Catching up with Carrie Cassidy

Carrie holding her baby girl in the dance studio

The past year since my interview has been full of changes and excitement. We
moved to North Carolina and it took me a while to find a studio to begin dancing
again. I was fortunate to find the Carolina Performing Arts Studio that just
opened near my house. I met the studio owner and ballet teacher, and immediately
found my new home there. They were so kind and welcomed me with open arms to
help as a substitute, allowing me a little freedom to train as I needed. It was a big
challenge for me to go from taking class every day to only dancing for an hour or two a
week. Childcare was now a concern for me as well and, because of this, teaching
ballet has really taken a backseat.
These days I enjoy helping out the studio when they need it and I find that really
fulfilling. I have gotten to know some really fantastic people who are also moms and
military spouses through my involvement with Carolina Performing Arts Studio.
In that regard, I can really say that I have found my tribe.
In addition to everything else, our family life is quite different from a year ago. When
we moved to North Carolina our son could just barely sit up on his own. Now he is
running, jumping, and loves making airplanes out of Amazon boxes. It has been
amazing to watch him grow up so much over the last year. Additionally, we
welcomed a daughter this past July. She is just fantastic and looks so much like her
brother did at the same age. I am finding that some things are easier the second time
around and some things are more challenging with two. Fortunately, our daughter
does really well when I bring her to ballet class and there are always arms that look
forward to giving her a snuggle while I am dancing.

Due to my husband’s demanding travel schedule, I had a lot of anxiety as to whether
we could take on the challenge of another child. Having started a family later in our
lives, we had to accept that we would likely have children whose ages were pretty
close, thus adding a veil of extra chaos to the mix. I have not yet had to be the
primary parent during any long TDYs or deployments but I know this is coming.
However, I have access to some really great resources and they will help me find
some time for myself.
In the ballet studio, I am much more forgiving of myself in my abilities after this
pregnancy. I was still apprehensive about getting back into taking class. Thoughts keep
running through my head like: Will I be able to keep up? Will my leotards fit? Will I
be able to feel and work the correct muscles so I am able to rebuild strength
properly? I think so many of us ask ourselves these same questions in one form or
another when returning to any activity after a break. It does not matter if that break
is due to pregnancy, a PCS, family needs, etc. The important thing is to have the
courage to take that first step.

Carrie holding her baby girl in the dance studio
Carrie holding her baby girl in the dance studio

I have been fortunate to have supportive people around who remind me that
perfection does not really exist; in parenting, in ballet, or in life. As long as a person
is giving it their best, that is enough. However, sometimes we are capable of more
than we realize in ourselves. A lesson from a former artistic director that I studied
under has really become apparent to me in this last year. He used to chastise us in
class for being timid in our dancing. Whether it was not trying the jump
combinations, not going for the extra pirouette, or not trying to get that leg just a
little bit higher, he would remind us that we cannot be afraid to try and fail. Failure
is just the first attempt toward getting it right.

This concept has really become the mantra of my time here. I have had challenges
professionally, with military life, parenting, fitness, pregnancy, socially, etc., and I
have realized that these are just part of the process. If I am ever in a position within
our military lives to be of service to others, my process and lessons learned just
might be able to help someone down the line. We are complex. We are artists. Some
are parents, spouses, dancers, performers…ultimately we are also strong individuals
and I am so proud to be part of the collaborative framework that supports us all.

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