Irene is a dance mom at TLFCB, but she is also a dancer herself! Irene attends Grade 5, 6, Intermediate and pointe classes here at the studio, and has also participated in two of the foundation’s biennial productions.
An Introduction & Background
My name is Irene Manning. I am a sales manager at Intel, a mother of three and a dancer. I first started dancing when I was 9 years old, when I lived in Virginia in the US. My first dance teacher was a former Radio City Rockette! I’ve been dancing on and off for about 23 years now – I was even a dance minor in college. I first came to India in 2006 and stayed for four years, and this is when my older daughter Maya started ballet. I returned again in 2014 and have been here ever since. We found out about TLFCB through work, when Maya (now in Advanced 1) was about three and a half years old and I wanted her to start doing ballet. I didn’t start dancing with TLFCB till after my son was born though.
Do you think there are any drawbacks to being a dancer and a dance mom at the same time?
No! I don’t think there’s any conflict between the two. I like being both because we support each other. We’re helping each other out whenever we can, constantly giving each other corrections so we can all be at our best. We also practise together at home which I think helps because it creates a good support system. There’s a lot of motivation and energy that we give each other. And actually, I think it’s impacted motherhood in that it’s brought me closer to Maya and Radha because there’s a common bond through dance.
What have been your proudest moments as a dance mom and as a dancer?
As a dance mom, I was really proud during Belle and The Beast, when Maya played Belle and Radha played Chip. Here I had two girls, who both got roles! As a dancer, before I moved back to India in 2014, I was part of a company called Pas De Dance. I really enjoyed that time because it pushed me in terms of variety in the kinds of dance we did, and in the variety of the dancers we had in the company itself.
How is it having Maya in class with you? Is it motivating; does it get competitive?
You know, I remember the first time Maya actually came up to me and said “Oh I’m getting better than you”, but that for me was the point! When Maya and Radha were younger, they wanted to be like me and dance like me, but now I think they’re beyond me in terms of dancing and that makes me so happy as a mother and a dancer.
Does being a dance mom motivate you as a dancer?
Definitely – I always want to set a good example for my daughters of how you should act in the studio in terms of discipline, commitment and hard work. And I think this carries on into life in general as well.
How do you balance doing so many classes a week with everything else?
I think a good support system is so critical. My husband is very proud of us and so supportive which I really appreciate. Saturdays are the hardest because we’re in the studio from 7:30am to 3:30pm and we’re absolutely exhausted after that. We’ll go home and my husband and son will want to go out and do something because it’s the weekend, but the three of us have no energy! So it’s really great that they understand that because of how supportive they are of us doing ballet.
What kind of discipline do you enforce as a dance mom?
I am super strict about coming to class. Ballet is something that requires discipline – you have to work at it consistently and it can’t just be sporadic. Because I know this, I want my girls to learn it as well. This is why I try and push them to go to class even if they don’t want to go sometimes. It doesn’t always work, but I think learning that discipline is important. I want them to get better, and to do ballet to the best of their abilities.
How do you think being a dancer has helped in other areas of your life?
One thing is definitely the discipline. Like I said before, pushing yourself even when you don’t want to is something that you have to learn in the real world anyway. I also think performances have helped a lot. If I have to give a presentation at work, I know how to present myself and I have the confidence to sell myself to an audience because these are things we practise on stage.
What would you say to other moms who’d like to start dancing?
I would love to see more moms take up dance. It’s a time every week when you can clear your head and focus on your dancing. There isn’t time to focus on the stress from work or family because all you’re concentrating on is your fifth position. I am also so proud and amazed at Shilpa Paralkar for starting ballet and jazz. You can tell she’s motivated to learn and that’s wonderful.