While living in Waco I had little opportunity to perform and spent almost five years teaching dance at private studios, a community college, and other organizations. I am passionate about teaching but I missed the creative and physical challenge of dancing within a company.
We moved back to Houston while I was eight months pregnant. Needless to say, although I was happy to be back in the city and was looking forward to enjoying the dance scene here, my intense focus was on this new addition to our family. My new role is that of a stay-at-home mom and it is a “job” that I love. But, certainly in the beginning, it was a job that required much of my time day and night. Now that my son is over a year old (and I am no longer breastfeeding), responsibilities regarding my son are more equally shared between my husband and I. Therefore, I have taken on the challenge of returning to the performance aspect of my dance career.
Work in Contemporary Dance Art is rarely available as a full-time pursuit unless one is dancing with multiple organizations. At this moment in my life this is actually an advantage as my interest is currently in performing “part-time.” I have returned to dancing with Suchu Dance, a company I have worked with in the past. I enjoy the collaborative process of choreographer, Jennifer Wood, and I like being part of the creation of new, original work. So three evenings a week and on Saturdays I get to take a break from my suburban mommy lifestyle and address that little part of me that has been neglected for the past several years.
The return has not been easy. Teaching is certainly not the same as dancing and I found it difficult to maintain my athleticism while instructing full-time in Waco. Also, pregnancy and the resulting time away from dance certainly took its toll on my core, supporting muscles. I return to dance with a slightly different body – a little older, a bit less malleable, weaker in areas that I used to be very strong. It is an adjustment physically as I work in company class and within the choreography. However, the demands motivate me toward self-improvement. Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle in my return has been my confidence. It is something with which I’ve always struggled but moreso now that my body feels different than my younger, post-baby self. There are body image concerns that weren’t there before and I find I have to deal with these emotional barriers while overcoming new limitations in my movement.
Despite the difficulties and insecurities I am truly enjoying my participation in the creative process once again. Although perhaps not the most physically adept member of the company, I do feel my history and well-seasoned qualities offer something unique in this mix of individuals coming together to construct original movement art. Also, doing something “for myself” is rewarding and improves interaction with my family. I am a better mom for addressing and following my own interests and passions, even if it does take me out of the house for periods of time.
I hope to write more about my experiences, the process of creating dance art, and my roll as a dancing mama in this space. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts or experiences – encouragement is also most welcome!