‘I Wish I Got Pregnant in March!’ Inside the Dance Baby Boom.
Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from The New York Times
Gia Kourlas | 22 April 2021
At the beginning of the pandemic, one of Megan Fairchild’s former dance teachers gave her some advice: Now would be a really great time to get pregnant. Fairchild, a principal at New York City Ballet, was aghast.
“I was like, that’s a ridiculous idea and the last thing on my mind right now,” she said. “This is going to last a couple months, and I don’t want to not be there when we get back.”
But as days turned into weeks and months, she began to experience another emotion: anger. It was clear that her kind of live performance, dancing for thousands at Lincoln Center, would not be resuming anytime soon. Fairchild, a planner, always wanted to give her young daughter a sibling so that she could experience a relationship like she has with her dancer-brother, Robbie Fairchild.
She did the math. The pandemic pause plus another pregnancy, if they didn’t overlap, would add up to two-and-a-half years off the stage. “It started to make me super mad about the fact that I have to take a full year off from my career — my short career already — as the woman in the parenting situation to bring a child into the world.”
For much of the pandemic year, Fairchild, 36, was pregnant — with twins. (On April 10, she gave birth to two girls.) The decision to have another child came to her in three words when she was meditating: Do it now. “I didn’t think I was ready,” she said, “but the idea of just doing it now kind of solved all my problems.”
Now Fairchild is irritated that she wasted so much time. “I wish I got pregnant in March!” she said.
She’s not the only one to have taken advantage of the theatrical shutdown. The dance world is experiencing a full-blown baby boom. “This has just been something to lift us up and give us new energy,” said Brittany Pollack, 32, a City Ballet soloist, who is expecting a girl in September with her husband, Jonathan Stafford, the company’s artistic director.
A dance career is relatively short, and so is the window for a dancer to have a child. It usually happens later in a career when stage credits or time with a company is already established. So while the baby boom is a joyful outcome to a terrible situation, it also brings to light the real struggle that many dancers, particularly women, face in deciding whether and when to start a family.
“It’s like, the world’s ending,” Heather Lang, a cast member of “Jagged Little Pill,” said. “Here you go, here’s your chance.”
The pandemic has afforded dancers, including Lang, who had her second child during the shutdown, something rare: time — to be away from performing and then to get back into dancing shape. “I don’t have to sacrifice another year of contemplating, should I stop now?” said Erica Pereira, a soloist at City Ballet who is currently pregnant. “Should I have the baby? It’s like a blessing in disguise.”
The roster of new and expecting mothers bears this out: In recent weeks, Ingrid Silva of Dance Theater of Harlem; Teresa Reichlen of City Ballet; and Stephanie Williams and Zhong-Jing Fang of American Ballet Theater have had babies. Ballet Theater’s Lauren Post, who has a young daughter, is pregnant with a boy.
In addition to Lang, several Broadway dancers have had children in recent months: Ashley Blair Fitzgerald (“The Cher Show”), Khori Petinaud (“Moulin Rouge! The Musical”) and Lauren Yalango-Grant, who, at 34 weeks pregnant, was part of the cast of the coming film “Tick, Tick … Boom!” Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the movie features choreography by the forward-thinking Ryan Heffington.