March 8, 2017
Creating While Caregiving: Great Idea in Theory, Not So Easy in Practice
We never really know how successfully we’ll be able to create while caregiving on any given day. There are so many dynamics that constitute the context of any rehearsal; we do the best we can to work within that context. Today is one of those days where caregiving needs restrict the ability to create. It is also one of those days when the restrictions feel particularly frustrating.
The presence of young children in the studio can mean that the dancers’ attention is fragmented. It can be quite stressful to fulfill the needs of the kids -- fluid and largely unpredictable -- and still manage to focus enough attention and energy to choreograph, collaborate and rehearse. Ah, conflicting needs. Never easy to navigate.
Although coming in to this rehearsal with the intention to repeat last week’s structured warm-up, Jonathan soon discovers that Eliza’s need for his attention greatly limits his ability to lead this segment as he had planned. Mandy and Lorena create their own warm-up, acknowledging that Jonathan’s participation will have to be sporadic at best.
Jonathan abandons his first attempt to work on his piece, instead dedicating himself to entertaining Eliza and Sebastian so Lorena and Mandy can work on the solo portion of Lorena’s work. The women clean up the choreography, flesh out textural details, and enable Mandy to dive deeper into the material.
Jonathan tries once again to work on his dance, but Eliza’s need for his attention makes it impossible for him to proactively think about his work. Consequently, he finds himself in a more reactive mode. Despite his frustration, he decides to concentrate on cleaning up details and giving Mandy the opportunity to practice the new material developed last week.
Since Sebastian needs his mother’s attention to a significant degree, Lorena’s participation in this segment of the rehearsal is greatly limited.
So…although Lorena and Jonathan struggle with the creating/caregiving balance, Mandy is able to practice in a way that she finds very helpful and gratifying.
In discussions later in the week, Sherri and Jonathan process the dynamics of the rehearsal. Sherri’s absence from rehearsal due to a medical procedure left the team “one adult short.” This certainly compounded the difficulty Jonathan, Lorena and Mandy experienced.
However, the experience also constituted a “breakthrough” of sorts for Jonathan. He was understandably angry and frustrated at the circumstances he had to deal with in rehearsal. But he did NOT descend into self-blame; he was not consumed by the typical preconceived idea that somehow he should have been able to pre-empt the challenging dynamics with the children.
Jonathan also confirmed Sherri’s observation that the situation was a real set-up. Jonathan brought his child to work with him -- an environment that is not particularly optimal for Eliza to play independently and contentedly. Daddy is seemingly right there, within reach – yet not always available. Of course she is not going to be thrilled with this arrangement. And of course Jonathan is going to feel guilty. It’s tough – but it’s ok. No one did anything “wrong.” This is the context within which the team operates. Yeah, it’s hard. But it’s still worth it to be able to remain connected to their artistic core, continue to develop their creative selves – and expose their children to this vibrant environment.
Sherri Muroff Kalt, founder of Process Portraits, LLC and author of Portrait of an Artistic Journey: The Creative Process in Real Life Context, is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in psychology. She began her career in marketing and sales in New York City with L’Oréal, Monet Jewelers, and Givenchy. READ MORE