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skirtsafire

Growing a baby (and a Festival) in a pandemic

In June 2020, I found myself pregnant with my second child. I rolled my eyes at becoming a part of the now famous “Covid-baby club.” It’s a popular club for a reason and I was now a happy member. We had just recently and successfully hosted our 8th annual SkirtsAfire Festival in March, about a week before the lockdowns began. I remember enjoying the spring and the start of summer, feeling optimistic that in a month or two, things would return to normal and we would all get back to our festival city as planned. Then slowly but surely, things started getting postponed, then canceled, and our case numbers took a sharp turn for the worse. Through it all, as I grew this baby mostly isolated to my home, we planned for SkirtsAfire 2021: a return to indoor in-person performances in a safe way.

Having a baby in a pandemic is different. This baby will be welcomed into the world with masks and the strong scent of hand sanitizer and the rough touch of overly-washed chapped hands. No gatherings of friends and family to hold and kiss the fresh being that just entered the world. Instead, there will be more screen time than I’d like to admit my newborn will have, more time spent with me on my phone texting and emailing pictures and updates, more time spent alone, just our small family. I think of my friends who have had babies in 2020 who have no family in the city, most out of the country even, who have had no relatives allowed to visit and have no known date in the future they’ll get to meet the new addition. My sisters live in Hong Kong and I don’t know when they will get to meet their new nephew. Things I never thought I’d need to feel sad about before.

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In Edmonton, Events, Health, Style on
February 19, 2021

SkirtsAfire REIMAGINED #YEG + {Discount code}

SkirtsAfire in Edmonton is self-described as “diverse and daring”. Things are a little different this year, but it will still be 10 days of engaging and entertaining performances and experiences!

We have taken in their 2017 through 2020 MainStage Productions as well as Opening Night Parties, and of course, the fantastic SkirtsAfire Skirt Design Competition. This year they will be bringing the heart of SkirtsAfire into your home! Check out SkirtsAfire’s engaging online content as well as outdoor offerings, where you can expect a covid-safe trip around Old Strathcona experiencing art, design, and music.

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In Edmonton, Events, Explore, Random Thoughts on
February 22, 2019

Alberta Mamas SkirtsAFire Artist Spotlight – Writer Michelle Todd {+Giveaway}

As I prepare to perform Deep Fried Curried Perogies at SkirtsAfire Festival this March, I think of the person who made me a mother.

My first born. This beautiful, tall, lean, long physique, gorgeous smile, thoughtful, patient, gooby sense of humour, mini-man. And promptly burst into tears. It has been such a surprisingly long road, it’s not over, but man!

Suddenly he’s 16 and adulthood is around the corner. For him! I can barely believe that I’m no longer the “young adult”. I still can’t exhale. I’m still scared. When he was first born, to the oft asked “How is he? How is motherhood?” I would reply, “Still alive,” not because he had any history of disease, but because it was my new mantra and let’s be honest, many an African violet and bamboo plant have expired in my care. And now I had a human?!?!

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In Events, Lifestyle, Random Thoughts on
February 15, 2019

Alberta Mamas SkirtsAFire Festival Focus Artist – Renee McLachlan{+Giveaway}

I remember my Mom picking me up from school and on the way home she would sing her heart out to Whitney Houston, Bonnie Rait, or Etta James.

I remember listening to her practicing for gigs in the basement, her voice would fill the house. I remember watching her play shows and perform in musicals, she was and is captivating.

I was simultaneously drawn to singing and annoyed by it. I was in absolute awe of her but a part of me wanted to rebel which I imagine a lot of people can relate to. You look up to your parents but you want to find your own path in the world.

My Mom gave me a guitar when I was a teenager. She started playing when she was 12 years old – it was everything to her and she wanted the same for me. I opened the gift and was disappointed. That was not what I wanted so I ended up selling it to my little cousin. Most likely I spent the money on clothes at the mall. Ugh. I cringe at this memory.

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In Edmonton on
February 28, 2018

Who knew balance would be so hard for a dancer?

By Stephanie Lilley

I have 16 minutes to write this entire blog post. That is the time before my workout starts, I then have to pick up my 1.5 year old from daycare, pick up my 3.5 year old from playschool, take both tiny terrorists grocery shopping (my MBA has left me ill-equipped to negotiate with them), get them home and napped (by “napped” I mean the older will watch Paw Patrol and the younger will alternate between crying to be breastfed and biting my nipples), take everyone out for some sunshine, clean the whole house, make dinner, get ready for date night (reapply deodorant and change into a different pair of stretchy pants), and go to a local dance company’s show for date night.  

I am a professional contemporary dancer/choreographer and I run Viva Dance Company. I have been married to my wonderful husband for almost a decade and I am mother to the 2 most amazing kids. I have the best life of anybody I know, but I am busier than my kids during the sermon at church! I am burning the candle at both ends and also roasting the middle on a surprisingly hot Easybake oven. Like many women I know, I wear many hats. Mother, wife and artist are my most important, and also my most demanding roles.  

In just a few weeks, myself and the other Viva dancers will be dancing in the Skirtsafire Festival. We train together 2-3 times a week and have performed over 200 times since I started the company in 2012. I wish I could say that our success has translated into money but performing arts companies simply do not turn profits with ticket sales alone, and with the other hats I wear I don’t have time to apply for grants and sponsorships. Furthermore, people often expect that because I love dancing that I should donate my services. In short, it is hard to make a living wage as an artist. It is doubly hard to do so while putting out family fires (literally).  

The payoff? When I am dancing, I get to move my body in infinite ways, the body that houses the soul that loves my husband profoundly, the body that brought two children into this life. My body should be celebrated in all of its postpartum glory and what better way than through movement? In those moments when I can drop my guard and bear my soul, I lose myself and find myself.  

In the blink of an eye, my 16 minutes is almost up and I must go workout so that I can keep up with the 20 year old dancers in my dance company. 

Tough as a mother & yours in dance, 

Stephanie Lilley

Stephanie Lilley is a contemporary dancer/choreographer and runs Viva Dance Company

Facebook: @Vivadancecompany , Twitter: @ViVAdanceCo , Instagram: viva_dance_company

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This post was sponsored by the SkirtsAfire Festival Society.