Being a working mum is hard at the best of times, but being a dancer and a mum can seem almost impossible to many. Not only have you got unsociable working hours, but being pregnant and out of action for several months can also mean you lose your regular performance or teaching job. However, as a relatively new mum myself, I think having a child might just make you a better dancer.
I have a big confession to make, I put of having a child for years because I just couldn’t see how I could continue my dance career if having to take several months off, let alone how I’d deal with the practicalities after the arrival of the little one. But as someone pointed out to me “things always have a way of sorting themselves out” and I think that’s very true.
I was blessed with a normal pregnancy, so could continue to dance, and did so, until only a few weeks before my due date. But the majority of my paid performances I had to stop as soon as my tummy started showing, which obviously affected my business. I was also gutted that I couldn’t perform in some of the stage shows that I had been working on, but as I simply couldn’t fit into the costumes it simply wasn’t possible, even if physically I could have managed.
You can see a video of me performing at 8 months pregnant here.
I was also worried how it would affect my overall career, disappearing of the dance scene for several months, but had to sit back and let go of most activities apart from my classes and lectures. I could easily have continued to perform, but even with a normal pregnancy there are certain things to be aware off such as overheating, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, and the release of the hormone relaxin in the body, which can cause long-term injuries if you don’t hold back on certain moves and stretches.
I’ve written a blog about belly dance and pregnancy, which you can read here.
Being self-employed means I was keen to get back to work as soon as possible after having my son back in 2017. I decided to start my classes again after 3 months, and performing after 4. In hindsight this was too early, as I simply didn’t have the time to recover from a very difficult birth and the aftermath, as my son was displaying signs of colic for the first 3 months. But mentally I really enjoyed escaping the house and being ‘me’ again. Before going of on ‘maternity leave’ I did try to find a teacher that could cover my classes, but it simply wasn’t possible. However, had I had one, I probably wouldn’t have gone back for at least 4-5 months.
So why does being a mum possibly make you a better dancer despite taking you out of action for over a year, not to mention the heavy strain on your body. Well it can be summed up as time, attitude and experience.
People will tell you to enjoy your time before your have child, but before your bundle of joy arrives you just don’t understand the pure impact this will have on your time. Time management becomes THE key thing to get you through nappies, feeds, lack of sleep and then teaching a dance class or performing afterwards. Even now that my son is a toddler, I still have to be very strict with my time, and think this has made me a lot more structured in my lesson and performance planning. I will still set time aside to prepare and rehears properly, but now I’m sure not to waste any time when doing so.
Also, with a limited amount of hours in the day you can’t expect to do everything yourself, so do ask for help where possible. Read my blog for building your dream team to help you here.
Whereas I could get really hung up on little details and dwell on a ‘bad performance’ before, I think having a child teaches you to see the bigger picture and be more relaxed about things you can’t really change. It doesn’t mean that I no longer care, but I’m more focused on living in the now and focusing on the positive.
I used to hate people who would tell me “when you have children you too will understand,” and although you don’t need to have had a child, I think there is something true about the challenges that parenthood gives, that also affects the way you deal with other ‘complex situations.’ Whether it’s a big show or a small local performance, there is always likely to be hick ups and stressful situations, and I’ve learned (maybe the hard way) not too worry about them.
A famous quote goes; “Experience is hard to gain and even harder to pass on to others.” When you have a small baby, child, yes even a teenager I’m sure, every day will provide new challenges, and you will grow your experience along the way. These experiences can be translated into other aspects of life too, including dance. This can help you deal better with people in general, or help you give a stronger more powerful performance.
Many of the best belly dance performers are in their forties, and I strongly believe it’s a combination of life experience teamed with the ‘I can’ attitude mentioned above that is the reason for this. As one of my students rightly commented “if I can give birth, than I guess can also dance in front of an audience for 4 minutes…”
Finally, having given birth you are likely to have a new found respect and relationship with your pelvic floor. Many people don’t realise just important this is for your entire core strength and ability to perform most of the moves we use in belly dance. This can help you develop your technique even more and also help you become better at teaching others how to produce the moves powered from the core.
You obviously don’t need to have had a child to have any of these skills, but on the other hand, you shouldn’t think that having a child will mean the end of your dance life.
Have you continued your dance career after having had children? Are you waiting to have children, because your fear how it may affect your dancing? Do you recognise some of the ‘super-powers’ I mentioned mums may have? Or do you think there are others? Please leave a comment in the box below and help inspire other women to keep dancing, no matter what…
Happy dancing – always!
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: Where to belly dance shop…