January 30, 2012

Live your dream

For a very long time I wanted to start series that would break certain stereotypes concerning life, marriage, professions and motherhood.

The one that is very personal to me is professions and motherhood. In more details - DANCE as a profession, and motherhood.

As many of you already know, I am a professional dancer. Never, ever  did I think in my life that I would be a person that would get married young. More so, have children.  I contemplated , possibly, one. Maaaaybe, two - at very most, but after I am retired and over 35. I had plans for a well-set career, a car ( in Europe this one is NOT a necessity , as in most places in US, but is a luxury) , an apartment or a house...
I have not reached that 35 year old mark yet.  I am married. I do have a car ( though I refuse to use it for my daily run-arounds. Health is first, Lovelies! Health is first...); a house;  a very well established , successful and fulfilling career in dance with nice addition of being acknowledged as a choreographer, and... I have four little sweet-bugs. Four.

If someone were to tell me this , say, ten years ago, I would LAUGH and say to whoever it was that they've got some crazy imagination. I would never consider it.  My love for dance is too important and my career started young - as to many in Europe, at 13 to be precise. I was raised on a very strong stereotype about what a real dancer is supposed to be like. Please, note the real part. It was seen that one cannot combine both - motherhood and the demands that dancing discipline has for one's body. It was seen as impossible. Undo-able. Ridiculous.
I remember witnessing the dilemmas that many young women faced : marriage or career? Motherhood or career? In 90% of the cases career won. After all, there is a very strong selection of the dancers throughout the schooling years, and those that were not devoted enough were "written off" long before they were even faced with this decision, never even making it into real professional world. Note , that the modern day queen of ballet - Maya Plicetskaya is childless by choice. Her art is her child, as she said it many times herself.

So, in my mind the decision was easy - I chose the stage, until my "magic 35". With my career starting at 13, by the time I came of "age" ( 16 vs american 21), I had plenty of experience. By 18 I knew exactly what I wanted. In going with the flow I moved to US. By me-self onsie. By 22 I successfully turned down two offers from two very nice men, and was completely involved with my life and career. And that is when I stumbled and met "the one"... To make a long story shorter, let me just say this:  I made it very clear what my plans for my life were.

He made a very swift and unexpected move.And I accepted.

About half a year later we were expecting our first child and, while I was thrilled, the stereotype that I've been raised/trained/taught with started to have it's effect on me. I stalled my career. I was lucky to be able to take university technique classes throughout pregnancy , but I was sure that was "the end". I would HAVE to transition to teaching that I was also conditioned to despise this young. Teaching is for retired, not young... It crushed me. I remember my son being 3 months old, and me crying one day into my mom's shoulder while watching one of my old performance videos from NYC. And I remember her telling me , probably more of a motherly love, then anything else - she has stronger stereotype imprints then I ever had - " Don't cry... You can still have it all ! So you have a child, and?? Just pull yourself together and keep going". Though I shook my head then, her words seeded that crucial "maybe..." in my all-too-willing mind and heart, and I started to test the ground. It was not as easy as it appeared to those around me, but it was also not impossible - as I was conditioned to believe. And this is really where the first real thought crossed my mind that I actually can be what I am - a dancer, and a mother. Just as a women is designed by God to be. And I took the chance.

Fast-forward through several years, all 10 of them. Years filled with jobs, performances, national and international shows, tours, wonderful ( and horrible too) company directors , discoveries of my passion - and acknowledgement  as - for choreography(er) .  And through these 10 years I had the rest of my 4 children, blessed to be able to continue dancing through every pregnancy until "THE day", and back working, at latest, 3 weeks after the birth. I'm always busy. Insanely busy. And I love every minute. I cannot imagine my life without both parts. but my stereotype was not the only one that had to be shattered on my way to success. And I believe that anyone can do it.

I have been encouraged by so many to tell my story. And I will. But I think that hearing from more then one person and their own ways of climbing the mountain will be even better. Motherhood enriched my life. It made me be an amazing dancer - forgive my saying so boldly. Not technical - that part takes double effort, but when does it not, really - but expressive. The vault of the emotions that I have unlocked when I had my first child had only increased and deepened over the years, unleashing something I never knew I had inside. It saddens me to think that due to stereotypes women are forced to deprive themselves of something that makes them whole beings.

My hope is that these series will help all those that need it just as much as my heart needed those words from my mother long 10 years ago...

Til next Monday! Tune in tomorrow for some Les Femme!

PS please, don't hesitate to email me, leave a comment or contact me in any other way if you'd like to be featured in Live your dream series, or know someone that should be.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Olya!

    I am from a distant country, I live in Guatemala in Central America. My name is Mariel and I am a profesional salsa dancer (or so I consider myself to be). I have my own studio with my husband (which is also a dancer) and we have been competing together with our company.

    Not so long ago I got the news that I was pregnant. I am currently in my 17th week of pregnancy and went through the first 12 weeks unnoticed about it. I had lots of rehearsal during those first weeks and then found out the baby was doing ok despite the fact I actually never took special care of myself (cause I really didn't know). Now I am still teaching and still dancing, just not doing any areals or complicated stunts. I just simply can't stop dancing, I really makes me so happy that I can't seem to stop despite people constantly asking me when will I stop cause of pregnancy issue.

    I have been searching over the web ever since I found out I was pregnant, some kind of confort and support to continue with my dancing and feel that this is not "the end" of my profesional career, and I THINK I FOUND IT IN YOUR WORDS!!! I feel encouraged to keep on going! I had already made plans on continuing my dancing after giving birth but so many people around me seemed to doubt me and honestly made me think twice if I was just dreaming.

    I am not a ballet dancer but certainly have trained ballet to improve my technique and absolutely love it! some days I wish I had found my passion in dancing sooner, but I guess that happens to more dancers that I can possibly imagine.

    I decided to write to you to basically THANK YOU FOR THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! I have found the necessary inspiration and motivation to see that I can do it! Its my first child so obviously I am going thru a lot, emotionally speaking, and was torn apart between work, career, dancing and motherhood. I will have to work hard for it but now feel convinced that I can do it.

    Thank you again and lots of blessings to you in your wonderful life!


    Mariel Aquino
    Guatemala, Guatemala
    Salsa in Motion Academy


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