3 Ways Becoming a Mother Made Me a Better Dancer
I grew up as a ballet dancer since I was four years old. The older I got, the more time I spent in the studio practicing and on the stage performing. I loved it - it had a way of transporting me out of reality and into a new place that felt euphoric. I knew how hard the odds would be to become a professional ballerina, but after a successful hip surgery and a hugely disappointing and abrupt end to my days as a dancer, I hung up my pointe shoes.
This may seem silly that I’m writing about how becoming a mother made me a better dancer, given my background, but it bears sharing. That’s because I still find myself dancing around the house, and I know how much “better” I am than before, and I can only credit it to motherhood.
1. I give way fewer F*s now
It’s true. I have so much less to lose than I felt I did as an insecure pre-teen. When I break into a dance at home, I just don’t care what my kids think about my dancing… I just dance. As a young dancer, I was focused on the technique and perfection. Now, I turn on music in an attempt to change a sour mood in the house, to make chores more fun to accomplish, to give my kids an active indoor proverbial “shot in the arm”. Have you ever started a random dance party at home? It’s pretty entertaining…
2. I feel liberated by my new identity
Birthing a tiny human and surviving the initial days, weeks, months and years of raising them is a huge life achievement. I have morphed into a new version of myself since becoming a mom and since dancing is in my muscle memory, it’s a way I reconnect with my younger self. In a physical way I come full circle back to me. While I don’t get the adrenaline rush from performing ending in a cheering audience, I revel in the pride of being better than ever before. I’m finally able to dance with full emotional investment - something I felt too timid to express as a young dancer.
3. I can connect with my children through dance
Dancing can be solo or a team sport. You always start in the corps de ballet, never as a soloist. You learn to dance as one unit together before you’re in the spotlight. Some of my closest friends to this day are from my early days of dancing. Some of my first awareness of love connections were with my male dance partners. For centuries all forms of dance have been a part of creating community. There’s a unique connection that is forged from it. From age-old tribal dances to modern nightclubs, dancing together is a life-giving experience. These connections can be felt when we dance with our kids, too. It’s an innate means of expression that is within each of us. All kids love to move and when they hear music, it’s a new kind of movement that connects us deeper to ourselves and then to one another. Dancing with my kids is a bonding experience. They see me in a new way and I see them in a new way.
One of my favorite books is called "Balancing Acts - Three Prima Ballerinas Become Mothers" by Lucy Gray. Lucy brilliantly captures the unique stories of how three professional ballet dancers navigate their careers as they transition into motherhood. The accompanying pictures are a charming glimpse into the life of these beautiful mothers and dancers. While I never became a professional ballerina, and I am certainly less capable of all the magnanimity that is ballet, my adrenaline rush is now a gratefulness for the connection I can create within myself and with my mini-me's. #babyboldly