Brittany Marcin Maschmeyer: “I am a Broadway Dancer, I am a Mom.”
Aug 17, 2016
Brittany Marcin Maschmeyer, one of the panelists on our recent event Talking Motherhood, is a professional dancer in New York City and has been for the past 15 years. She's performed on Broadway in such acclaimed shows as Curtains, Anything Goes, Follies, and Bullets Over Broadway. Brittany was also a Radio City Rockette for 5 seasons at Radio City Music Hall. With such incredible resume, it must be hard to pick her favorite role of all times? Brittany chatted with us about how she danced with Bill Murray when she was 8 weeks pregnant (Very Murray Christmas, anyone? Mitera Founder Yoko's personal favorite) and how her favorite role nowadays is being Mom to her 7 month old son, Essex.
Photo: Paul Kolnik
You look amazing in our Ellen Dress (Blush Pink) and Jennifer Tank Top! How do you feel in them?
I immediately felt radiant when I put on the Ellen dress. I usually wear all black but this cut and fit are perfect for me. I'm happy to add these to my collection. The Jennifer tank top is equally great! The best way to describe them is that both pieces just feel like me.
You are a dancer on Broadway and you were a Rockette! Can you share with us more about what you do?
I grew up in Florida where people thought my Mom was crazy to let me chase this dream. I’m so glad she did, though. At 19, I moved to NY with hopes of being on Broadway. Since then, I’ve performed in four Broadway shows, which include Bullets Over Broadway, Anything Goes, Follies, and Curtains. I’ve also danced at Radio City Music Hall as a Rockette for five seasons. I’ve toured the country and seen the world all while doing what I love. This career definitely has its highs and lows and although it’s physically demanding, it’s highly rewarding.
Photo: Joan Marcus
What inspires you creatively and does becoming and being a mother influences what you do? What are your other passions outside of motherhood?
I have always been inspired by movement. Since dance is my livelihood, I like to explore other ways to use my body in my free time. One way is through yoga. Late in my pregnancy, I decided to earn my yoga teaching certification. I studied at the Brooklyn Yoga Project and it was a wonderful experience.
Outside of dance and yoga my other passion is jewelry. A few years ago I became GIA certified and now design jewelry in my spare time. Obviously every woman loves jewelry, but beyond the looks, I believe each piece symbolizes a story. When you wear jewelry, it can bring you back to a place and time in your life when you received it. I can do this for every piece I own and have created.
How was working with Bill Murray?
It’s true: Bill is awesome. Compared to the celebrities I’ve worked with over the years, he is among the funniest and most charismatic. He’s also a legit pro, as well. Seeing him work closely with Sofia Coppola, the director of A Very Murray Christmas, and George Clooney was fun in and of itself. I love when actors feed off the energy of their buddies. I was 8 weeks pregnant at the time of filming so one day I can show Essex his television debut!
You have just given birth to your gorgeous son. Tell us a little bit about your pregnancy and postpartum experience as a busy working woman in New York City.
I actually was very nervous to get pregnant since I use my body as my instrument. I worried I’d feel lost, disconnected from my body, and not able to work. So many women told me horror stories about being pregnant which started to influence my outlook.
However, I had the exact opposite experience! Pregnancy brought me confidence that I never felt before. It was such a wonderful time that I actually miss being pregnant.
When I found out I was pregnant I was dancing in an opera at the Met called "The Merry Widow." It was hard to keep a secret in the beginning but I have very fond memories of taking ballet class before rehearsals. I loved being able to dance with him and let him hear the piano playing for our ballet class every morning. I loved having my little buddy with me and letting him experience what my body likes to do.
I was very fortunate that I never became sick during my pregnancy. There were spells of tiredness, but I made time for rest. Most importantly, I never stopped moving. I felt strong and I kept my body conditioned for the task of labor. I’m confident that strategy helped my pregnancy and birth go smoothly.
I read a few pregnancy books such as “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy" and "The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy”. Wellroundedny.com was also a helpful resource. (I was also featured in their bump envy section when I was about 6 months pregnant. 5 Qs with Brittany - Well Rounded NY ).
The most helpful resource of them all was my midwife Catherine Clark. She gave the best advice: Don’t worry about pregnancy, your body will do all the work. It was excellent advice because I would get anxious before every test. Looking back, she was right. My body was in control and making this little life in the most perfect way.
Could you share your birth and breastfeeding stories?
Natural birth was my game plan and felt best for my son. I also knew an epidural would send me into a panic because it would disconnect me from my body. When I was six days late, my friend Holly texted me and invited me to her class at Physique 57. I had been taking Physique throughout my whole pregnancy but that night I went into labor.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t worried when the moment came. My body told me, “I got this.” I even somehow managed to make it fun. My husband and I were cracking jokes between contractions. My Rockette friends were making me film myself to see what the pain was like. Dancing all these years elevated my pain tolerance. A friend told me to think of labor as pressure rather than pain and that you can do anything for a minute. When dancing the pain from injuries can be scary and unknown, but throughout labor I felt like my body only gave me what I was able to handle.
After midnight, my friend Brooke, who is also a midwife, came over to labor with me. We laughed because without planning it my attire was a mismatched leopard bra and underwear. Quite the outfit for labor! After observing a few of my contractions she instructed me to sit on the toilet. It was at that exact moment that my water broke. I still to this day don’t know how she could tell. By then, I had reached 7cm and it was go time! My contractions were very intense by the time we arrived at the hospital.
Throughout labor I felt like a warrior. I felt like this was the job my body was created to do. I trusted my body. I had extreme faith in my midwife who coached me through contractions like a choreographer giving notes. My Mom and husband were in the room with me. At 7:05am Essex Ryan Maschmeyer quietly entered the world. We’d only been at the hospital a couple hours.
He was alert. He looked at me. He breastfed immediately. He knew I was his mother. It was amazing! Those first fifteen mins were the most peaceful and wonderful in my entire life. It was a unique high that only a mother can feel. We’ve been in breastfeeding heaven ever since.
How would you describe your parenting style? How are your and your husband’s philosophy similar or different?
I am a very anxious and highly scheduled person. I figured I’d be that way as a parent. I’m shocked that I’ve been so laid back. I have a couple dear Mom friends that I trust and align with their parenting style. If I’m having an issue, I go to them with it. I love doing activities and meeting up for dates with other Mom friends. Essex and I also do baby yoga classes where we dance and sing together. That’s my favorite time of the week.
My husband is the most incredible father. He's tender with our son and has patience to really show him everything and how it works. We decided early on that we always wanted one of us with him so he feels safe and, in turn, confident. As he continues to grow, we’ll be doing our best to foster creativity, empathy, self control, kindness, and a sense of self-lead learning in him. We feel those are the most important base level qualities to thrive in a highly unpredictable world.
I also want Essex, as he grows, to look up to me for having a career and a passion. My Mom was a school teacher and she absolutely loved her job. That has helped shape the woman I am today.
What do you think are some of the biggest joys and challenges of modern motherhood?
The smallest things overwhelm me with an avalanche of joy:
- How Essex laughs at our dog.
- His “talks” first thing in the morning in his crib that I hear on the monitor.
- Watching him turn the page as I read to him.
- How he touches my face when he breastfeeds.
- His growls.
- The way he always crawls to the dog bowl.
This is an endless list.
What support you wish you had/have in your day to day life as a working mom? What does a brand like Mitera meant to modern working mother like yourself?
In my industry, there aren't many mothers. The ones I have known over the years, have my utmost respect. The lives of dancers and actors is a life of bouncing from job to job. Finding that career-family fit is very hard.
That Mitera puts its focus on the needs of mothers and motherhood is so important. At best, our culture takes mothers for granted. At worst, we treat it like an annoyance. The ridicule of breastfeeding mothers, the pittance (if any at all) of maternity leave offered by employers, the general disrespect of not offering a subway seat to a pregnant woman, are just the tip of the iceberg. I wish we had more companies that held up mothers the way Mitera does. Feeling beautiful, fashionable, and comfortable in your own skin throughout pregnancy and while nursing is what every Mom wants. I’m personally glad to have Mitera in my life and closet now.
How do you and your husband juggle all the demands of work, raising kids and staying happily married?
My husband and I always find our time together even if it's just snuggling for 5 mins in bed at night. We both know when to put work aside and have our family time. As simple as it is, we try to never have our computers or cell phones out while eating dinner together. We both are on the same page that nothing comes before Essex, so that helps keep our priorities in check.
The little things are so meaningful once you have a baby. I always put a note in his lunch or send him a sweet text to remind him how much he means to our family. For us, we have found that it gets really tough sometimes, but the next day may hold the most delightful surprise. My husband always reminds me to understand that the present is not permanent. Everything passes. When I remember that, the difficulties of the moment don’t seem so hard. In fact, sometimes they feel like something to appreciate.
What’s next for you as a dancer? What are your hopes and goals in your career?
I feel fortunate that I have already achieved all that I wanted and more in my career. Everything from this point on is a cherry on top. At the moment I’m taking a break from performing. Broadway is 8 shows a week and it crushes me to think that I’d be away from Essex and always miss his bedtime. These days I’m putting my career energies towards teaching dance. I want to help bring up the next generation of dancers and be a positive influence in their lives. I am also developing a creative movement and yoga based class for babies and young children.
This time is so formative in his personhood and sets him up for the rest of his life. I truly believe that who he will become will be decided by how he is raised these first few years. In my mind, that’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly and do not want to be distracted from it.
Photo: Robert Petkoff
Last question! - what has been the most surprising thing about motherhood so far?
I’ve been blown away by the support of other mothers. It's a wonderfully secret club you really can't relate to until you've gone through it.
Thank you for an amazingly candid and inspirational interview, Brittany!