Dancing Like a Mom
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
By: Steph Frey Anderson, EDT Choreographer
I get this question a lot…How do you balance being a mom and having a dance career? And most of the time it’s implied that sacrifices have been made in my dance career. But what many people don’t realize is it all depends on the expectations you have for yourself and discovering what success really means to you as a dancer, teacher, and/or choreographer, and of course what aspirations you have in your family life.
I have been teaching dance in higher education for almost ten years. I danced professionally here in Pittsburgh for five years before having my first son.
Since having him (and also my second son) I have performed less, but taken on many more choreographic opportunities including the past two years with EDT!
I may not have danced with a big name in New York or L.A., but I have never stopped working in the profession. (The Pittsburgh dance community is awesome by the way.) That to me is success.
From the beginning of my graduate studies (I have my MFA in dance) to a husband and two kids later, I have never stopped teaching, performing, or choreographing. I have been so blessed to do what I love for a living, and I attribute that to God, my always supportive family, as well as my willingness and ability to try everything and never stop moving towards my goals.
Essentially, that’s how I make it work — I just keep moving and making steps in the direction (or directions) that I wish to go. Whether that means setting a goal to clean a part of the house, or checking out what choreographers are showing work, I try to continue to keep one foot in the present of my profession, while maintaining happy boys (including the hubby) at home.
With a strong community (great babysitters or daycare and an extremely supportive and giving husband) it is not only possible, but enjoyable to balance teaching, performing, and creating dance with little ones at home (or sometimes with me in the studio.)
Having time to create, to move my body, and interact with other artists in the amazing and supportive environment of dance has made me a better mom. I’m focused, creative, energetic, and more patient with my two high-energy balls of fun, Chase and Asher.
The dance educator in me wants to encourage everyone to never lose sight of your goals and use your passion to help find balance and the ability to have a great career and the family life you have always desired. Now the mom side of me says, Is there such a thing as a work/life balance?— It is chaos and exhausting and I question everything I do and whether it is enough for everyone and every part of my life. I have realized these feelings never go away, and -
I think that is what makes me a good mom, and as a result, a good teacher—constantly editing priorities and doing what is best for the kids, (or students) my marriage, and myself.
It’s not always easy to remember how a dance career and raising kids are beneficial to each other, (especially when you are running low on sleep and have to get up extra early to pack lunches and diaper bags, etc.) But when your son tells you how much fun he had with Daddy while you were gone, or you see the amazing choreographic works your students just created and performed, I remember why I love each part of my life and continue to do it every day.
My faith in God and my family will always come first, and I may need to cut back on my extracurricular artistic pursuits someday, but I think it’s important to continue to feed my passion of dance to challenge me to be a better artist, person, and mom.
Being a mom changes your life—but only for the better. I know I’m a better teacher, I have new inspiration and motivation for creating work, and the reward when I come home will never get old.