Sara Webb: Mom of 3 & Houston Ballet Principal Dancer
Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty
Photos: Amitava Sarkar, Houston Ballet
Dancer: Sara Webb
Just weeks after giving birth to her third child, Sara Webb was back on stage performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Webb has been a Principal Dancer at Houston Ballet since 2003. She has performed lead roles in several of Ben Stevenson’s classical productions including Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Odette in Swan Lake, Alice in Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella in Cinderella. In between these lead roles, she was pregnant and gave birth to her three children: 8-year-old Joshua, 5-year-old Lillian and 5-month-old Luciana. “It is a juggling act with my demanding work schedule and raising three children, but I couldn’t do it without the support and help from my husband,” says Webb. “And as much as I love being a ballet dancer, being a mom will always be my favorite role.”
How did you manage giving birth to your third baby last September, and then rehearsing and performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy just weeks later?
When I got pregnant, I made it a goal to come back for Nutcracker. That goal is what kept me focused and motivated even on the days I was feeling sick or tired. For me, it’s all about the “prehab,” especially because I have to have c-sections. I continued to take ballet class and pilates up until giving birth and developed a recovery plan that got me back to full-time dancing six weeks after birth. It was helpful that Sugar Plum is a role that I have been dancing for many years, so I already knew the choreography and what I needed to do to be performance ready.
Dancers: Sara Webb and Jared Matthews
Can you describe what it’s like to be a professional dancer while pregnant?
SARA WEBB: Every pregnancy has been different, but, generally, I have been able to perform until my fourth or fifth month, depending on the schedule for the season. After that, I keep taking class but adjust based on how I am feeling and carrying the baby. You have to listen to your body to know what you can and can’t do. Turning is definitely easier with the lower center of gravity that comes with pregnancy! With my first two pregnancies, I had to stop jumping relatively quickly, but was able to keep jumping into my eighth month with this last one. Being a live art, I don’t know if you ever get to perfect level, but the sooner you are able to get back in the studio, the sooner you build back the strength, energy, and confidence to get to performance level.
Did it become easier with second and third or more challenging?
SARA WEBB: In some ways it’s easier, because you know what to expect and your body has been through it before. On the other hand, it’s harder, because each time you are older and have more kids to take care of at the same time, which means less sleep and recovery time.
Dancers: Sara Webb and Lauren Anderson
Do your children enjoy watching you perform? Do they enjoy music and dancing?
SARA WEBB: Yes, they love coming to the ballet and, along with my husband, are my biggest fans. When they come to my shows, they pretty much act like they own the theater and love to show everyone around. They enjoy all kinds of art and look forward to weekend dance parties at home – although it’s usually more hip hop than classical.
You are dancing the role of Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty – why do you think this ballet is wonderful for families to experience?
Sleeping Beauty is the quintessential fairy tale classical ballet that everyone can enjoy. It is ballet with a little bit of everything: fairies, drama, humor, a handsome prince, a lovely princess, a vengeful villainess, rich costumes and beautiful sets that are like a giant storybook come to life. And, of course, a happily ever after ending. My children have grown up watching this ballet and it is one of their favorites as much as it is one of mine.
What else do you like to do in Houston with your children?
SARA WEBB: We love going to the Houston Zoo and the Museum of Natural Science. We’ve been to the Houston Symphony a few times, as well. We live in northwest Houston, so we are regulars at the Barbara Bush Library. And, of course, we’ve seen our fair share of kids movies at the theater.