Updated: Feb 16
I was a dance major at CUNY Queens college when I found out I was expecting my first child. My boyfriend, now my husband, was super surprised and excited by the news. However my biggest concerns centered around my ability to balance out being a mom and a dancer. I took 5 dancing courses and one psychology course while I was 6 months pregnant. I was also doing liturgical dancing at my local church and I had a part-time job. ( yes, this was a lot and my pregnancy was not a planned one) How did I balance all this out? I began involving my daughter in what I love the most. I danced my whole entire pregnancy and when she was born why not continue dancing.
My classmates and dance professor were supper supportive. Everyone took turns holding, caring, watching over my daughter even dancing with her. We actually created the most amazing pieces from just having her in the room. Observing the movement of an infant gave us more insight into the broader capabilities of the body while moving (I secretly did create a little ballerina in the process). She was always in the studio. Even when I teached, she was with me.
Don't get me wrong it was hard. Sometimes she would cry no matter how much we danced with her. Then there were times I had to miss rehearsal or class because she was sick. There were long tired hours. Sometimes I felt embarrassed and silently judged for constantly needing help with my daughter. My biggest worry was missing dance opportunities, dance workshops and gigs. I was even worried that my body was changing. However, with all the negative thoughts and doubts I realized it was all God’s timing. It was His timing that gave me this precious baby girl and His timing that allowed me to still be able to dance when I can. I wasn't at every performance and I did not do every single piece but when I could dance it was amazing. With the support of my friends, the faculty and my church we all balanced it out. I stopped dwelling on other people’s dreams. I put my attention toward focusing on my own brand of dream: being a dancer and being a mom at the same time. A lot of people have the misconception that being a dancer is a wholly whimsical way to dream, however, I strongly oppose that idea. What makes dancers so marvelous is the way it is integrated into the minutiae of living. It's our way of life, every bit of it is an expression of how we feel, how we move, how we navigate through the world around us. I believe it could be whimsical as well as rooted in practicality.
Once I graduated from Queens College, my path to performing changed into using dancing with therapeutic technique. I decided to pursue a career in dance/movement therapy. To this day I make time to dance when I can. Someone once told me that you can do all that you want to do but, you do it in different seasons. In one particular season I’ll take a dance class once a week or I'll search for local dance projects that need dancers. The next season what I am focusing on is spending much needed time with my daughter. Currently, I am on my third child and I still make room to dance for myself. Dance is my love, my self care, and my journal in which I express myself on a body level. Find the season that you're in and don't give up on being a dancer because once a dancer always a dancer and once a mom forever you will be a mom.
Here are six tips for you to balance out being a dancer and a mom.
Have an open communication with your love one’s around you about what you are trying to do. Be honest, and be assertive. Express that you will love to continue dancing full time or part time and how you can still be present for your child.
This also means talking to your company. See where they stand on the matter, if they would be willing to accommodate you and come to a mutual agreement. (sometimes this is not possible, then it is up to you to make the final decision for your life, your dreams and your family) and find better dance opportunities.
Find or create a support group who believes in you and you can trust. Family members, friends, partner, spouse. Work out a plan/schedule when someone will be willing to watch your child.
3. Search for dance opportunities:
Start researching workshops and dance agencies found locally (if you prefer not to move)- and again plan a schedule for childcare so you are able to attend. If not, call or email and see if it will be okay to bring your little one with you.
Also set for yourself a dance budget, how much will cost for you to attend workshops, classes or any other dance expenses.
Create your own dance opportunity:
Take the time to research and create your dance company, classes or performance pieces. Maybe you want to focus on other dancers who are moms. This gives the opportunity to bring your child along to rehearsal, studio time etc.
Be kind to yourself:
Yes you are a mother, a role that you play 24/7 and 365 days a year but you are also an individual with dreams, hopes, ideas, values and beliefs. Don't allow it to stop you from pursuing what gives you joy because being a mom is not easy. It's a road filled with imperfection, mistakes, and challenges. But this will all pay off. You will look back at how much you enjoyed doing the two great things you love.
Take care of your body: Lastly and most importantly, take care of your body. Your health is a major factor in pursuing your dreams and taking care of your child/children. If you are not well, then how can you take care of any other human or even dance. Having a balanced healthy diet, a physical workout routine, and relaxation to ease the spirit and mind are integral to your dual roles. It will not only keep you looking and feeling your best but keep your body, which is a dancer’s instrument, in tune.
Khadijah Abdus- Samad