M.K. Victorson describes herself as a teacher, mommy, and itinerant thespian. After arriving in Chicago in 1996, M.K. ended up dancing with the Chicago Moving Company, dancing for several independent choreographers, and creating her own dance theatre works. In 2003, she created and produced A Thousand Points of Lite: MK Victorson on Church and State, a show about life as a preacher’s kid in the 1980s.
Following her early days as a dancer, M.K. found herself performing original solo plays, choreographing for theatre, and studying sketch comedy writing at Second City.
While performing in Chicago, M.K. worked steadily as a teaching artist for Gallery 37, Reading in Motion, The Chicago Children’s Museum and Hubbard Street Dance. Loving her work as an arts educator led M.K. to pursue her education degree and teaching certification in 2007. Though she graduated smack in the middle of a recession, M.K. eventually landed her dream teaching job at Murphy School where she teaches dance and drama to K-8th graders.
These days, M.K. is busy teaching and being a mommy to Charlie (5) and Poppy (1 year). She is married to Rob, an artist and arts administrator. She choreographs dance numbers for the sketch comedy group Gayco, writes a blog called Tiny Dancers http://mv-tinydancers.blogspot.com/ about life with the kiddoes , and creates the occasional Flash Mob.
Where were you in your career when your children were born?
When Charlie was born, I was acting a little, doing solo performance, and writing comedy. I was still fairly active as a choreographer and teacher. I had mostly stopped dancing, as in taking classes and performing.
How has motherhood changed the course of your work in dance? If it hasn’t, how are you staying on the artistic path you originally set out on?
I had started to really pursue teaching and I had gone back to school to get my teaching degree. I was ready to slow down on the dancing because I was getting into other areas of my artistic life: writing, doing comedy, doing theatre. I really enjoyed those new ventures and wanted to pursue them.
Now I am a half time dance/drama teacher in CPS and I have the greatest job at the most wonderful school! I still do a little choreography for comedy groups, but I really miss writing. I don’t have time for much more than teaching and being a mom.
Sleep is as precious and fleeting as money for parents. What’s a typical night for you?
Nights are okay now. Charlie goes to bed at 8:30 and Poppy shortly after. If I was smart I would follow them, but I usually stay up until 10:30 doing dishes, working on school stuff, or watching the Real Housewives of the OC.
On Fridays, I follow this routine with a glass of wine and chocolate. Both kids sleep through the night and get up around 6:30. Sometimes Poppy gets up in the night, but she usually goes right back down.
I am always tired.
Describe your work/kid balance during an average weekday.
Uhh…..well hubby leaves for work at 8am. I am home with the kids until about 10:30. We leave and drop Poppy at daycare and Charlie and I go to school (Charlie is in pre-K at my school) Charlie and I have lunch and then he goes to his class and I start work. A sitter picks him up after school and watches him until 4 or 5pm. When I am done with afterschool classes or prep, I pick up Charlie and then Poppy. We go home, make dinner, have baths, and put the kids to bed. (Rob, my husband, joins us around 6:30)
What’s your favorite form of exercise these days? Lifting a wine glass to my face on Friday nights. If I had more time, I would be in yoga class 4 days a week. I love love love yoga.
Describe your parenting style in five words or less.
It takes a village.
That translates to: save me from any guilt associated with dropping my kids off at a sitter, working, or having a moment to myself.
How did you think motherhood would affect your ability to practice your art form as you knew it? Where were you on target in your assumptions? Where were you wrong? What new approaches or attitudes to working developed?
I thought it would help me transition into the next phase or two of my artistic and arts education career. I also expected to struggle to find the time to create. Both expectations were accurate.
As far as new approaches, I am a lot choosier about the small projects and opportunities that come my way. I want anything I spend time on outside of my family to be really worthwhile.
I see you're a fellow blogger. Why did you start blogging?
I see you're a fellow blogger. Why did you start blogging?
I started the blog to make sure I was writing down all the funny things that were being said in my house, between the big people and the small ones. I wanted to write more stories and dialogues, not just bits on my facebook status, so that I could remember these moments when the kids were older. When I found out that my son had autism spectrum disorder, I realized that I needed a place to write more than ever.
In what ways was dancing good preparation for motherhood?
It taught me to think on my feet and be on my feet for hours on end. And I learned how to live on a serious budget.
How do you stay in shape? Has your attitude about your body changed since giving birth?
I don’t, at the moment. But I’m trying to get there. I go to a gym and take as much yoga as I can.
My attitude? Let’s just say I wouldn’t turn down a free tummy tuck...
Do you see your movement abilities at all reflected in your children?
Charlie is a beautiful improvisational dancer. He will break it on down! Poppy has ballerina feet like me - my feet are the only part of me that look remotely dancer-like.
Please, MK, I've seen those legs! Do you want your children to dance?
Yes! Recreationally and for study, if that's what they want. It comes down to the fact that I want my kids to do what makes them happy. If that means dancing professionally, then I will stand by them. I had very supportive, creative parents who understood that I wanted to perform and be a gypsy artist. Of course, as a parent, I'll have to ask the hard questions like, "Does the Joffrey/David Parsons/the Pussycat Dolls intend to provide you with health insurance?"