy arose from opinions, expressed inside her own home, that biological sex is real, material to dance and that these conversations must be had openly and without abuse.   

She will not go quietly. On the contrary, she has decided to push back bolder and louder than ever before.

Rosie Kay is an experienced choreographer and accomplished dance professional. She graduated from the London Contemporary Dance School in 1998, founded the Rosie Kay Dance Company in Birmingham in 2004. Her productions have been acclaimed for their creativity and their sensitive treatment of topics such as sexual violence, conspiracy theories and military intervention.

Since leaving the Rosie Kay Dance Company Rosie has launched a new dance company called K2Co, which is preparing to delve into the sex and gender debate, exploring it through dance. “K2CO will create, produce and tour three new works over three years as a ‘Trilogy of Sex’ exploring themes and ideas around sex, identity, technology, bodies, women’s history and literature,” the company states in its mission statement.

You can read her first-person essay ‘My body will not be erased’, which she wrote for UnHerd. And you can donate to her legal fees to help her move forward.

Learn more about K2Co Dance Company on their new website. Rosie can also be found on Twitter at @RosieKayK2CO.

Show Notes Transcript

"I didn't know what personal persecution felt like before. I could imagine, of course. But there is something very physical about those experiences of being hounded or being piled on by a mob that feels very visceral."

Rosie Kay talks to FiLiA's Raquel Rosario Sánchez about how she came to be forced out of the dance company that she founded after bullying from inside the organisation and a targeted campaign to ruin her reputation. The controversy arose from opinions, expressed inside her own home, that biological sex is real, material to dance and that these conversations must be had openly and without abuse.   

She will not go quietly. On the contrary, she has decided to push back bolder and louder than ever before.

Rosie Kay is an experienced choreographer and accomplished dance professional. She graduated from the London Contemporary Dance School in 1998, founded the Rosie Kay Dance Company in Birmingham in 2004. Her productions have been acclaimed for their creativity and their sensitive treatment of topics such as sexual violence, conspiracy theories and military intervention.

Since leaving the Rosie Kay Dance Company Rosie has launched a new dance company called K2Co, which is preparing to delve into the sex and gender debate, exploring it through dance. “K2CO will create, produce and tour three new works over three years as a ‘Trilogy of Sex’ exploring themes and ideas around sex, identity, technology, bodies, women’s history and literature,” the company states in its mission statement.

You can read her first-person essay ‘My body will not be erased’, which she wrote for UnHerd. And you can donate to her legal fees to help her move forward.

Learn more about K2Co Dance Company on their new website. Rosie can also be found on Twitter at @RosieKayK2CO.


Raquel Rosario Sanchez from FiLiA in conversation with Rosie Kay Is Here to Stay

Raquel: Hello and welcome to the FiLiA podcast. My name is Raquel Rosario Sanchez, and I'm the spokeswoman for FiLiA. Today we are over the moon to be speaking with choreographer, Rosie Kay. Rosie Kay graduated from the London Contemporary Dance School in 1998. And she founded the Rosie Kay Dance Company in Birmingham in 2004.

 Her productions have been acclaimed by the experts, the critics, and the public for their creativity and the sensitivity with which she broadcast topics such as sexual violence, military intervention, conspiracy theories and other related things. 

Rosie, we're having this conversation because your life has been extremely dramatic for the past six months, maybe a year and you have lost the company you founded and you lost work, you've gained work, but before we begin, how are you? 

Rosie: Oh, thank you for asking. I was just thinking about it. I am really good. Really, really good. it's interesting how this sort of comes in waves and phases and actually the past couple of weeks has been a bit more scary because I've kind of been a bit more public again, after quite a long time of not being very public. I'm really enjoying myself.

I feel back in control. It's exciting. And I like where my life is. 

Raquel: We're having this conversation, obviously you've been known in the art world for a very long time, but we're having this conversation because you sort of shot to the sex and gender stratosphere last December, when news broke about a situation that you had been enduring inside the Rosie Kay Dance Company.

Yeah. And it sort of began with the production of a ballet. 

Rosie:  Oh, well, I make contemporary dance. So a dance production, dance theatre production.

Raquel:  It was a dance production called Romeo + Juliet. And you had a young cast of 22 to 27 year olds. And, and this was the one of your first productions after COVID.

And you said that you noticed that the dancers were sort of separate, their moods were low and people were not really hanging out together. They were very disjointed. And then you decided, well, let's organise a party, let's organise a party to sort of break the tension and to have these conversations about, to sort of mingle with each other.

The cracks began kind of early on when you required because of the dance practice, you require some male dancers, some female dancers, and suddenly in the art world, we're having dancers who identify as non-binary even. What does that mean in that context? And then during this, you threw a dinner party at your house last August 2021. And this is where you wanted everyone to mingle. 

And at that dinner party, you informed the dancers that your next production would be based on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando is a story about an aristocrat who changes biological sex and gets to live for hundreds of years, but that began a very heated conversation or situation within your own home where you were hosting these dancers and without having to relive something that I imagine was very difficult for you, can you explain to us your thought process going into this dinner that you threw in your house? 

Rosie: Yeah, I mean, I tend to do it with most productions. The dance is an industry that really relies on a pedagogic tradition and there's a choreographer to dancer relationship that goes beyond a formal relationship. You mentor people, you talk with people. And I always felt really honoured when I would sort of spend time with people that I would've seen above me. It's the only way we learn and we share together and that involves huge amounts of trust, of actually genuinely caring about one another when you are on stage. It's not quite your life depends on it, but your body does depend on one another. And so if you've got an environment that feels a little uncomfortable or not relaxed, or judgemental, I don't like it. 

I’m somebody that's about building a vibe in the studio, building a vibe for a production, taking people like beyond their norms, like taking people to quite extremes. And I've got a real proven and track record of doing that with young dancers particularly and young female dancers particularly actually I'll get somebody from that's quite young and I'll get them big nominations at award ceremonies and stuff, through my work and through my sort of mentoring.

It's not easy. Of course, it's not easy demanding that, but I know what my standards are. 

So yeah, we were 10 days away from a premiere. I wanted to show them like a bit of hospitality. They had not been hanging out together. There were quite strict COVID protocols. People would burst into tears and I couldn't work out what was going on. I felt people were quite fragile. And of course Romeo + Juliet deals with some huge dark, big themes, you know, suicide and murder and sort of forced marriage. And I had like, like contemporaries’ gangs. I had a lot of drug culture, a lot of rivalry and competition and kind of power struggles going on in my production. We were dealing with big dark themes and I found that they weren't, I don't know, it just wasn't quite what I'm used to. It wasn't quite right. It didn't feel like they were really enjoying and eating up the opportunity. And I was sort of a little anxious because we were on a very, very, very big stage. The stakes were high. The critics were coming and a lot of these dancers, you know, because of COVID, some of them hadn't even done their graduation shows. 

So when I say inexperienced, I mean, they were really inexperienced and I wanted this young cast to look raw, but not so raw that they weren't able to deliver a top, top rate performance. So, it was about bonding together and sort of showing trust hospitality. 

I'd encountered the kind of gender ideology and the gender critical arguments actually through conspiracy theory research. I made a show about conspiracy theories back in 2017 and this stuff was sort of starting to build particularly I was coming into it through transhumanism, and I've been quite interested in how that inter relates between the high art sort of performance art, visual art world, and how that inter relates with the military world and the augmented body and the augmented soldier.

So that that's where I was coming in. And then sort of encountered this stuff around what felt like a new type of trans ideology. It seemed to kind of not come from what I'd understood from the nineties, looking at issues around transsexualism and feminism. 

While I was growing increasingly sort of anxious about it, sort of on a personal level, I also was very interested in a cultural phenomenon, which is what I do. That's my job. I look at great big cultural phenomenon, and I've worked with people like the University of Oxford, I've been trained in anthropological research methods. I've read my Fuchs, I understand embodiment theory and phenomenology. 

I come at things with a cult anthropological lens and with a real approach to bodies and physicality and finding ways to make really complicated things really interesting and theatrical on stage. So that, that was the choice of Orlando.

I'd been looking for something to hang my ideas around the body and sex and identity, and Orlando seemed brilliant. And I'd been working on this quietly for about two years, 

Raquel: By the time you told them that you next dance production would be Orlando; you had been working or thinking about it for two years?

Rosie: Yeah, so I had almost a storyboard.  I danced a lot of it. What I do is I just go into the studio and I improvise for days and see what comes out. And, that's my way in to both understanding it, to give this piece to somebody else, but also just to have a look at it and to go, right, what kind of style is this? What does this look like? 

So it was really far down the line and that week I'd been having like a back and forth between my management about the nature of the audition notice that was due to go out just after this party, we were due to publicly announce a sort of research and development phase because really the hunt for me was the hunt for this individual who could play Orlando, somebody that could play through 400 years of history and play a male and play a female and I just felt that has to be somebody extraordinary. 

I've actually danced male roles before in a few productions when I was a performer, when I was a professional dancer and I like playing with different physicalities. I've trained with the Rifles in the Infantry Battalion. if you play it right physically you can get away with where people don't know you're a female within an all-male infantry battalion.

So, there were things within it that I felt like actually the right woman could play this role really, really well, but I wasn't totally sure. Would it be a man? Would it be a woman? Would it be somebody who was trans, who identified, it didn't really matter how anyone identified to be honest.

I mean, it doesn't matter to me how anyone identifies, what matters is portraying that truth of the novel on stage, you know? And so that's how the argument began. 

There's been this fashion recently that if somebody changes sex within a production, then the new laws or the new laws of the arts, it has to be played by a trans.

And I said, but it's not a trans role, that's not what I'm talking about. This is a feminist novel by a seminal feminist writer. I've consulted with several trans journalists and people that I know I'm working with a book club, I'm working with poets across the Commonwealth, you know, actually I'm open you know, that’s really was how it started.

But then from there it got into arguments about definitions actually and I suppose at its heart, I basically I don't believe in gender ideology. I can understand absolutely the mental health of body dysphoria and also I see huge parallels because I've worked a lot with women with eating disorders. It's awful to be trapped in your body and that often can need help and support and empathy.

But, the erasure of the word women, the erasure of our sex-based rights discounts our sex-based oppressions. And I think at extremities has real dangers for women and girls. And I was forced to say so. 

Raquel: Let’s go back a little bit. So take us back to the dinner party that you threw at your house.

Rosie:  Well, it was just completely normal. It was just inviting people around to eat food, to drink wine, to play in the garden. I showed them around my house, there was nothing sort of un-toward about it. It just went on a bit too late. My husband tried to kick everyone out at about 1.30 but by then everyone was declaring undying love for one another. It all got quite open, quite free, quite relaxed. 

Raquel:  After the dinner party, where you had this conversation about Orlando, you know, some dancers complained to your Board of Trustees, the Board of Trustees of your dance company at the time. And then when you spoke to the media, this was in December 2021, the investigation was still open and you had lost access to your company's bank account, the company social media, the company email address.

And at that point, I think while the complaint was still open, you quit your company, the Rosie Kay Dance Company, because you believe that the tribunal that they were doing something internal to sort of judge, whether you had been a horrible bigot or not, that it would be unfair to you. So tell us a little bit about that hurricane there. 

Rosie: Well, it's slightly more complicated than that and it was like truly horrific. So, I think I was like really paralysed, really paralysed with shock, you know, facing a wall of very disgruntled dancers. It's kind of like your worst, worst nightmare as a choreographer, remembering we're just a few days away from a massive premiere and they seemed to personally hate me as if I had said the most awful disgusting things in the entire world. I kind of couldn't get my head around it. Like it was hurting my head. I felt like, hang on, have I gone completely mad? I was literally trying to defend the history and the rights of women. I believe in this and I think this is right.

 I wasn't in some sort of public forum where I was making this huge argument and debate and I'd prepared for it. I was in the privacy of my own home. And I was defending principles that I believe are vitally important to women. So I asked my Chair first to step in and I trusted her and then it very quickly dawned on me that she had immediately sided with them. And it transpired later that she had had training from Gendered Intelligence, which I would now classify as almost an extremist organisation. 

Raquel: So you began to feel isolated within your own company?

Rosie: Very much. And I sort of just had to get through the premiere, which was okay, but it was difficult. And I don't think this show was as good as it could have been actually. Everybody started behaving in a very strange way with me. Fortunately, I was getting support from my husband and my mum. And, so then I signed off sick. And they went through a four-week investigation first of all of which I said, okay, you know, fair enough.

 I've never had a complaint in my entire career. This is the first time it's happened. Do you understand what the issues are? You know, please read the Maya Forstater case, please, please get your head around what they are classing as transphobia literally could be anything that defines women's rights can be classified as transphobia. Please catch up with what this argument is because I can't believe this is happening to me, but I think this is one of these traps and I need you to come at this balanced and looking at it objectively and treat me with dignity and the company. 

Raquel: Did you feel at the time when you went into this process, this sort of investigation, did you feel that you would have a fair hearing originally?

Rosie: I always assume so, I sit on the Board of several other big, large organisations in the dance industry and I've been in actual probably actually worse situations, like, like worse situations. And I know because I've been trained in governance, my job is to stay impartial and to treat everybody with dignity and respect, no matter what someone's done, you, you treat people fairly and you listen.

And I absolutely felt that that just wasn't happening from the start. And I was really disturbed because I was like, hang on, this is not the right way to be doing this. Whether you agree or you don't agree that doesn't matter. We have a business to run here and we have a charity and we have charitable objects, which include Rosie Kay being able to look at controversial and taboo subject matters, that's written into our constitution. So the fact that this is a controversial issue is kind of like, well, of course, I'm thinking about these things and are you now policing what I talk about in my private life? Because, hang on a minute, where does it say that?

  Raquel: This was not something that you could explore? 

Rosie: This was it, it was sort as if I'd been speaking, like beyond the pale that there was absolutely no, there was such anger and as if I've done something, so absolutely awful and I couldn't get my head around it.

 I was so shocked. I was like that. Hang on. You know, this is genuinely, I mean, I think it's just been fascinating.

It was up for consultation. Self-ID is up for government consultation. Of course, women need to talk about this. This is something that's really vitally important to be talking about right now. And I don't agree that I should just be shut up. That's not right. 

Raquel: So from the moment that you went from like this disbelief that you, you are meant to, to challenge controversial topics, you're meant to be speaking and talking and creating productions about it, then you realise, well, there's this one topic that we're not allowed to talk about. From that moment to the moment that you decided - I think I need to step back from my own comment …

Rosie: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on Raquel because a lot more happened. I'll just be brief, but basically the first investigation exonerated me, but I chose to apologise because I was still upset that they were so upset, but then one of the dancers appealed because I didn't, something along the lines, I didn't own my transphobia. They walked out on the shows. They walked out on the company, but yet their appeal wasn't just upheld and it wasn't just like, okay, let's have a review of the first investigation. Yep. That went fine. Okay, sorry, your appeal is not accepted it. They actually started an entirely new second investigation.

So this would be now like coming up to sort of end of October, November time. So I've already, from August, been going through this for months and it started to go very dark very quickly then. 

Raquel: The second investigation after the first one exonerated you?

Rosie: Yeah, because this one person appealed.

So they then launched a full new second investigation. And by this point, I was kind of going well, this is getting a bit existential. I mean, I was ill by that point. I really wasn't well. I couldn't eat or sleep by that point. But by accident, they forwarded an email which had the chain of all the lawyers involved.

So I discovered that this was no longer being done by my Trustees, which I was told it was, but this was now being conducted by very expensive lawyers. They said that they brought in an independent, external HR consultant to investigate me, but I discovered they were part of this very expensive law firm.

And this law firm happened to be the same law firm, as one of my Trustees was a partner of. That first of all, started for me to go hang on. This clearly is not an impartial informal investigation. This now has gone on to something else and you are spending huge amounts of my company's money and reserves.

Anyway, there was quite a lot of nasty things. At the point I brought Peter Daly in and started to kind of fight back a bit and asked for subject access, state request and demanded to see letters that they'd been sending out, which they hadn't needed to do.

And I asked for a few days leave due to a relative having an emergency operation. They refused. And I got to the point where I realised I had absolutely lost all trust with my Executive Director of my Board. And there was absolutely no way that they were upholding their side of the contract as I saw it towards me.

So there just came a point where I had to decide to resign sighting constructive dismissal, as in: They broke the contract with me, not the other way around, they were not upholding any of the policies that I'd helped set up in order to protect anyone inside that company. But they were certainly not protecting me or looking at the long term future of that organisation.

I think they'd got to a certain point where they were looking at protecting their own reputations. 

Raquel: Let’s pause there. You had not done anything un-towards, by even having this conversation, you were just having this conversation about sex and gender, actually in relation to a dance production. And then all of these things happened.

 At one point you did decide to apologise and you wrote at the time: I'm devastated by how the night went and how much it has affected you. You met the dancers, it was never my intention to upset you. But I see now that I did so profoundly, I am truly sorry for this.

And then one of the dancers said that that apology was not enough because you hadn't taken true ownership of the fact that you had made transphobic comments. 

And I want to pause there cause time and time again, we see strong women, confident women, or merely standing, as you were saying, standing up for women's rights and we're sort of coercing into recounting.

We are coerced into saying, you know what, if this upsets you, I am sorry. And let me sort of try to be differential to try to calm the waters and what you discover as so many women around the world are discovering is that when it comes to this topic, nothing is ever enough. You know, even if you apologise, that's not enough. There's just no concession that is enough. 

Rosie: No, I mean, for the bullies, that's the thing. And I've spent a lot of time thinking about that because this is the kind of stuff that you read about in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, this is the stuff that you think of from cultural revolutions, where you are the heretic.

So it's not to do actually with anything that you say it's to do with the fact that you don't believe. And, and I think also what I'm discovering now, you know, really trying to work and support other women, particularly across the arts is that they see it, even if you don't say anything, even if you have learned to keep your mouth shut, to keep your job, they will be watching and spotting anything that kind of gives you away.

And so there's women I know in quite serious institutions in the arts who have just been keeping an eye on this and, and offering their support to people like me, or Jess De Wahls that have sort of popped their heads up above the parapet and got shot at for it, but okay. That’s fine. I'm an artist. I'm here to speak and to be free. That is what I'm here to do. But these women now are also facing possible investigations for minor transgressions. 

So I think at the time it was massively shocking. I had an absolute shock, but you are right. Now, I see a whole playbook. The apology, making things much worse. The escalation of the complaints that the kind of open letter, you know, just kind of destroying your reputation, the people that jump on from the sides, you're like, what's this got to do with you? This whole sort of feeding frenzy that goes on and to some respects, knowing that there's a pattern sort of slightly helps because you go, ah, okay, this is not just me. It’s anyone that speaks their truth, their rational, scientifically based truth, 

Raquel: Then everything becomes blown out of proportion. The issue was not the dinner party, but this was a dinner party that you hosted at your house. At one point, you decide to speak out, you apologised, they did not accept the apology.

At one point you quit the company and decide to speak out. And then some of the people behind this complained that you were then abusing your power by standing up for yourself and speaking out. 

Rosie: Which is just insane. I just lost my job, my livelihood, my funding, everything I built for 17 years, but I was not going to go quietly. I just relooked through the timeline actually. Literally just a few days before I decided to resign I started to think, right, what's my next strategy. What's my get out strategy. And one of the things was, I'm going to go public with this because this is not on. And also if I'm going to lose, there’s this point where you sort of have to really dig so deep.

And for me, it was absolutely an existential decision. They'd already cancelled Orlando without my permission. So it was kind of like, do I stay here? What conditions am I going to be allowed to still work for Rosie Kay company where I really was under this false illusion that I was free and I could make the art I wanted to make. What conditions am I going to sit under here and continue to be controlled?

Or what have I always done? I've always had to look to taking difficult decisions, possibly taking risks. Rebirth, restart, but that means I'm not going to shut up. I'm going to be free and I'm going to make the art I want to make. And, and that was a really strong decision and that has its own power in it.

Obviously it took me a little bit to recover and then it took me a bit to kind of work behind the scenes before doing these podcasts with you. It took a while because I wanted to be ready and I wanted to be like strong enough to really speak properly.

Raquel: And then you were accused of using your power as someone who has a louder voice than those dancers could hope for.

 There's something in your story that as I was reading the developments in your case, at one point you launch a crowd funder, so you could raise legal money for legal fees, so you can investigate, well, what position am I in after my whole professional career has unravelled. 

 I remember looking at it and I thought we know what happens in the sex and gender identity debate, but there was something about your story that sort of made me think, is there professional jealousy going on here as well? Because it came across like, no matter what you would do, it would never be enough.

And I wonder if with you or with some of the other women who stick their head out on this topic, if there is an element of, she has now become a fallen woman, so I can project onto her, whoever's the woman at the moment, all of the vitriol and the toxicity and the abuse that we have available in this patriarchal society, because now that she has crossed a line that she was not supposed to cross, then she's fair game.

Rosie: Yes. I wonder because I built a career on pushing it, working with the army, working with the military, making work about war, when that was deeply suspicious to the artistic sort of left leaning kind of art world. I'd been making work about conspiracy theory, being told that I was bonkers, or it was career suicide even discussing seriously what were the effects of conspiracy theory yet just as the work came out, Trump went into power and I was sort of proved, right.

 I'd been working on my own solo show that got fantastic reviews all about my life, my body. Why, as you get older, especially as an older dancer, coming back to performing, the experiences that have happened to me that are so specifically female experiences that make you and being able to talk about them on stage.

In a funny way, I was actually feeling towards the height of my powers this time last year, I was really feeling strong and I was starting to go, Hmm, I want to push it a bit further, I want to go more. I don't want to just make the work that people expect of me. I want to make really the next level now.

And I think you're right. There was something about the team around me were terrified and were scared. And I think when I made those more controversial works, I was still the director. And I voluntarily stepped down as a director in order for the company to become a charity that's because of English charity law.

But it meant that I'd lost power actually the day I did that and I had realised, and I hadn't realised and the work I'd been making since it became a charity, some of it was a bit safer. I made this lovely piece Fantasia, which was just about music and the emotions and dance. And it was very gorgeous, but I knew that I was starting to kind of go back into my more political territory.

And I think there was an element of clipping my wings of putting me back in a box and saying, no, no, no, you are not free. We control you. And I think you're right there, there was definitely elements of small minded, professional jealousy, and possibly some financial motivations as well in order to gain control. 

Raquel: But it was your company, and I think about how many female dancers who are really trying to stand out and become prominent in such a competitive landscape. And here's a woman who did, who had her own company and created her own dance productions. And, that's why I thought about the possibility that, well, this is our chance to take her down. Maybe this is our opportunity to go after her for something that we will get applause. I mean, the dancers who try to vilify you for your perfectly lawful beliefs, they got articles on the BBC. It's like you became this massive sort of maybe a power trip for some of them. And, and I think, you know what, you could make it as Rosie did starting from the bottom as a dancer, making it to the top and becoming renowned for that. Or you can just like throw stones at the fallen woman who is now fair game for abuse because of this topic. 

Rosie: Very strange isn't it, very, very, very strange times. I find it absolutely tragic actually.

Raquel: What was it like to decide I will step back? And then you went into the unknown because you didn't know what you were going to do. Today at the end of July 2022 now, you know, well I managed to do this, I did this. I can see the other side, but tell us about this moment in which you decided I need to step back from my own company. 

Rosie: Honestly, it was so horrific, I'd started to sort of like collapse at times when I would get sort of more news in, I'd started to kind of get fragile actually very fragile mentally.

My husband had been working in London and came home and I sort of managed to get my son. He was still quite little then. And, this new puppy, you know, quiet and asleep and in bed. And my husband came home and I was sort of propping my head up on the kitchen table with a glass of wine. And he, sort of laughed and said, you are like the narrator at the end of Fight Club, the Edward Norton character. And I was like, what on earth is he talking about film references, he's always on about film references. And he said, well, you know, Edward Norton has to decide to kill himself in order to stop himself. He has to kill himself to stop Brad Pitt destroying the world sort of thing. And this is what you are doing, you're having to make this decision to sort of blow your own head off in order to survive. And, and it was the first time I like properly laughed of Oh, my God, that's what it feels like.

The grief, I mean, I just lost my dad last year as well. And that was so awful cause he had a terrible end of life with terminal cancer and there was COVID and it was very hard to see him. And he was quite angry, for him and he felt like a bit too young to be going. And so that was quite a tragic and difficult time. 

And that was right the way through making Romeo + Juliet. So, you know, I'm trying to understand grief and suicide in my day job while also dealing with huge grief in my personal life as well. But then to have like, to grieve like yourself, it was such a weird sensation to know that you are sort of destroying, almost wilfully, but it really did feel like the only way to survive is to stop this. I'm not carrying on, I'm not dealing with this and these awful people anymore who have betrayed me. I'm talking about the board really here. I’ve just got to make this stop because I knew that the fallout then was going to also be huge, but I just had to make that bit stop in order to survive.

And really from the time I resigned, it was quite chaotic for a bit. But I did start to feel better and I'm a great planner. I must have reinvented myself quite a few times in my life, whether it's moving to Poland or moving to New York, I moved to Berlin with a suitcase or moving to Birmingham actually, and setting up a company. And then I had this terrible injury and I had to start my career again. And then after I had my baby, I had to start my career again. So, okay. I know how to start a career again. I know how to do this, but I've already got all this accumulated knowledge and experience and I'm much further on in my career. So I can just phone up all my contacts, all my collaborators, speak to my accountants, speak to my mentors and spend some time and think right, how am I going to do it differently this time? How am I going to make it so that never ever happens again? 

Raquel: At the time The Arts Council had made the Rosie Kay Dance Company a national portfolio organisation. That meant that it was on a permanent footing with an annual £150,000 grant. So it was a very successful company and then you turn it into a charity. What happened? Tell us what happened to the company after you left? 

Rosie: Well, to be fair to the Arts Council, I spoke to them before I resigned and I let them know what was going on.

The company was up for its next years’ funding, which was a kind of like extra year because of COVID, I really wanted them to know in advance and that there weren’t any really nasty surprises for them. And I've picked up the conversation with them from this year. And I've got to say the arts can have been very arms-length but very sensible actually. The week after I resigned, they were folding and then there's been quite a long and slightly difficult process from there. I don't feel like it's been handled the best and I've tried to sort of help sort things out.

Raquel: Without you, it just wasn't functional.

Rosie:  I mean; I was the sole artistic creator. All the work was made by me or were responses to my work. I did all the research. I used to write all the funding applications, all the money that came in was through my work. I only had another co-director and they were admin basically. So, you know, without me ... When they were sort of starting the second investigation and telling me that this was an HR issue as I was an employee, I was hugely upset and offended by that because of course it was so much more than that. To treat me as a sort of subordinate, junior employee was completely wrong.

And, I think also what really upset me was just this idea that I wouldn't know what I was talking about, you know, I'm renowned for having really, really long, intense and very deep research methods. This idea that I would just sort of spout bigotry or something, when actually I really do understand these complicated issues and I really do understand the law and human rights law. And through an access data request. I mean, this is one of those nasty things that you'll know about that you learn about afterwards. There was is a discussion between the Executive Director and the Chair looking at the different organisations that would help re-educate me, which included Gendered Intelligence or Stonewall or Mermaids.

And there's this moment of lucidity where the Executive Director says, but of course, Rosie's better read on this subject matter and would run rings around any trainer we could find. However, Rosie has indicated that these sorts of issues may be apparent in her future work. So I think we probably need to kind of nip this in the bud now.

So there was a very sinister sense of re-education going on there. I instinctively knew that at the time, but now I know that, and I've got the evidence of that, that chills me to the bone, but it also makes me know that moving on and starting again was the right decision. Absolutely. 

Raquel: Yes, it paid off. You don't have to comment on this, but I'm just thinking like, these people were so stupid, like, how do you get rid of the woman who runs the entire thing and then think that somehow that's going to be viable for you. I mean, was it a matter of not thinking through that, by getting rid of Rosie Kay of the Rosie Kay company, the whole thing might collapse. It sounds so short-sighted.  

Rosie: It’s bonkers, considering, like I said, it's written into a constitution. This shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone involved or had seen any of my work or heard me talk like these people that were supposedly, you know, they're called Trustees for a reason. They're entrusted with not just the short term or even the midterm, but the long term viability of a charity and that's charitable law. Yeah. I honestly would not have anticipated that this would've happened to me. However, we are living in very, very, very strange times indeed.

Raquel: So as you say, you knew you had to reinvent yourself and you managed to make it out of this very difficult place. How did you went about creating, reinventing yourself again, but now in this climate of the sex and gender debate, at what point did you decide I need to talk to Janice Turner at The Times? Or how did that happen? How did you get your story out? 

Rosie: so just a couple of days, a few days before I resigned, I got in touch with the FSU Free Speech Union of which I was a member. And let them know what was going on. And they were very supportive and they are a crisis organisation and they are trained to deal particularly now, with women in these really difficult situations.

And so I got sort of like some good level support, they put me in touch with other women that this has happened to. So that's my dog barking in the background. Yeah. So I contacted the FSU. They put me in touch with a few women that were able to just have a chat with me and support me.

And then one of the things was putting together a media strategy with them and with my mentor, who'd been supporting me and with my lawyer. It was amazing because number one on my list was Janice Turner in The Times, that was my number one. And she picked it up immediately. And so the day after I resigned, she interviewed me. 

And then the following day, it was a big thing in The Times, because it was both in the newspaper and it was a long piece, an interview with me. And really for me, that was it. You know, that was that. I didn't want to do endless extra interviews, that had done what I wanted to do, because it was both the news and it was the interview and then I published that piece in UnHerd, which I'd written in one of the lulls between the first and the second investigation. I'd written a draft of that piece then, almost in preparation I think actually. 

I kind of thought to myself, this will either go away and I will need to completely restructure this company over the next year or two, or this could get much, much worse. So I wrote that piece and that was published and I felt that, I had made certain decisions about what I will and what I won't say in public. And I stick to those rules, and trying to just focus a lot on the art I want to make. All of these experiences will inform my art going forward. 

I read things like Dostoyevsky or Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol in completely different ways now. I didn't know what personal persecution feels like before, I could imagine of course. 

There's something very, very physical about those experiences of sort of being hounded and being piled on by a mob that is very visceral physical experience, isn't it?  

Raquel: It is, yes. And you feel like you're being made into this unhuman being that is just completely lacking in humanity and that's how they justify, well, we can do this to her because there's no person at the other end of our attacks.

Rosie: Well, so just somebody said to me something really interesting yesterday. One of the things I was trying to point out about the dangers of this ideology is the long term health effects of these drugs on children, these puberty blockers. And I think I'd made this slightly overblown statement, you know, that children being turned into eunuchs because I'd been reading Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch when I was researching my solo show, I'd gone back to all second wave feminism and a lot of first wave feminism as well, actually in preparation for making this solo. Somebody said, yes, isn't it funny that you Rosie were cast as the villain and not these people that are sterilising children. It's remarkable. You, the person saying, hang on, I don't think this is right. You are the villain. It's just remarkable and it's wrong. 

But when you're on your own and there's a mob shouting and pointing at you, shouting burn her burn, you do think, oh my God, what have I done? 

Raquel: It's sort of the only way that they can perpetuate the facade. If you think about the true extent of what is happening to women and children, when it comes to gender identity policies, putting female women in prison are being impregnated by men who identify as women, you know, the sterilisation of children, girls growing up with a sense of dissociation from their bodies because they're groomed into it, the whole thing. The only way to sustain it is by casting any dissenter as a heretic. So everyone who can see what's actually happening is too scared because they would say, well, look what happened to Rosie Kay, she lost her company.

We’re going to go back to your article in UnHerd, My Body Will Never Be Erased but I wanted to touch a little bit on the flip side of all of these horrible things that happened, which is you went through your dark night of the soul, and then you decided, you know what, I will reinvent myself and launch a new company. And you have launched K2CO, which is a new dance company by Rosie Kay. And it is a female-led company. The new company will focus on creating cutting edge, bold and brave new dance works to tour in the UK and abroad. And your program of work includes, five-star sell out shows, including 5 Soldiers, as well as some other themes exploring matters of history, imagining the future ,transhumanism, Virginia Woolf and sex and power. So tell us about your new company. 

Rosie: Oh, thank you. Thank you. The first thing that sort of happened to me in January was, I sat down and thought about what works on my next works. Where do I want to go next? And I just sort had this explosion of creativity. It was really, it was brilliant. It was really exhilarating. And I was like, I am going to absolutely go for it. I really, really want to look at the body, women, rights, transhumanism, technology. So I wrote this trilogy of works that sort of like sit independently each of their own, but together make three works over three years that are like a big, massive statement about the state of the world right now.

And so the first piece is a sort of near future dystopian world where a woman wins the right to have her ideal body. But actually what happens is her entire physical body becomes obsolete and her digital body, her digital self becomes the real her. So can you imagine you are sort of trapped in a physical body that that has become meaningless but your digital self is the star.

So, I'm working on that at the moment. Part two will be Orlando - 

Raquel: You will do Orlando, everyone's going to see it. 

Rosie: Everyone's going to see it. And I think it's going to be really funny. I just think it's funny. The book is funny. It's very witty. It's a love letter to Vita Sackville-West. It's a play on style and stylistic bravado. Virginia Woolf is showing off that she can write in any style of the past 400 years and make it work, you know, building to this absolutely incredible stream of consciousness. 20th century and let's bring it right up to 21st century. So I think it could be really super theatrical and fantastic costumes and fantastic, witty, funny performances.

And then the third part, I want to look dangerously at this link between power and sex and pornography. And so I've been working for quite a few years, looking at the work of the Marquis de Sade in terms of like reference to Angela Carter the Sadeian woman so trying to put a feminist perspective on stuff that really is the dark cutting edge of where so many arguments of now are, but where we can also read about this in history. Marquis de Sade made this very same famous statement where he said he wanted to peel back the eyelids of society and make people look.

And I've always kind of rather loved that quote. The purpose of the arts, we're not here to entertain although it can be very entertaining. We're here to shock and provoke and challenge and peel back the eyes and make everybody look at their own society. And, in some ways take responsibility for that.

But also not to pretend these things aren't happening. So it's a brave trilogy of works over the next three to four years.  

Raquel: Is it a matter of maybe you were not shackled, but maybe constrained at your old company and now you get to look into your productions with a boldness that maybe wasn't there.

Rosie: Yeah. Like I said, I'd been playing it safe for a couple of years. And then I think there was sort of a concerted effort to, I mean, not just clip my wings, but probably hack my wings off. So, you know, my wings are still there and that was the first thing that came back was the creativity, the imagination.

I mean, I've even got a trilogy of works after that, that I thought up as well. But, but I I'm like, hang on, hang on, hang on, calm down. And, so that was it. And once that fire, that absolute fire of creativity is in you, then it burns really strong. So, my next job was really just to start talking to people and saying, hi, I'm still here, still alive. you remember me? Do you want to meet, do you want to talk, do you want to hear what I can't say in public, but I'll let you know what went on and oh, can I talk to you about my new vision and the works and let me get really excited about this. Everybody said yes, and everybody wanted to hear about the ideas. 

So, once you've got that kind of going in that support system around you built, I built a little team around me. I built a team of advisors around me. I've got this amazing advisory board again that's female-led people.

People from feminist philosophy like Dr Jane Clare Jones, somebody from the military, somebody from business and Jess De Wahls another amazing artist. And then somebody from law, somebody from charity and Jonzi D, who's an amazing hip hop choreographer. So got this great team of people around me. It's just so exciting.

I go to them with like proper questions. This isn't an administrative task anymore. This is like really going, right, how do I do this? What's the strategy for this? And that's been really exciting. It feels like when I started up 17 years ago, it feels like that it feels really fresh and new and exciting and thrilling.

Raquel: The purpose of K2CO is to create dance of the highest standard and to tour in partnership with the best theatres K2CO will create produce and to enter three new works over three years as a trilogy of sex, exploring things and ideas around sex, identity, technology, bodies, women's history and literature.

The company will focus on the importance of sex and gender in society in history and in the arts currently, the company will also focus on ideas around freedom of expression and censorship, what the purpose of the arts is to a society and how K2CO can play a part in demonstrating this through the words created through conversations, training, and through connecting with audiences in person and online.

So you read this, you go to your website, which we will link on this FiLiA podcast on the text. You see this and from the perspective of the people who are trying to shut you down, it must be like an abomination, you know, because it just comes across like everything that they did, they wanted to prevent this. And instead of you going quietly into the night, you just sort of decided, no, no, we're going to go big. We're going to go bigger. We're going to go home. And then you just went big and, and you created the worst nightmare, which is a company that is really going to be talking about these topics and the stupidest thing that they have done. I mean, getting rid of you in that company, when you were doing pretty much everything was pretty stupid, but the stupidest thing was also that they just sort of lit a fire in you and by targeting you, they have given you a profile that maybe is bigger than the one that you had before. So they increased the attention that this topic would have gotten you before.

Like everyone's going to see Orlando, everyone wants to know what is this big, controversial thing that this woman was creating that got her into so much trouble. So it all backfired. 

Rosie: Oh, I hope so. I hope so. There's been a lot of holding my nerve, it's not just like, wahey here we go. It has been tough and you get a lot of knock backs and you get some really painful stuff, whether it's professionally or even in your own friendship groups. This stuff seems to divide people, but I know where my head is with this. I've always been a liberal tolerant, collaborative artist, but I've also put my little toes, my dancer's toes into dangerous situations and grown and learn from them.

And there's nothing like facing up to your fears and not just walking straight into them, but like running into them and going right, come on then. I want to get my head around this. I want to explore this. I want to put it on stage. I want everybody to think about this and talk about this. And this is really important. This is like a phenomenon of their times. We need to be talking about this stuff. Not hiding away. I stand by it. I just don't know what the purpose of the arts are if we're not really looking at what's going on right now. 

Raquel: It would be interesting to think back of that moment in maybe before you went public maybe November or October 21 and see if she was worried that her career would be over.

And now we realise no her career did not end on the contrary. It just became revitalised. 

Rosie: But you know what? I think this is like something so strange about dance. Like because I've had like these crises in the past, it's a profession that chucks you out. You don't have a choice in the matter whether it be, you know, you don't get into dance school or you just fail every audition that you'd go to, or you fail every single funding application or your work gets terrible reviews. You will just be like cancelled. It is a brutal, brutal art form.

It was just weird. I did have this thought like, well, yeah, if that's it for me, Kay, you had a pretty good run. You didn't expect to do anything. I didn't even expect to get into dance school. I didn't expect to get a job. I didn't expect to be where I got, where I was.

Raquel: You’re really good.

Rosie: The gods of dance will tell me, I'll know it in my heart and soul. And I won't flog a dead horse, I won't, but that just didn't happen. It didn't happen on lots of ways. It didn't happen inside of me. And it didn't happen inside the profession.  I got a lot of support and I got a lot of love and I just felt right.

The other thing is you don't realise how many other people have been through probably not something quite as public or as politicised as what happened to me. But a lot of people, a lot of women have been through things that have been really difficult and they come to you and they tell you their stories and how they got through and how they got attacked, how they got shut down.

And so you start to realise, I mean, there's a bit of me that just thinks if you are a woman and you reach a certain point, there is going to be some kind of take down. You just attract it. And if you speak and know your own mind, you're going to be a particular target.

And so there's a little bit of me that just thinks, gosh, this actually happens a lot more to women than I realised. I was sort of a little bit in my own bubble because I've never really bothered about what other people think. I care what audiences think care very much and the critics if they don't like my work.

I care about getting that art out there. But I'm so obsessed by what I do. I spend most of my time thinking about the art, not what the people around me are thinking of me. And I think that in itself, people hate that. 

Raquel: And you were put in a position in which you had to stress about what other people were thinking about you, because they were judging you actually judging you. This complaints process put you in the sort of the naughty chair for misbehaving. And then you have all of these people who have given themselves the moral authority to judge you as a person. When someone, when a woman is accused of transphobia, it's not like, oh, you litter the streets. You know, it's a moral judgment that you have been a bad person that you are a flawed character and it's meant to make you feel so ashamed and so demoralised, it's about giving the inquisitor the power to judge and rule others. 

Rosie: It's such a trap, isn't it? Because if you try and say, but I'm not, transphobic you immediately walk into their world.

Whereas the actual definition of trans, like I said, at the beginning, I can understand body dysphoria. I have trans friends. I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem where it starts to infringe upon the law and definitions and women's rights. And that's perfectly okay to say that. 

And thank you to Maya Forstater for going through what she went through to know that it's worthy of respect in a democratic society. it's just so much been going on, each time I listen to Allison Bailey's trial or to Maya Forstater’s trial, so much of the same patterns of treatment. These are really, really successful, important women.

I've been talking now to lots of artists to hear what's going on with them, and it's almost more painful. Oh, in your case, of course, I was listening to that as well. it's almost more painful when you hear it about someone else than it is about you, because I think what you try and do is you rationalise this hounding. Somewhere deep in your childlike soul you think that somehow you are to blame or that you've brought this upon yourself somehow, but when you see and you hear it from someone else, it's so clearly horrific bullying, it really is. And so there's been recently speaking out a little bit more, again, like I've had to kind of have a few days to recover because it brings it all back up again and you think, oh, I'm over that. And then you go, God, I'm not over that, that was really awful. That was really awful. I didn't deserve that. 

Raquel: No, it's taken me a little bit of time to sort of just get back inside of my own body. Because when it was happening to me, it felt like, it was a crisis that I had to manage. My background is in Shelter or like women's refuge and violence against women. When you're in a crisis in shelter or refuge, you just have to manage it. And it's a little bit like you compartmentalise your emotional processing of the situation. You have to put it in a little box. I'll get back to that once the crisis is sorted, but first I need to sort of like manage whatever it is that is happening. And then I think that I just did that for years. You know, it's like these things were happening and I was being targeted and the university was so unhelpful. And then obviously we knew the direction that they were taking, you know? So it just felt like, okay, Raquel, we're in a crisis. We just need to put one foot in front of the other. And then at the end I will sort of tend to my emotional help and my emotional wellbeing. And it just feels like now that the court case is over and the judge sort of gave me the sort of validation of saying yes, what happened was violent and threatening behaviour and is unacceptable. Only after that happened I can holistically integrate all parts of myself and just be like one person instead of this separate entities that get here's Raquel, the one that's trying to do the PhD, even though it's not working out, here's Raquel the one that's coping with the bullying, even though she doesn't have the mechanisms to cope in this completely different country, but now it's like, well, now there's only one.

And this process is sort of coming back to not having to compartmentalise because I'm in crisis mode. It's taken me a very long time, longer than I thought. 

Rosie: I sort of can compare it to, like when you have a serious injury, your body doesn't know, and your brain doesn't know the difference between like one and 10 on the painometer. so like you are sort of recovering from a really serious operation or something and you're testing it out and it immediately goes to 10, you say, oh my goodness, that's I I've really injured myself again. What you have to do is retrain all your pain receptors and your brain to start to have all those middle numbers again.

And I really feel like that was the sort of best analogy with what what's happened to me over the past six or seven months coming up towards a year now, you know, emergency response goes straight up to 10 and I'm managing to pull that down now I'm more like it's seven or eight, but I can feel that even, not mundane things, but, but I'm on high alert. I'm still on high alert and it's shifting, it's changing and I'm starting to find more middle numbers. But I think it takes time. And I think also you talked about like, just the lack of focus. I'm going back into the studio I find things that used to be complete flow for me in terms of like my warm up and my ballet bar and stuff. I have to kind of make myself no, stop, check your email, just putting like time back in and not being like immediately ready for an emergency response at all times. It's adrenaline training and cortisone training. Isn't it? That you, you have to allow your body to get back to that. And that's hard, there are sometimes there are situations where I think, oh, hang on I need to be very alert here. Be very careful. You don't quite know when you might get another, even a little attack coming at you. 

Raquel: And that’s something I really resent from this whole movement that it is training women to be constantly on edge. Think about all the beautiful, powerful things that we could be doing if we didn't feel like we had to be on edge all the time. Speaking of bodies and the physics of things, I want to read a little bit from your essay in UnHerd, it's called My Body Will Never Be Erased. 

You wrote:

A dancer's life is physical and challenging. You cannot escape your body. I started training when I was three years old and I have endured scoliosis, hypermobility, chronic knee pain, as well as multiple injuries. I've broken bones and my jaw, while dancing, I've had steroids injected into my neck, multiple surgeries and pain you would not believe the joy the pleasure of my embodied reality is worth it. I know exactly when my period is due the sensation of ovulation and the weight gains pre period, that affect my balance, my flexibility and my confidence. I understand the pressures of aesthetics, the desire to be thin, to be ripped with long length, to be fast and athletic is never ending what you should or could be as a female body in my art form.

Rosie, I wanted to talk to you about what you just described and this very curious moment that we're living through right now, in which we are meant to repeat the claims that we can sort of transcend our bodies and that biological reality is irrelevant because at the core of all of this movement, gender identity policies is an attack on material reality.

And you have a very interesting perspective because you come from a medium in which your body is your tool. So, how do you understand this notion that we can do away with biology or biology is irrelevant.

In the Allison Bailey case, there were so many great moments, but they said things like, well, without a gender identity, you are sort of nothing, you're just a corpse.

We're living through a moment in which society's been indoctrinated to believe that biology doesn't matter when we know that biology is fundamental to everything. 

Rosie: I mean, it really does feel like a profound attack on female power, female creativity, female reality, female embodiment. This ideology can only have come from male minds. And as far as I can trace the research it does come from male minds to sort of separate, particularly the reproductive powers and also the reproductive oppression that women face because of their reproductive powers, this idea that we can be defined by our body parts, as opposed to like our humanity is abhorrent to me.

I mean, I remember sort of really thinking about this, particularly when I was pregnant and I found that the world around me actually became quite hostile and I was very surprised, but I didn't realise, I know more now, at the time that yes, pregnant women are attacked and prone to attack far more than non- pregnant women, you know, random things. People sort of shouting I was a fat bitch on a train and somebody pushing past me in an aircraft. I was taking up too much room and I'm like, I'm a pregnant person. 

I'd just been doing some work in Dubai and everything's so corporate and there's peacock and flowers and everything sort of designed for this corporate man or corporate male identity and this, you know, financial and corporate world.

And then you're going to kind of get your baby scan and the toilets are broken and it's dirty and there's nowhere to get anything to eat or drink and just the sort of level of prenatal care, like how sort of humiliated it made you feel, you know, and it's like, no, no, no, it should be the other way around and I should be coming from my pregnancy scan and there should be fountains and music playing, and we should be like really rejoicing in this kind of complete and utter miracle of this other person growing inside of me. It's just so remarkable. 

I think like for me this does feel like quite a profound moment. And I do understand that that younger women may want to think of themselves as non-binary for example, or gender nonconforming. And I understand where that comes from as a sort of like tomboyish girl myself, when I was younger, I think as you get older, you very much become more aware of what's happening to you is happening to you because you're a woman and it starts to build up. 

I'm only just sort of realized, at that point where I was feeling that my work was getting booked for my work not because somebody might have wanted to sleep with me and I immediately passed through that line and became a middle-aged bigot it's like, oh, what, what just happened there?

And I think this is the moment where I would love a universe where the feminine power and sort of the goddess was truly worshiped. These are ideas I've been thinking about for a long, long time. I mean, one of the, sort of most profound sort of realisations of working with the army and looking at war on a philosophical level, was this kind of like the power to kill being the only equivalent of the power of giving life.

And it's such a different dark, dark power, the power to kill the training to kill the preparation to kill what that does to your psyche, to your mind, to your soul, to your body and what it does afterwards, the aftermath of killing or being in killing environments, changes people. Of course it does. Profoundly changes people.

And we have a responsibility as a democratic country, if we send our soldiers to war, we have a responsibility to bring these people back into society and this is like the next level. It's like the next level for me, this is even more important than war and warfare because underlying it is something to do with the sanctity of motherhood and birth, and that connection between a mother and a child and a baby. And while I can see that not everybody wants to be a mother. And that people who might not be heterosexual also want to have children and babies. This has to be done with really, really considerable thoughts and ethics. This can't turn into a sort of biological factory.

And I think that's where it's going, the technologies are being developed. So I think we have to fight back as women. 

Raquel: And, and because you're a dancer, there's something very interesting happening in your field because for a very long time, the art world has been grappling with body dysmorphia or body disassociation from, I would suspect from both sexes.

But we understand because of patriarchy, you know, girls go through oftentimes eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. And here on top of that, there's this this layer of, well, what if you are not even female to begin with, you know, it feels a little bit like we are promoting the disassociation of young girls or young women from themselves, rather than trying to bring them together.

I was mentioning about my experience after the trial, trying to just be Raquel instead of being compartmentalised, just go back to being one person it's like, now we're trying to split the aspects of young women by teaching them, well, no, you're not a woman. You're something else.

Rosie:  I know, it's really quite heart-breaking isn't it? I was working a lot in eating disorders, that's a really difficult mental health condition and the different layers of care that, that trying to help women recover from that as opposed to the gender so-called gender affirming care, which says, if you want to sort of deny that you are a woman on a profound level, we will help you with it straight away.

I think Keira Bell was incredibly brave because I think there's long term implications. I didn't want a baby till my late thirties. I sort of wanted a baby. I'm not really sure I want my body to go through that, you know, I certainly didn't, when I was a teenager, want a baby, you know?

So that, that idea, I wouldn't change having my son for anything in the world. It's been the most wonderful, amazing, incredible thing. I absolutely adore him and I adore all of it, but I wouldn't have necessarily known that at 15 16, 17 years old. And those long term health implications of taking particularly the effects of testosterone on the female body is really profound, profound difficult changes in the body, that really worries me. What care are these women going to get? I think us as a feminist movement will have open arms and welcome any woman back in, but my God, what a cost to pay on your lifelong health implications.

We should all be reading Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer as young teenage girls, which is what I did because my mum was a radical feminist of the seventies. So, you know, these books kind of fascinated me and I snuck away and read them. And I absorbed a lot of that. I assumed everything was getting better. I still definitely sort of motored under that kind of misapprehension that everything was getting better until suddenly it was getting much worse, all of a sudden.

Raquel: So in essence, your cancellation was never going to work because they messed with a woman who had been reading Andrea Dworkin since she was in her teens, it was just never going to work. It was only going to backfire. These people didn't know that they were messing with that's the whole point. 

Rosie, so I'm so happy that we managed to speak today because I'm going to tell our FiLiA audience that we had to rerecord this podcast. When we talked a number of months ago, you were in a position that was a little bit more bleak, you were trying to crawl your way out of the fug and things were not clear. And then I saw you at an event at Jane Clare Jones’ book launch, and you just look so radiant and full of life and so excited about the future. And I just thought, how are we going to release this podcast with this woman who made it through one of the most challenging situations that can happen in your career.

So having done your duties and gone through the ringer, what would you say to a young woman who wants to speak out about this topic? Maybe it's a dancer like you maybe come from your own field. What would you say to those young dancers who want to have a voice and explore these subjects and have these conversations, but they could be frightened and say, well, look at what happened to Rosie Kay and she lost her company. I don't want to be cancelled. I don't want to be targeted like she was. 

Rosie: Yeah, you're right in the past few weeks of doing like a lot more behind the scenes with artists I absolutely understand that danger and I would say unfortunately I'm not sure we're at the right stage to just speak out. I wish we were. I think what you can do is you can contact me through the website. There are amazing women's organisations out there that absolutely saved my life. Like FiLiA, WPUK Women's Place UK, Transgender Trend, Women's Rights Network. there, there are amazing organisations you need to start to get in touch with them. And meet other women in person and start talking to other women so that women of so many different ages are the resistance. There is an actual resistance in any profession you'll find women that are resisting and some men that are supporting, we are piecing it all together. We're building a resistance.

There's definitely hope. It's definitely not over. And you start to align yourself with this support network and then you find your way through it. You find your way through it. And there will be the right moment where you can just be kind of relaxed about it. Well, you know, this is what I believe. Or of course this is why I'm working with Rosie Kay I agree with her. 

 Some of us who are public, we didn't ask for this. You know, however, if this is what's happening, I'm going to use it. And I'm going to sort of force a wave through like a dancer, be really flexible, dance my way through this.

Space will open up behind me and more women can step into that and we can speak as one. This is like a new era for me and we need to collaborate and talk be together. And that's really exciting. I've met the funniest, funniest, amazing people through this whole experience.

 And that has given me, like you say, just so much life and light and joy. I'm not going to regret this at all. This has been an interesting, difficult, but ultimately character-forming time. 

Raquel: That's beautiful. Well, thank you for speaking with us and spending such a lovely hour and a half with our audience. Congratulations on your new company.

And I am so, so, so pleased that you've just managed to make the best lemonade out of a bunch of sour lemons. 

Well, thank you so much for everything.