DENVER — Chandra Kuykendall analyzes every step and perfects every twirl until the person she sees in the mirror becomes the princess she plays.
“Princess Aurora is one of the hardest roles for a female ballerina," said Kuykendall, a principal dancer in the Colorado Ballet.
The role is made more challenging by her little miracle on July 5 this year.
"I can’t get here early because I’m just holding him until the last minute when I have to go," she said.
Kuykendall came back to work at the ballet just five weeks after Levi was born.
“Today while our rehearsal was being filmed, I told Dana I was thinking, ‘do I look like I just had a baby? Can people tell?’"
Dana Benton takes turns playing the role of Aurora with Chandra. And she was wondering the same thing.
“Weren’t you pregnant when I delivered?" asked Benton. "Actually yeah! “I just found out," said Kuykendall.
Benton had Poppy in October of last year, and she came back to work just two months after her little girl was born.
“Not as fast as Chandra," Benton said. "I don’t know how she’s doing it it’s amazing.”
It wasn’t easy after the babies were born, and it wasn’t easy before either.
“We’ve had difficulty getting pregnant and miscarrying,” Benton said.
“I had trouble getting a healthy baby and getting pregnant after that,” added Kuykendall.
Before these babies, the two women spent years trying to get pregnant.
“We are looking at ourselves in the mirror and we know that our body has already changed,” Benton said. “And to see that, and to know what else is going on is really difficult.”
Rehearsals today are still difficult as they get back into the shape they were in before the babies. In between rehearsals, they pump milk, and pull out the photos and videos of Poppy and Levi.
“I’m trying to be very forgiving of myself and just taking the time to remember that I did just have a baby and my body is doing amazing things,” Kuykendall said.
And when the two dancers look in the mirror now, they see a body that created their own version of perfect.
Sleeping Beauty opens October 5. Click this link to get tickets.