Good morning, darlings!
This post is so long overdue! Sofia and I did the Mother and Baby dance class from October to December last year. We started it just a couple of weeks later after a baby yoga class. *Read more about it here.* Needless to say, it was a blast!
Surprisingly, I had never heard about this kind of class before. And I am eternally grateful to a friend of mine who simply sent me a message to see if I would be interested to check it out. It didn’t take much convincing. I watched a video online and I was sold. This is the exact reason why I wanted to dedicate a post to this baby class. I wanted other moms to be aware of it. Not only it’s a great way for new moms and their babies to bond, but also have fun, relax, while socializing with others.
My instructor, Eryn Dace Trudell, was absolutely amazing. And even though I can’t call myself a great dancer, I felt right where I belong!
Sofia was only 10 weeks old when we started the class. She was really responsive to everything that was happening around her, especially at the beginning of the class when we snapped fingers and clapped to create our own ‘music’. In addition, she enjoyed being in my arms as we danced around and moved past other babies in a class. In the second part of the class, we put our babies in carriers. Sofia was asleep within the first few minutes, while I focused on learning new dancing styles and techniques.
I asked Eryn if she would do an interview with me because I wanted you, my dear readers, to get the most information out of it. And she kindly agreed.
Here it is, without a further ado.
First things first.
Go-to music: For classes I use: Snatam Kaur, Oka, John Hughes, Ali Farka
Favourite dance style: Contact Improvisation, Skinner Release Technique (of which I am a certified facilitator)
Dancing tip: Breathe and let go
Eryn, could you tell us more about yourself and your fitness background?
I have a BFA from The Juilliard School, and so my original training is in classical ballet and modern dance. Since studying these classical forms, I began exploring new dance and post-modern dance techniques. I love the somatic approaches such as Alexander Technique, Body Mind Centering , Feldenkrais and all their developments. I am a certified facilitator of Skinner Releasing Technique and a practitioner of Contact Improvisation.
How did you come up with the idea of a Mother and Baby dance class?
I had the privilege of witnessing a professional dancer trying to present at a choreographic workshop while her child tried to upstage her. It was the most beautifully authentic dance I ever saw. She eventually brought the child on stage with her to continue the presentation.
As necessity is the mother of invention, when I became a single mother in 2006, MamaDances was the solution to finding a way to support my little family by applying my skills and experience. Sensitive to competition I wanted to create work for myself that would offer a complementary revenue source and demographic to the profession of dance.
Could you walk my readers through your everyday class? What can people who attend it expect?
We begin with rhythm and socialization studies to loosen up the intimidation factor and get to know each other. Next we do a floor warm-up including lower back release and abdominal strengthening. On the first day we move with our babies in our arms within a study called “ Soft feet”. Technically, we are learning to let go of holding patterns in the knees and the feet to allow fluidity to come into the body through the contact and dialogue from the floor through the skeletal structure to the head. The principal being taught is the idea of letting go into the direction of movement. This creates availability and a state of readiness to respond with suppleness. This exercise seems very simple but there is a lot going on.
What impact does music and dance have on a child’s development?
I am not specialized in this area of knowledge. I have no academic background in child development. In fact I am only beginning to embark on this area of research now. I only know from experience that the babies enjoy it. My own children who have been exposed to a musical and movement environment are very tuned in musically. My oldest daughter now plays several instruments and my younger daughter has an amazing ability to replicate a tone and sing musical phrases.
Sofia and I really enjoyed dancing with you! Can you tell us more about the philosophy behind dance classes for babies and moms? What sets you apart from other baby classes out there?
When I began MamaDances in 2007, there were very few activities for mothers and babies. I had heard about Salsa Babies, but there was only one class being offered in Montreal that I could see. Mom and Baby Yoga was just beginning. Cardio-Pousette [cardio with a stroller] was happening at Parc Lafontaine. Since, then many activities have been introduced to the market, particularly things like Music classes.
MamaDances merges many of the concepts you will find in other classes, such as music and rhythm awareness, and stimulation for the babies. Plus , stretching and strengthening like in yoga and pilates. And then the fitness comes in, when we realize we have been moving non-stop for 60-80 minutes without even noticing. The material is integrated in a way that the movement of the moms and the babies becomes a synergy of expression and connection.
Can moms with no previous dance experience still have fun in your class?
Yes. All the material is prepared to be equally beneficial for those with or without experience. That is one of the biggest challenges of creating material for a class. There is a huge range of ability and experience in a class.
Do you teach any other classes apart from Mother-Baby class?
I teach Contact Improvisation and Skinner Releasing Technique. I also have a Parent and Child Program which is a development of the Mom and Baby program.
What are your goals for this coming year?
I have a lot of inquiries about this method from people in other parts of the world. I am hoping to create an online teachers training program and to begin sharing and expanding MamaDances globally.
Finally, any fun stories you’d be able to share with us? I am sure you had quite a few laughs with your members during the class.
The obvious is that we are putting one of the most aesthetic practices, dance, together with the most fundamental, maternity. The dance of eternity. I love it when a mother finds something that her baby really loves and the babies start laughing and so Mama starts laughing and then it’s all quite funny. We can’t take ourselves too seriously, yet here we are now responsible for another human being in the world. It’s a wonderful dichotomy.
Thank you very much for your time and an incredible, one of a kind, dancing experience with my daughter!
If you are a new mom in Montreal area, definitely check out MamaDances website to register or to get additional information: www.mamadances.com. If not, see if you have similar classes where you live. You’ll have the time of your life with your little plus one!
*You can read more about my postpartum fitness journey here.*
Have you tried a dance class with your baby? What was your experience?