You Look Happy Today

This past summer into fall, I worked every single day from August 3-October 3. I had a total of 40 rehearsals and 14 performances plus grants, photo shoots, out-of-town board meetings, production meetings, guest lectures, and award ceremonies. I worked straight through. No days off. All of Buddy’s after school activities – swimming, piano lessons, and tae kwon do – were canceled during that time frame because my work schedule was so intense that I could not manage with his regular activities. In general rehearsals were twice a day, 9am-noon, then 6pm-10pm. Saturdays were 3 hours of technique classes, then afternoon rehearsals until 6pm, Sundays 10am-6pm. I was never home. I did not see my family. The house was (is) a mess. There were many many nights that my boys ate cereal or worse, fast food for dinner because I was not home to cook. And, as I may have mentioned before, my husband may prepare a meal once every six months or so. I am lucky laundry was done.

August 3-October 3 was a long time. I was so sleep deprived; the dark circles under my eyes were so large and so dark my husband said it looked like I had black eyes. I was grumpy every morning. Sleep deprived.

It’s cyclical. The never ending workload, the crazy rehearsal schedules, all my time, energies, and talents essentially donated to small non-profit arts orgs. This cycle takes a consistent toll on me and my family.

After the last show I produced for my company closed, Buddy mentioned to me a few times in about a two-week period, “Oh you look happy today” or “You are smiling” or “You don’t have a mean face.”

I knew I was stressed, but I had no idea that my son was seeing me with angry stressed out faces for months on end. And that it had such an impact on him that he noticed the difference when I actually had a pleasant expression and smiled.

My poor baby.

In my experience(s), there is a lack of support systems for women choreographers, women of color and Latinas in the arts, and artist mothers. I am all three. I am torn because there are so few Latinas in dance and choreography working in the themes and aesthetics with which I work. I want to keep working, fight the good fight, and have a positive impact on the field. Yet, I wonder if it is worth it.

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