Jun 23 2014
One of the challenges of being female and Orthodox is straddling the line between halachic modesty, artistic expression, and personal empowerment. Take it from Mina Black, a professional dancer and Orthodox mother of four.
“Being an artist in our community, a dancing artist, is a very odd thing. You’re not allowed to express your body. It’s not modest. A woman is supposed to be covered, humble,” says Black.
One of 14 siblings, Mina was raised in a haredi Jerusalem neighborhood where professional dance was strictly forbidden, and she spent a lifetime struggling to find a niche for her talent. Today she lives with her family in Long Island, where she owns a ballet studio for Orthodox girls, blending prayer and spirituality with the art of dance. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 16 2014
My 4-year-old daughter participated in her first dance recital yesterday. It came after a full year of classes with her 3 to 5-year-old peers. I admit to feeling a little nervous for her: being on a stage, the lights, the full audience. She got nervous when I told her I was leaving to go sit with my husband, mother, and mother-in-law. So, I applied more lipstick (yes, I put some make-up on my 4-year-old), fixed her costume, and tried to leave the room.
Something occurred to me then: I am being a “stage mom.” This is so not me!
She was tearful and wavering and while I was telling her how much fun she was going to have, I was really thinking: You will get on that stage and dance and you will like it! I was thinking of all of the money we put into the class, shoes, and costumes. And I was thinking I did not want her to regret sitting it out. I became consumed with the need for my daughter to complete her dances on stage and feel good about it. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 6 2013
When my daughter was 2 years old, she requested ballet lessons. I promptly put her off. The world of ballet, in all of its pink, graceful, waif-like glory, is decidedly not my thing. I didn’t want it to be hers either.
The mere mention of the B-word triggers painful memories of a brief period in my childhood when I shoved my awkward pre-pubescent body into pink tights and a matching leotard and stumbled and suffered through a class in which I was at least a head taller and 15 pounds heavier than every other girl in the room. I was not slender or graceful, and my blunt bob was not nearly long enough to put into a bun. It would be the first in a long string of experiences in which I felt like the outsider, and I didn’t want to experience that again, even vicariously through my child.
After six months–a lifetime for a 2-year-old– of requests, I decided to give it a go. Surely it was a phase, I told myself, surely we’d be in bejeweled soccer cleats within a few months. Read the rest of this entry →
May 23 2012
“Have a great time being Dance Mom!” my 12-year-old son chirped mischievously as I set off with my 8-year-old on his first day of rehearsal for Giselle with the American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.
My younger son has been taking dance classes for almost a year now, so when another mom told me about the casting call for background Village Boys in Giselle, we thought we’d give it a shot.
My feeling was it would be a one-of-a-kind, priceless experience. How often, after all, does the average child–or adult, for that matter–get to be on stage at the Met, standing within a few feet of some of the world’s greatest dancers and getting a view even a front-row ticket couldn’t buy? Add to that the chance to work in a professional environment, surrounded by gifted, extremely dedicated and hard-working people, and have the same level of professionalism and hard work expected from you in return, and I figured, yes, that’s worth a week of my life. (And if he failed, well, you know how I feel about failure.) Read the rest of this entry →