Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mom in the Spotlight: Amy Marshall

Amy Marshall spent her early performing career in New York City performing with the companies of Paul Taylor, David Parsons, H. T. Chen and Dancers, Cortez and Company and many more. Ms. Marshall established the Amy Marshall Dance Company in 2000. During the past eleven years Amy Marshall Dance Company has performed and taught across North America, Europe and Asia. In addition, Ms. Marshall serves as a mentor to dancers and choreographers through her work on numerous panels including American College Dance Festival, North Carolina School of the Arts “Arts Exchange," and South Carolina Dance Association. She is also an Associate Professor of Dance of Hofstra University.

How many children do you have? How many boys? How many girls? Three. One boy, two girls.

How old are your children? Our boy/girl twins are four years old, and we have a one-year-old girl.

Where were you in your career when your children were born? In the middle of touring and dancing with my dance company, the Amy Marshall Dance Company.

How are you staying on the artistic path you originally set out on? My brain is now Swiss cheese and it is getting more and more difficult to multitask. I still do everything I did before with the company including dancing, but now it is much more difficult. Self-presenting our last NY season this past June just about pushed me over the edge. I am looking to change the way we do things, but not ready to give up the company or dance from my life.

You mentioned making changes in the way you do things. Can you give us some details?
Concert dance seems to be having a tough time surviving. Many theaters are not presenting dance anymore because they can't sell the tickets. Every year we spend thousands on the huge international arts presenters conference and bang on many doors to get our company booked. This becomes increasingly expensive with membership dues rising, and seems more and more like banging your head against a wall trying to convince theaters of the need for dance in people's lives. Forecasting a loss, theaters look toward broadway, big name music groups and spectacle shows. 

I think there must be a way to go beyond TV and the "So You Think You Can Dance" trend, which, to me, is just a mainstream dance competition. When do you see a classic ballet dance or tap or modern? I am putting my feelers out for other ways to get my choreography and my company out there. 

My first love is choreography so I need to see where else I can create, and to seek bigger venues. I have loved running a dance company and choreographing on my eight dancers, but I also enjoy creating on large groups. Last year I premiered a piece for 14 dancers entitled,"Going for the Gold." It was a tribute to the Olympics, and the piece opened with dancers in bikertards and swim caps. It would be a terrific work for opening ceremonies with a 100 dancers doing the choreography. This was just the beginning of me thinking outside the box. Now I will be taking a more active role in pursuing these initial thoughts. 

Stay tuned!

You run the company with your husband, Chad Levy. Many of us can't agree with our partners on how to arrange the diaper bag! What’s your secret to running a successful dance company with your husband? 
I was raised in a family where this was the norm. My grandparents owned a baby boutique and gift shop, and my parents started their own pottery business which now is a lighting company. Having grown up seeing spouses working together, it wasn't far off for me to consider this for myself. 

Chad and I began as dancing partners in Taylor 2 and became very close. He believed in me and my worth as a dancer; as our relationship grew, so did the birth of our dance company. He helped to bring the company into existence and continues to push it to new levels. He is the dreamer, the idea man, and I am the realist. We don't always agree on things but by listening to each other we come up with a plan that may not have developed without the two perspectives. 

We are a team and soulmates. 

Yes, sometimes work comes into the household - the office is in our living room - but we make sure to spend quality time with our kids and have dinners as a family. Most of the time one watches the kids while the other does company work. Three kids definitely ups our stress and multi-tasking quotient even further, because as co-directors of the company we do it all ourselves. We're responsible for everything from booking to website upkeep. People look at us and can't believe all that we do, sometimes I think we're just crazy for taking so much on, but in the end we are fulfilled.

Sleep is as precious and fleeting as money for parents. What’s a typical night for you? 
My 1yr. old is is down at 7, which is pretty easily done. The twins are in bed around 8/8:30 but for the next half hour insist "I not tired anymore.” At 10:30 Chad wakes up the twin girl to get her to the bathroom if she hasn't already had an accident (they are both out of pull-ups but the girl is having more trouble night training). 

At about 2:00 one of the twins visits us in bed claiming to be scared. Chad deals with this, sometimes ending up sleeping in their bed (thankfully they’re in twin beds now...waking up in a toddler bed is painful!). If he's lucky and makes it back this may happen again with the same twin or maybe the other one as well. 

In the meantime, around 3 the little one wakes up whereupon I do the taboo-take her into bed, and if she doesn't quiet down I do the other taboo-feed her from a bottle. I have to get us both some sleep - the girl twin wakes up around 5:15 and possibly the youngest will arise then too. The boy will sleep as late as 7:30. Gone are the days of sleeping in to 9/10am. I am someone who needs at least 9 hours of sleep. It has now been 4 years since that. Boo-hoo!

Sounds like a tough night! What’s a day like?
 Here it is during rehearsal period: Kids wake up, get them fed, then pack lunches. My husband takes the twins to nursery school at 8 on his way to personal training downtown. The baby sitter comes at 9am for the little one. I leave, run to rehearsal, and meet my husband. Attempt a brief warm up after a sleepless night, then say a little prayer for my aging body and jump into dancing. 10-2 is rehearsal. At 2:30 babysitter picks up kids from school, and everyone meets at home at 3. We head to the park where the twins and their friends complain that "so and so said they aren't my friend anymore", and the little one eats dirt, sticks, and garbage left at our neighborhood park. Once home, at 5, I cook dinner really fast because I spent too much time at the park and now everyone is hungry, and crying or whining. Then we eat (which can take over an hour for the twins, who keep saying they’re not hungry after all- which is bull). Bath time at 6:00 can either be smooth or a fight to get the boy into, but once he’s in, he won't come out. P.S. by this point my bod is dead from rehearsing as well as running all over the city and playground, and of course from the typical night I just painfully described! On to tomorrow!
What’s your favorite form of exercise these days?
Physique 57 half hour video work out. I have no time for anything more.
Biggest piece of advice for new moms, especially creative, career-driven types? There is no mountain high enough, either to climb, as some days it seems, or to jump from, on most days it seems. Never think too much about it, or you'll never do it. Just jump in, go for it and it will work out. If you are always worried about things not working out, it will never happen. You make things happen by doing them.
For more information on the Amy Marshall Dance Company, including excerpts of company repertoire, visit

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