Being fit has helped this ballerina
Pregnant and a professional ballet dancer, Sarah King proves that anything is possible when you’re expecting.

Pregnant and a professional ballet dancer, Sarah King proves that anything is possible when you’re expecting

We arrive at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre to interview Senior Soloist of The South African Ballet Theatre (SABT) and 6-and-a-half months pregnant Sarah King, expecting to find a tired and worn out mommy-to-be.

Sarah, however, couldn’t be more radiant or glowing if she tried, and she’s still working hard – dancing and teaching every day. She really does bear testament to the fact that with the right diet and lots of exercise, a healthy pregnancy can be achieved.

She’s supposed to be in her third trimester, isn’t she? How on earth does she get those points on, let alone stand in them?

The 26-year-old ballet dancer greets us with a huge smile on her face, and by the way she carries herself, it’s quite obvious that she doesn’t have a pregnancy complaint in the world (apart from slightly swollen feet at the end of a long day, and only sometimes, she says, when it’s hot!).

Being fit, she maintains, has helped her a lot. In fact, she tells us, her back has never felt better – something we were sure would pose a problem.

“I had serious back issues before I fell pregnant but because I am a dancer, my stomach muscles are really strong, and my back isn’t taking as much strain as it potentially could be. Even though they are stretching and moving, my stomach muscles are still holding a lot in place,” she says.

Sarah has been dancing since she was 3 years old, a total of 23 years, and professionally for 8 years. And while she’s not on the stage at this point (we asked her if there were any, erm, lead pumpkin roles that involve a pregnant ballerina) she’s still working, and teaching 2 to 4 hours every day, depending on how she feels.

She is also participating in The South African Ballet Theatre’s daily Company class.

“My doctor is not worried so long as I take it easy and moderately,” she says. “Because I was working like this before I fell pregnant, my body is used to it.”

If she was trying to do pas de deux work, involving lifts etc, it would be another story however.

“Your balance completely goes when you are pregnant and it wouldn’t be safe for her. Her centre of gravity has shifted,” explains her husband Kevin, who is also a Soloist for The South African Ballet Theatre. “I would also freak out about crushing the baby when I pushed in on her waist,” he adds.

Being in top physical shape can sometimes hinder fertility – depending on your body mass index. So was it easy for them to fall pregnant?

“The loop was out on the Thursday and I was pregnant by the Sunday,” laughs Sarah. “I’ve never been a starve-myself kind of person, so I was already eating well and had the right BMI, etc. I was in good shape.”

The couple have been married for two and half years, and having a baby was absolutely part of the plan, despite Sarah’s career goals and the hold having a baby would put on those.

“We’ve been talking about having a baby for the last year or so,” says Kevin. “At the beginning of the year, I decided I was ready, once I’d made my debut as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty at the beginning of 2008,” adds Sarah.

Also, because she is 26, Sarah still has many years of dancing years ahead of her. It’s good to have a break, and then come back, and the Company is very supportive of that too. Had she waited 3 years, it might’ve been a different story.

In terms of the birth, Sarah always thought she would have a natural birth, but for now she’s trying to be realistic and keep her options open. “We’ll just have to see. I will probably have a caesarean section and I definitely don’t want to have an emergency one.

"Also, our gynae is in Boksburg and we live in Norwood, so if the baby decided he wanted to come in peak hour traffic, there would be a bit of a panic – that's why a caesar would be more practical. If he decides to come, though, I will push him out!” she smiles.

When Sarah puts on her dancing shoes again after being a full-time mom for 4 months, she is going to return to the stage full time, even though she loves teaching at the moment. “I love teaching, and I have really found a passion in that, but I want to return to the stage.”

So far, at 28 weeks, Sarah has only gained 7kg (doctors say 12 to 15kg is a healthy and average weight) and is planning on going to gym during her maternity leave to get herself back into shape for her return to work. After that, she has 3 months before she has to be on stage, which she reckons will be more than enough time.

So will Kallan Baillie Hurter (what they’re planning to call their son) be a ballet dancer too and could Sarah have a little ballet dancer in there already? From as soon as she could feel the baby move, he responded to different music.

“He definitely sleeps during class and when I am relaxed he’s sometimes sleeping. But then I will watch a performance by SABT, and Kevin comes onto the stage, and he must feel my heart race. He wakes up and starts kicking. I’m pretty sure he is dancing in there,” jokes Sarah, “but this isn’t necessarily what we want for him professionally in any way, unless he really does have a talent for it.”

“At the end of the day, whatever he wants to do is fine with us,” adds Kevin, “but we’d rather he chooses a different career.” And what might that be? we ask the creative pair. “A pro-golfer,” exclaims Sarah. “So that he make lots of money for his parents!”

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