Can I even write about this? Can I do it justice? I feel I must try. (Inspired by a post by Melena at African.Dance.Drum.Life!)
Dance speaks differently to each of us, and through each of us. Different songs and rhythms pull different bodies in different directions. A good standard jazz tune can’t keep me in my seat. A bad country song will find me not only leaving the dance floor, but the room, too. That’s just me.
Talk about an addition! This amazing occurance does such new and strange things to our bodies and minds that dancing becomes a completely new experience all over again – and new again in a completely different way when a different pregnancy comes along.
When swinging and floating in the arms of my love, it’s heavenly. We’re reminded we’re not alone when a belly bumps between us, and we giggle. He forgives my unsteadiness, missed steps, tiredness… as he recognizes my body is a new skin each time I’m on the dance floor. We work so hard at finding and moving from our cores, as dancers… but when our core is filled with an entirely new being that “finding our center” becomes profound and sometimes overwhelming.
The dancing I love to do most is social – it cannot happen alone. “I want to dance with the pregnant lady,” someone shouts across the floor! I’m dressed in an adorable little cherry covered dress with my belly popping out all over the dance floor. Only, the one who shouts out never does ask… and neither do any other single men. An aspect of the dance has ended – the flirtatious curiousity of exploring new dancers. I feel lost for a piece of the dance I love. It doesn’t happen to my husband. He still asks/gets asked by the single girls too. But only a small handfull of men see me anymore, though they smile appreciatively at the belly. Others remark, “Oh how cute!” and “I want to dance when I’m pregnant.” Do they have any idea what they’re saying?
The emotional aspect now involved in dancing, I cannot begin to explain. Others’ remarks are both welcome, and painful. The social dynamic, a whole new aspect. And most of all, there’s the relationship between myself and the new life inside.
My first son (we did not know it was a boy until it was born) loved for me to dance. He would complain with kicks when the music and movement ended. “But I’m tired,” I might say. “I don’t care,” I could almost hear him, “keep dancing!” Practice for conversations we would have after he was born. “You will be a dancer,” I would think. “At least you will share my love of dance!”
Some people love being pregnant. Some people feel great. Some have it easy. I think the SOME must be emphasized here. I believe it is a very small SOME. I never expected to love being pregnant. I did expect the physical hardships.
I began ballroom dancing my senior year of high school, 1996. I auditioned after learning the basic Cha Cha steps, and made it onto our school’s first ballroom dance team. Rehearsals were very early in the morning, and our coach would bark at us about the littlest thing. I hated her. When I got the part in the school’s musical, being at school from 5a.m. to 10p.m. became too much, and I quit the ballroom team. Visiting later, I discovered the coach was actually a nice woman, and completely changed after her baby was born. She was just a grumpy pregnant lady.
What I did not want, more than anything, was to become that grumpy pregnant woman. Oh, well. I was most certainly grumpy while pregnant. But I don’t think I took it out on any of my dance students. Instead, dance was an outlet I could work through my grumps, and physical difficulties, and connect with not only my center, but with my child.
My first pregnancy was a sensual one. I was constantly in the mood for some real down in-it blues dancing. Constantly. Or Belly Dancing would do. Rolling movements… with a round body… is something else.
My second pregnancy was a compeltely different story. It was harder. I was VERY tired. I did not *want* to dance. I never looked forward to teaching my classes, or helping out at practicas. However, when I did start moving it was so much easier, suddenly. With the right partner, or the right song, or when I was teaching, I could forget about myself and my tiredness and enjoy life again. But it wasn’t easy.
And then came the point where I couldn’t dance. That was heartbreaking. I had never wanted to get up, and now suddenly wanted to, when I couldn’t. I would still go to teach my classes – and let my husband lead physically, while I would sit and DJ and instruct from the sidelines. I had many mothers among my students who watched out for me. When I would get too excited and start doing something with more energy they would begin joking about me going into early labor. (I have to say the months-worth of pre-labor I had helped the real labor go along vey well, I think.)
I feel this has been far to rambly, and not getting out what I’m trying to say. I wonder if I can answer something more directly. Here is something I want to answer from the post that inspired my dribbling now:
“A part of me was worried too though — that if I were a pregnant mother — I’d surely lack the discipline to wade through the sensual dance waters and instead, surrender to my usual explosive dance making.
I started to think how dance might hurt my future child and if I’ll ever learn the calm so necessary to be pregnant and dancing… “
I love your first paragraph. Oh, the worries and wonders of it all. There is no answer to this, except for experience, which will be different for you than it was for me, or any other pregnant woman. For your second paragraph, though – if you are in good physical condition, explosive dancing will likely not hurt your future child. I think the only way dance could hurt a future child is after the child were born… if dance had priority over the child, or if dance was forced upon an unwilling child - both seem unlikely scenarios.
I do not want to force dance upon my sons, but I want them to experience the love that dance speaks to me. I would love to equip them with better and earlier experiences and training than I had – but only time will tell what I am able to do, and what they will desire anyway. My two-year-old seems to enjoy it so far, and with his nickname of Jazz, he’s unlikely to be able to escape at least knowing some dance or music.
I guess I have to conclude that dancing pregnant is magic, wonderful, painful, awful, and nothing all that special – all at the same time. It will continue to be a part of your life. Things change both entirely and not at all when you’re pregnant. Suddenly, people are blown away by you continuing your life with things like dancing, or even signing political petitions, or things you used to do every day without a second glance. You learn what your priorities really are, when you must make a daily decision to pursue your priorities… which sometimes may be hiding in bed doing nothing more than growing or caring for a new life.
-Signing off from the corner of the bed, next to my beautiful sleeping infant…