Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day.

We only get one day? Internationally? I have a childhood memory of a discussion of why there are specific months or days for specific populations or people - Black History Month. LGBT Pride Month. Hispanic Heritage Month. Polish American Heritage Month. Caregivers Month. V-Day. International Women's Day. Veterans' Day. 

I understand the positive intention of bringing awareness to "minority" populations, but at the same time, by doing so, don't we recognize, encourage, and proliferate those populations remaining in the minority? Why don't "we" (the collective majority?) see these people as special every day? And yes, I recognize this could be true for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, and Valentine's Day,  (or where ever you want to place the apostrophe), Earth Day, International Dance Day, the list goes on... 

Maybe it is important to have these days to pause and reflect on the importance of diversity, service, family, and love. Perhaps, at this point in time, it's most important to bring these values back to the forefront of our awareness and action. 

How did you celebrate International Women's Day?

I'm celebrating by sharing a new truth, a recent journey, and a new path on my adventure. 

I'm in the process of Becoming Mom. 

Becoming Mom is scary to finally admit publicly because I've privately struggled with accepting the changes to my life and my body. 

During this process of Becoming Mom, I've become painfully more aware of how the government is trying to control my access to health care and the way health care providers are responding. 

I've found new friendships and deepened existing relationships with women who have passed into and through this portal of motherhood. 

And I've faced the challenge of a largely patriarchal society that (for many years) has tainted my view of femininity and beauty; questioning not only the aesthetic (and perceived) value of a woman, but the aesthetic value of the mother. 

Many of the challenges I faced in the first few months have specifically brought this question to light. My body is changing and growing and my appearance is changing and growing. Would my dance career be over? Would I need to stop performing? Would I be accepted? Could I still do everything that I've been doing - both in terms of physicality and schedule? 

I'm lucky because the Philadelphia Dance scene is rich with women who are negotiating motherhood and a professional dance career. Here, there is a wealth of knowledge, support, and movement to keep moving. 

I've been told that my pregnant body is aesthetically unappealing for the professional stage and particular work (by men), but I am finding more support in the female community by women who have gained a deeper awareness of self and others and their own artistry through this process.  

Many years ago, a good friend and somatic practitioner told me her "ah-ha" moment in coming to terms with Becoming Mom. She was hesitant to embark on this journey for some of the reasons I mentioned previously; "But," she reflected, "if my work is to embody the human experience and share that experience through art making and movement education, aren't I denying myself a very important part of that experience by resisting Becoming Mom?" She know has two children and continues to be a leader in the community. 

I'll write more on how Becoming Mom is influencing my dance performance, choreography, educational and advocacy practices, but for now, I want to express my gratitude for all of the women who have paved the way for me to talk about and experience this openly. 

As I do, I process through my body and through my dance. Here's a moment from a new work, that is researching the process of Becoming Mom and reflects on sections of Michael Lancaster's poem, Heading Old. 

"...poems tracking generations
long past, generations
deeply forward, life after life
arriving, being, passing to 
life matter: mud, water, new life, 
grasses, birds, fish uncountable, 
crustaceans, shellfish, 
food and life, immortality. 
In consciousness, I am
circular life, yet limning its cadences
in cadences as urgent as life even as
my cadence slows from its 
primal assertion to be my father
miming his pace as I sought his side and 
then strode strongly past succeeding
his dreams immortal in me. 
In time my children and their stream
my immortality in their urgency...."

Photo by Greg Irvin

Photo by Greg Irvin

How are you celebrating International Women's Day? 

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