I’m carrying an extra 15 lbs in front and an extra big smile when I stand at the barre these days: my 6 month old Tiny Dancer is strapped in for the ride and it’s even better than I thought it would be.
I was extra excited to dance with her on October 4 – World Ballet Day 2016. I dressed Moira in the tutu onesie we were gifted with this summer, plus some baby legwarmers and - for the ultimate dose of cuteness - the pink, baby-sized ballet slippers.
| Mid-Pas de Cute!|
(Step of the Cute)
After the photo shoot captured the moment for posterity (and her future graduation and wedding slideshows), I strapped her in her carrier, took the obligatory selfie, and we danced together once again.
We were joined by our YouTube friend, former New York City Ballet Soloist Kathryn Morgan as her Easy Ballet Barre Video began. As I went through the exercises, accompanied by Kathryn’s beautiful piano music of Disney and Broadway hits, Moira cooed and giggled, smiled at our reflections in the mirror of our office ballet studio, and kicked her feet along with my movements. She already has quite a powerful grand battement and sometimes the shoes end up across the room, however the slippers stayed on that time.
I still modify the exercises so I can do them with her safely. The first time I tried a grand pilé in 1st while wearing her, everything cracked – my hips, my knees, my ankles – and I couldn’t get back up without pulling on the barre. Not exactly proper grand pilé alignment! So instead, I work on deepening my demi-pilés in 1st, 4th and 5th position and only go for the grand in 2nd.
All port de bras need modifying too, since it’s not safe to bend forward at the waist or too far to the sides while baby-wearing. I always take her off to stretch and for the final grand battement exercise. Other than these modifications, this is an excellent barre video to do with a baby. Her extra weight really makes me work on proper alignment through my core and the footwork strengthens my feet and legs. I still stand by my standard disclaimers that I’m not a health care professional and you should consult yours when planning to baby-wear while exercising and do what’s best for you.
And did I mention how much fun it is for the both of us?
It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing a basic ballet barre! Though I want to keep working on the basics and maintaining proper technique, I’m not out to be the perfect dancer or to impress anyone. My main goal, when I strap on my baby and step into my ballet shoes, is to be in the moment and just enjoy dancing with my girl.
Because this Mom thing is a hard job.
The nights are long and some days are filled with doubt and second-guessing. But it’s also full of so much joy. Dancing with her is joyful and I consider it a huge victory that it’s an activity that balances taking care of her with taking care of me.
Dancing with Moira has also helped me get motivated to get back into dance class shape. My goal is to keep working through Kathryn’s videos along with some yoga, so I can take more dance classes in Paris in the New Year.
I don’t know if Moira will want to dance when she’s older and I promised myself (and my husband) that I won’t be one of those Crazy Dance Moms if she does dance. It has to be fun, first and foremost. That’s the moto my mom went with when I was a young dancer and it’s a good principle to live by.
I do hope that our dancing together helps to instill an appreciation for music and movement. I want her to enjoy being active and moving her body. I want her to be happy and healthy and to find many moments of joy herself.
Until then, we’ll find them together when we dance our special pas de deux.
Some tips for Dancing while Baby-Wearing:
1-Check your baby’s diaper first. Unless you want a new definition of Dirty Dancing, this is just common sense.
2-Make sure your baby is secure in their carrier. Common sense again.
3-Modify exercises when necessary. See my suggestions for modifications to grand pilé and port de bras exercises above.
4-Watch for your baby’s sleepy cues. Sometimes the movement and the music can lull Baby off to Sleepy Town (You're welcome!), so be prepared to press pause and resume after you've put your Tiny Dancer down.
5-Have fun and make it your own! I like to talk through the exercises with Moira, hold her little hand or even say the counts out loud to her.
I also never pass up a chance to share an extra smile or funny face in the mirror with my girl. That’s not something I can do in a regular dance class and that’s the whole point(e).
Happy Dancing to All Dancers, the Big and the Small!