The New York Times published a fascinating article about the pandemic-fueled baby boom in the ballet world. Whatever qualms or anxieties I had about balancing my legal career and my family really paled in comparison to the dilemmas these professional ballet dancers face:
A dance career is relatively short, and so is the window for a dancer to have a child. It usually happens later in a career when stage credits or time with a company is already established. So while the baby boom is a joyful outcome to a terrible situation, it also brings to light the real struggle that many dancers, particularly women, face in deciding whether and when to start a family.
A dancer’s schedule — fluctuating rehearsal schedules during the day, performances at night — can make family time difficult. How sustainable is it to have a baby while balancing eight shows a week? What if a Broadway show had two casts or fewer shows?
Here I was lamenting the potential challenges of squeezing in pumping sessions at work or during a trial, and these women's livelihoods literally depend on them getting their post-partum bodies back to tip top shape.
All dancers will have to get back into fighting shape, but there are bigger challenges for new mothers. Pregnancy, of course, adds weight; it also changes the alignment of the body.
One silver lining:
In having someone else to take care of, a dancer’s performance quality can change. Watching dancers who have recently had children can be a thrill: The stage is their time to be alone, and they’re not about to squander it. They live it. Stafford has noticed that dancers often come back as better artists after having a child.
After reading this article during yet another 4 a.m. feed, a new sense of resolve materialized in me. This morning, I went for a run for the first time since having Billable Baby. My lungs struggled. My muscles ached. Even though my time was terrible and I did not get very far, I felt the newborn fog slowly lift with every step. I am so excited to run again -- running to get my old time back, running toward my first half-marathon, and running to find that elusive work-life balance.
Image feature: Zhong-Jing Fang of American Ballet Theater. "Fang believes her artistry will inform her parenting: 'As a dancer and choreographer, I love conveying that darkness is always overtaken by light. And that’s what I’m going to teach my daughter.'" If you want some serious motherhood inspiration, check out Fang's instagram.
Image credit: Maridelis Morales Rosado for The New York Times