By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) - Far from being heavy, lumbering and clumsy, pregnant women are often fascinating, beautiful and serene, according to the artistic director of one British ballet company.
And to prove it, Balletlorent is recruiting 12 pregnant women to star in a dance production alongside six professional ballet dancers.
"MaEternal" will be performed in the northern English city of Newcastle in May and is offering the 12 who get through the auditions "a chance to share with an audience the beauty of what it means to carry the life of another within you."
Artistic Director Liv Lorent, who, coincidentally, is pregnant herself, says she has always been keen to combine trained dancers with people from all ages and stages in life to make her ballet productions richer.
"I've done projects in the past where I have invited all sorts of people -- children, old people, builders, footballers doctors, all sorts -- to take part," she told Reuters.
"This is another development of a long-held wish to mix up the different physical types in my choreography. The shape of people changes the way they move, and I like that very much."
She notes the stark contrast between the typically lithe light and muscular physique of a dancer, and the softer, rounder contours of a pregnant woman, and delights in it.
"You can't get a 25-year-old size 8 ballet dancer type body to move with the weight, the gravitas or the sheer cheerful spirit a pregnant woman," she said.
Lorent promises that no previous dance experience is necessary to audition for a part in MaEternal. The only requirement is that anyone wishing to take part should be up to 32 weeks by the time of the performance on May, 14. Beyond that, she says, the risk is too high of unplanned dramas on stage.
As well as recruiting 12 pregnant women, Lorent has also signed up Lynn Campbell, an active birth therapist who runs pregnancy classes in and around Newcastle, to advise on the movements and abilities of expectant mothers.
"Pregnant women do sometimes feel heavy and weighed down by all the changes, but sometimes they also feel fascinating and beautiful and amazing," Campbell told Reuters.
"Culturally we don't always have the words to celebrate the beauty of pregnancy, and although people are often fascinated by it, they don't know how to express that, so the say things like "Aren't you big!"
"So this is a real opportunity for pregnant women to be seen in a new way."
Who wants to join me?