In August 2015, I had the incredible experience of giving birth to a child. That transformation, and the resulting human have drastically changed my life and my work as an artist. Being an artist and a mother is a challenge. Our babysitters demand higher pay than we do. But my work continues to call and invigorate me. Must I struggle to work in spite of being a "full-time mother"? Do I put artistry on hold? I am a mother and choreographer. Both. I seek to make that a supportive and beneficial relationship rather than letting these roles compete for my attention. Here are some ways I'm trying.
When my son was a year and half, I came across the work of Lenka Clayton, who founded the original Artist Residency in Motherhood. Inspired by her work, I started an international collective of performing artists- old classmates and collaborators whom I know to have also become mothers. For one year, we are giving each other an assignment every week to be posted under the hashtag #mamaisamaker. We will probe into questions of caretaking, partnership, gender roles, womanhood, but may also branch out as the mood or the news strike: spaghetti and border control are also fair game. Please follow the work of these wonderful artists on instagram. Here is a little about who they are.
Linked below are the assignments we've had thus far. Feel free to give them a try on your own.
Outside of the collective, I continue working in theater spaces and I often travel with my little companion. I danced my way through late pregnancy. Family and volunteers sat with my 4 month old backstage every night during my first show back on the boards. He's ridden on my back and roamed the floor in rehearsals, slept on a bouncy chair between the seats, and nursed while gazing at his mother in sequined gold unitard, wig cap and rainbow eyelashes. And I am grateful every moment for the individuals and communities that have welcomed my choice to continue working, to bring my child along. It would not be possible without their embrace. If there were not such allies, I would not be working.
About 9 months into motherhood, I started making instagram videos. It was a way to keep exploring artistically while spending lots and lots of time at home, totally at the service of my child's evolving needs. I explored the mundanities of this new life, the rhythm of a day of naptimes, and the necessity of empathy. This experiment was crucial in formatting the #mamaisamaker project.
Lenka Clayton's Artist-Residency-in-Motherhood:
"I wondered how I might instead apply the framework of an artist residency to the wild new world that was unfolding at home, one that I usually felt entirely too tired to notice."
on how women's brains are rewired during pregnancy to "register and consider how other people perceive things," in other words, we're rewired to specialize in empathy, which is precisely the work of artists and theater practitioners since the beginning of time!
Howlround's Where are the Disappeared Women of the Theatre?:
"Perhaps mothers understand better than anyone the possibility of tiny creations evolving quickly into unstoppable forces, and that's what makes believing in their cause a thrill to investigate and support.”