Tango and pregnancy – limited moves, but unlimited emotion
Pregnancy and dance – most people do not normally associate these things at the same time. However, tango is actually one of the few dances that can be safely practiced and enjoyed while pregnant. Its movements allow enough flexibility and with a little bit of ingenuity dancing during a pregnancy can be as rewarding as dancing before and after a pregnancy. So, what is it like to dance not just with your husband, but also with your unborn child? The wonderful and gracious Petya Dimitrova told us about her experience and, hopefully, it will inspire more and more ladies to start dancing and continue dancing tango while pregnant.
Congratulations to Petya and her husband Stanimir on the birth of their beautiful baby boy! Thank you for making tango an intrinsic part of your life and for being such an inspiration to me! Last, but not least, thank you, Petya, for managing to answer my questions in between breastfeeding, changing diapers and simply trying to get some sleep.
Did your tango experience change during the pregnancy? If so, how did it change?
I can’t really speak about my experience as for me there isn’t, or rather – there shouldn’t be, such a thing as my experience. As a couple we had to adapt to the physical and emotional changes associated with pregnancy. We had to be more careful with certain moves or to abandon them altogether. And I am talking even about simple things like ochos which were getting harder and harder towards the end of the pregnancy. But, more importantly, we had to learn to take it easy, forget about trying to do your best or trying to look good and instead just try to be together and enjoy the moment while it lasts. You know you are not in your best physical shape and that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, so why even bother trying? It’s all about you and your partner and having fun or having an intimate moment, that’s what changed.
Did your musical tastes in tango change while you were pregnant or after giving birth?
Altogether – no, they didn’t. Only now that you can’t really dance to any music you tend to prefer the more lyrical songs. Though, if I have to be honest, there were three songs that I started listening to more often because of videos I watched on youtube. One was ‘El dia que me quieras’ played by Miguel Angel Bertero and Eliza Munos. I loved that version in particular because of the Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes video where she is heavily pregnant. I must have watched that video a thousand times. Another one was ‘Poema’ and, again, there is a video story behind it with a couple and their baby dancing all three together. I think those videos illustrate best what tango was like during pregnancy and now – limited moves, but unlimited emotion.
Did you use tango to alleviate the pain during birth?
Yes, as a matter of fact. We danced in the hospital ward between contractions. For example, we danced to ‘Poema’ by Francisco Canaro. The movement of the pelvis helps labour progress faster and less painfully. Focusing on the rhythm also helps you control your breathing better. Generally, my OB was really happy that I had not stopped dancing for most of my pregnancy and she believed that it helped me have a healthy pregnancy and that it was the reason the baby engaged perfectly early on, allowing for an easy natural birth. Though, as labour progresses, music starts to matter less and less.
How far into the pregnancy did you still feel comfortable dancing?
Till the middle of the eighth month. Then it became quite hard, but we were still trying at home.
How do you think the leaders felt about dancing with you while pregnant and how do you think they feel about dancing with pregnant ladies in general?
The answer to both questions is not really comfortable. First, there’s obviously the growing belly which changes the embrace and I guess the way you feel your partner. Secondly, the lady feels ‘heavier’ than usual, perhaps a little slow to respond, but it’s only natural since we have to think of safety first and foremost. And, of course, there’s the safety. The leaders can’t help thinking ‘what if I do something wrong’.
Did the baby react to tango music while he was still in your belly and did he like any particular songs?
Yes, he reacted to songs with stronger beats such as some Pugliese compositions. He would kick almost in rhythm with the beat. What he did react to was the dancing itself. He loved it when I danced and would stay quiet and happy but would start kicking when I stopped.
Do you still use tango songs to calm him if he doesn’t want to sleep?
I am sorry to disappoint, but the classics work best – a full belly, a warm embrace and baby lullabies work best. Tango music excites him.
Do you feel like dancing now and would you take the baby to a milonga?
Oh, yes. I am looking forward to my next OB appointment hoping I’ll get cleared to start physical exercises and dancing again. But I would not take a baby to a milonga. Not until I can be absolutely certain that he would not bother others in any way. But I would love to get him used to seeing mommy and daddy dancing and I hope that this tango experience, even if he never tries dancing himself, will teach him a few things about love – that it means an embrace, mutual respect, to be truly together until you can no longer tell who is the leader and who is the follower, you are simply one. If I can get him interested in dancing and going to milongas later on, it would be great as he would also learn something which is an awfully hard lesson for boys – that it is ok to touch and embrace a girl or a lady, even a complete stranger without feeling ashamed. Everyone remembers the agony of adolescence and how awfully uncomfortable they felt about their body and close contact. Any social dancing can change that, but why not tango?