Feature: Refusing pregnant pause for passion

Such is Amanda De Gros' passion for ballet, she barely broke stride when going into labour with her fourth child. This Sunday, the Richmond mom-of-four will be one of the stars of an amateur, gala show, along with her 9-year-old daughter

When she signed up for summer ballet classes, Adriana De Gros was hoping to squeeze in at least four of the eight sessions she’d signed up for.

As it happens, De Gros, a 31-year-old mom-of-three at the time, managed to extract seven of the pre-pointe classes.

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The eighth? Well, on the evening after the seventh session, the mom-of-three became a mom-of-four.

“Edith (her newborn) was two weeks late,” De Gross, now 33, told the Richmond News.

“Three hours after the seventh class, I went into labour. So, I missed the eighth class, obviously. But two weeks later, I was back in class, ‘wearing the baby’ on my chest.

“But it became a bit disruptive, with the baby crying; so a friend helped out with babysitting Edith out in the hallway for the 90-minute classes. I have a babysitter at home now when I go to class.”

Suffice to say, De Gross, who lives in a co-op in Terra Nova, is a little obsessed with ballet.

And, as she and fellow members of the Richmond Dance Company rehearsed intensely for their part in this Sunday’s one and only performance of “Canada’s 150th with Anne” – a spin-off from the Canadian classic “Anne of Green Gables” – De Gros revealed her entire brood, including 21-month-old Edith, are equally entranced by the fine art.

“Lucia, my oldest daughter, started at age two; she’s now nine,” explained De Gros.

“Shyloh, my son, started at three; he’s now eight. Audrey started at three; she’s now five and is really obsessed with ballet.

“Lucia brought (Edith) downstairs the other day with a ‘fountain’ hairdo and has her dressed in tights and a black bodysuit. All Edith kept saying was ‘ballet, ballet, ballet.’”

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n Amanda De Gros is playing the role of Gilbert Blythe in Canada’s 150th with Anne, a take on Canadian classic Anne of Green Gables, at Gateway Theatre this Sunday. De Gros went into labour with her fourth child while still attending ballet classes with the Richmond Dance Company. Her eldest daughter, nine-year-old Lucia, will be performing alongside her on Sunday. Photos (and front cover) by Gord Goble/Special to the News - Gord Goble/Special to the News

 

Thinking back to discovering she was pregnant with her fourth child, De Gros spoke of how she was deep in the throws of realizing her passion for ballet, which she only took up four years ago due to her eldest’s involvement.

“I was in such shock (about being pregnant), I didn’t even tell my husband until I started throwing up,” she said.

“I had three kids before, but I couldn’t believe this one was happening. I was finally doing something different (ballet) and was kind of discovering myself. From age 23 to 31, I had been a mom.

“I didn’t tell the ballet instructor (Miyouki Jego) until I was 12 weeks (pregnant). I thought I should tell her for safety reasons.

“But she started jumping up and down with excitement, saying this was great and that it would be great for me. I thought she was going to tell me to stop.”

De Gros didn’t tell anyone else in the class until it was obvious, at about four months, she added.

“I was actually seven months pregnant in June of 2015 when I played an active role in a show at the Gateway Theatre. It went absolutely fine and I continued with technical classes afterwards.”

Her recovery time after the birth was brief and her “easy labour felt like nothing. Two weeks later, it was September and a new term of ballet classes had begun.

“I have a long personal history of anxiety and depression and ballet has been the one thing that has made the most difference in combating symptoms,” De Gros said, when asked to explain her self-confessed obsession with ballet.

“To my surprise, it has been incredibly theraputic. Ballet has rounded out my life as a stay-at-home mother of four and enabled me to gain self-confidence and physical fitness.

“I have trained out all the sciatic, pelvic and hip problems my previous pregnancies had left me with; I have built true, core strength like never before and, most importantly, I’ve found spiritual and emotional centering through the structure and discipline of ballet.

“Ballet is so much more than just a class. It is so much more than just dancing. It is life!”

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In this Sunday’s, annual, gala-style show at the Gateway Theatre, the performances will come from advanced-level dancers across Richmond Arts Centre’s dance program, including the Richmond Youth Dance Company, Richmond Adult Company, Company Apprentices and Pre-Company classes, all led by Miyouki Jego, head instructor and choreographer.

As for De Gros, she’s playing the role of Gilbert Blythe, a male, who, she says, is a “terrible boy that Anne of Green Gables has a problem with, but she ends up marrying.”

And to make the occasion even more special for De Gros is the fact that this Sunday will be the first time she and her nine-year-old daughter, Lucia, will be performing together.

“She is super excited, as you can imagine,” she said.

“It all started with (Lucia) doing ballet. I always wanted to do it when I was a child, but I was a tomboy. So this (male) character is my childhood dream.”

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This Sunday’s gala performance is preceded by recitals by the rest of the school-year dance program students, with “Happy Birthday Canada!” at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., including beginner and intermediate level dancers in ballet, jazz, musical theatre and tap.

Early bird tickets can be purchased at $20 online at GatewayTheatre.com/Tickets or by calling the box office at 604-270-1812.

“Canada’s 150th with Anne” takes place at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 18.

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