In our "Live your dream" series, I've featured several dancers from all over the world. We've talked about their struggles, hardships, free work and sacrifices they need to make to have families.
Today, I'd like to give you a peek into a Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre - a company that supports pregnancy.
Two dancers , Kaori Ogasawara and Erin Halloran, share their experience with us today.
PBT leaves the decision on when a dancer should stop working and when she can return to the stage to the performer and the attending physician. PBT company members can take up to four months off without losing seniority.
Ogasawara is going into her fifth month. "When I dance, I'm happy. My doctor says, if Mom is happy, your baby must be happy, too."
Kaori Ogasawara & Christopher Rendall-Jackson perform in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's "La Sylphide"
Fifteen extra pounds has made a big difference for Ogasawara.
"I don't have the stamina. Usually I practice until I feel confident. Now, I can't practice more than two hours a day. I have to listen to my body."
The added weight also throws off her sense of balance, forcing her to recalibrate every movement.
"It's totally different. When I turn, it's a totally different weight shift. But everybody wants to dance until they can't. This is what we love. At the same time, this is my dream: I wanted to have a baby and come back to be a dancer again."
Halloran plans to return six to eight weeks after the baby is born, depending on how things go. "I'm sure I'll want to get back on stage as soon as I can, but I won't want to get back on stage before I'm in good shape."
For all working mothers, taking a leave from the workplace -- whether it's the office or the stage -- is a big change. For women in the performing arts, who invest years in preparing and training for careers that require extreme focus and dedication,
"it's a really hard decision," Halloran says. "You have mixed emotions about stopping what you love to do -- especially for a dancer, because you're body is a tool, and it's not the same for a while. Taking time off in a career that's relatively short -- it's a hard choice."
At the same time, she says, getting the chance to play a new role in real life -- that of a mom -- can enhance one's art. "Having another aspect of your life gives you life experience to draw from in your performance, and of course the pleasure of being a parent."
Erin Halloran performing pregnant
Attitudes toward parent performers have changed over time, so it's no longer a cut and dried choice between having a family and a performing career, Halloran says.
"I think it's becoming easier in the arts, and especially for ballet dancers, to have children. It wasn't so easy in the past. It's becoming more accepted. We're lucky at PBT. They're really supportive of the people with families."
I absolutely loved the very last line. Isn't it wonderful? I hope that more and more companies take on this attitude.
HAVE YOU WORKED THROUGH YOU PREGNANCY? WITH LITTLE BABY? HOW WAS IT?