July 30, 2012

Live you dream : Motherhood and career in ballet. Do they mix?


I've come to a great article with the words that cannot be more true : 

 “You’ll be able to dance a lot longer than you’ll be able to have babies,” Toni was once told by choreographer, Karen Stokes. Though she has now found this to be true, (“I’m 41, still going strong.”), Toni had a late start in her professional career and thought she had to get in as much dance as possible before having a child. 

“I didn’t believe I would be able to dance after having a baby; that having both a child and an active dance career would be too demanding.” 

And more : 

Sara and Toni acknowledge that many professional dancers choose to retire from performance before having children.

 “It takes an amazing amount of energy to maintain a home and family when children are small. It’s a 24 -hour job.” Reflecting on what she has witnessed in contemporary dance, Toni says, “I think most mothers choose their families with the idea that they will return to performing as their child gets older. Then they find it hard to make their way back.” In ballet, a return after long absence is even less likely. Says Sara, “You have to want both. Not everyone wants to have kids while they are dancing.” 


{read the article HERE }

All I can say - I AGREE! 

The decision to have children young ( and add to it the fact of not being sure if marriage and family were in the plans at all for the next decade if not longer) was a bit intimidating. Scary sometimes. The typical suggestion given to me was " just wait... not now... you are still young". 


Having children YOUNG is the best thing - I believe - one can do to be a successful dancer. 

It is true that you need to want both. It is also true that it is a 24 hour job, sometimes feels like 30 hour job in a 24 hour time period. ( but then when ballet is not? I remember dreaming about what I do and working on turn out while eating dinner long before I had children. You just never stop ) 

 But it is the best decision I've ever made. 

I watched dancers that perfected their careers without families. I watched dancers that perfected their careers while juggling motherhood. Both can be done. 
I found that going through the motions of motherhood opens a channel that one did not know existed. It is difficult to describe in words. There aren't any. 

It is also a fact that daring comes with younger age.
Having gone through the experience of motherhood at young age - in my mid 20s was when I had my first child -  I am not sure I would repeat the same a decade later. As I grow older , I am not sure I grow wiser, but I do know that my fears of "what if" grow at a fast speed. I can see - completely -  how , when talking to many dancers that are my age now - they are fearful of what pregnancy may bring, what it can do and what it can ruin for them. Being in your 30s is a wonderful time - so far best ever , as you lived long enough to have enough achievements to look at - but at the same time there are plentiful of opportunities to not want to put your life on pause. I wouldn't want to, had I not known different. Had I not known that you don't have to. 

There are many things I could talk about forever. And it would take, probably, a book to describe all my thoughts of going through experience of motherhood while dancing professionally...With four children... ( i can't believe it still. Four? from ME?! I must be crazy. Except that I am SO. HAPPY) 
So, here I'd like to summarize to this:

To each its own time. There is no right or wrong to when one needs - if even so - to have a marriage and/or a family. But if there is a desire to... A longing in the heart, a dream... 
Then do NOT wait. Go for it. You will be happy that you did. There are no words to describe the happiness of motherhood. And there are no words to describe the feeling when little warm and squishy hands give you flowers and tightly hug your neck after the concert. No words to describe the extra boost of energy you get when you think of those warm cheeks and happy eyes that will greet you when you are done. No words to describe what it can compare to , because it can't.

It's worth the double work hours.
Every minute of it.

sara webb rehearsing pregnant



  1. I love when you write about this topic. It sheds light on something I rarely hear about. I personally know I will retire when I have children. I know I will miss the dance world immensely, though.

    1. You know, though, there are so many ways to be connected. I'm starting to get to the stage where im looking for for choreography - I love performing, there is no comparison , but I'm loving to create . Id love to direct a company one day - I'm just bursting with ideas that would take more then one person to recreate in life. I used to shun the thoughts of teaching ad shrug - it was not time, I hated it then. But now I'm learning owing in it . But then, I've been on stage for 20 years this year( crazy?! Mega crazy) , not counting the school and child performances, and it might be the time to move ti something more. :) who knows. I thought I'd retire with my first. Completely thought so. I took class , but didnt consider performing againf. I cries missing dance. So my husband pushed me to it. I auditioned when my son was almost a year old , took an offer , and the rest is history :)

  2. Ok, this is incredible and unreal, I really believe this.

  3. I gave up my career entirely when my children were young and now, 15 years later, I wish I had figured out a way to work part time. I miss it terribly and to get back in the industry with such a huge break ...well not really an option.(I'm not a dancer but I loved my career all the same)I think even working p/t in a different capacity but the same industry, helps to keep us current if we do decide to be more involved at a later date.


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