Ballerina Mama!

It’s hard to miss Ballet Palm Beach dancer, Lily Ojea Loveland, entering the studio in the mornings.  She’s the one that’s armed with enough stuff to topple a small pack mule. She hoists the usual ballet dancer necessities like water bottles, warm ups, tape, sewing supplies, pointe shoes, etc. in addition to a diaper bag, baby bottles, blankets, and a car seat (sometimes with an endearing occupant).

Lily returned full force to Ballet Palm Beach this season after a slight hiatus last year while expecting her second child, Magnolia. She will be featured in upcoming mixed bill “Snow White & Other Works” in Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and as the Evil Queen in “Snow White.”

How she manages a full load of intensive rehearsals plus caring for an infant and a 3-year old is nothing short of super-human! I caught up with aforementioned super woman for an interview about what it is like juggling two of the most (in my humble opinion) challenging jobs!

Lily, how long have you been a ballet dancer?

LILY: I have been dancing professionally for 12 years. The last seven have been with Ballet Palm Beach, where I trained as a child!

Share your insights on being a dancer and a mother

LILY: Being a mom and a dancer is becoming more normal, but the world does sometimes expect dancers to be extremely youthful and totally unencumbered by regular life. Motherhood may not seem glamorous to some, but frankly ballet isn’t either. It is sweat and patience and love and pain-just like motherhood.

How long did you dance while pregnant?

LILY: I was dancing when I went into labor with my first and with my second I stopped about two weeks before I had her. Dancing as long I could was key, I think. And you just have to have a sense of humor and a one-day-at-a-time attitude. The body is an amazing thing.

How does it feel to be back in the studio?

LILY: Being back in the studio after childbirth is so exciting for me! Pregnancy takes a serious toll on your body, and yes, it is extremely difficult to return to your former self but going through that process is an honor.  Your core is gone, so you have to start from square one redeveloping your technique. Each week your body starts remembering new things.

With my first child, I came back 9 days later into full swing rehearsals and pushed myself to do as much as I could. My back was just a mess. I had some nutrient deficiencies that came from all the new jobs my body had taken on. It took a while to figure out.

For my second recovery it was summer time, and I returned to class a week after having Magnolia. We are back in season now and progress is going well. I knew what was coming, so I feel I am recovering with less difficulty.

Also I have to say, my partners have made recovery possible because of their wonderful cooperation and support. Dancing with a partner jogs my body’s memory, and Rogelio Corrales was always willing to lift me at my heaviest and support me at my lowest level of technique, which I am unbelievably grateful for.  I have not had the good fortune to dance with him after Magnolia, my second child, but my current partnerships are quite helpful as well. I am really thankful for that!

Has being a mom changed how you dance or how you approach a role?

 LILY: Being a mom has made me more confident. It has made me more loving. More sympathetic. Harder working. More creative. It has given me a greater sense of reality. Watching these children grow is magical. My adoration of them reminds me how God feels about me–about all of us. There is nothing more inspiring to me than their little faces. Every ballet story, every careful execution of a step is made more relatable because of that human connection I have with my children.

I am so grateful for my body now too. It’s funny coming back from pregnancy because as a dancer I have always had a close understanding of my body but now we are on even closer terms! God truly thought of it all when he put us together. Mind blowing.

Do you have any funny stories to share?

LILY: When I was pregnant with Wesley, my first child, he danced in my belly when Prokofiev was being played. Really. He also liked the march from the Party Scene in The Nutcracker. He is quite interested in music now.

Thank you, Lily! Lily smiles and waltzes away with a baby in one arm and pointe shoes in another. You can see Lily in “Snow White & Other Works” Oct 22-23 at the Eissey Campus Theatre. BUY TICKETS HERE!

Also, you can be a supporter of Ballet Palm Beach here!

-Rebekah Levin

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