Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ballet with a Bump

English National Ballet Junior Soloist Kei Akahoshi gave birth to a baby boy, Luca, earlier this month. I spoke to her back in April about being a ballerina with a bump…

LD: What is it like dancing and being pregnant?
KA: At the very beginning, I was dancing and didn’t know I was pregnant. I was doing Swan Lake – which is four acts and very hard work for female dancers – and then I was in the Olympic Closing Ceremony. I had no idea I was carrying a little person with me!
I found out I was pregnant during our Summer holidays. I wanted to carry on performing and especially go on tour with the company but I had really bad morning sickness. It’s called morning sickness but it happens all day. I couldn’t dance onstage as I didn’t know when I’d be feeling ill, but I carried on taking class and rehearsing and have gradually cut back. I’m now just doing Pilates and a bit of barre work.
LD: How have you found being pregnant has affected your body image?
KA: It’s so strange getting bigger. It’s not something I’m used to as I’ve been a professional dancer for ten years. My costumes didn’t fit anymore!
I think dancers are more aware of their bodies than most people. I’ve struggled at times with the change to my shape – it feels very strange. Before if I put on weight, I would feel it, without weighing myself, and then lose it quite easily by doing a bit of extra work. Now my weight is changing and I can’t do anything about it. Non-dancing ladies tell me my bump is small but in the company, everyone thinks I’m huge.
Being pregnant is a normal human thing and it’s lovely to do. I’m feeling happy with my bump and the life growing inside me.
LD: Your husband is English National Ballet Soloist Daniel Jones. With such strong ballet genetics, do you think the baby might have a career as a dancer ahead?
KA: Of course he will dance! But I want him to try everything – like music and martial arts. Daniel is also into digital art and technology so I’m sure that will be important for our child too.
LD: How will you manage being a mum as well as having a high-pressure career as a dancer?
KA: It will be tough to get back into performing after the time off. After any break, it’s hard to get back and being pregnant means taking longer off than for most injuries.
But I love dancing and I love using my body, so I can’t wait to get back. I’m looking forward to being able to run, jump and dance again!

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