A Q&A with dancer Olivia Clark

New to ComFest this year (other than strict BYOB rules) is BalletMet. The dance company will perform three works on Saturday at5:30 pmin the Live Arts area.

I caught up with Olivia Clark, an 11-year veteran of BalletMet to discuss ballet, baby bottles, economic woes and the ComFest performance. You may have seen Clark, 31, as Mina in Romeo and Juliet. She also is the wife of the company's ballet master, Hisham Omardien. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Safiyyah.

Is dancing a strenuous job with a child?

I think it made it better. . . . The only thing that's more strenuous is that now every show is after hours and I think, "Who am I going to find to babysit?" I think it helps a lot. A dancer without a child can often be too focused on things, put too much pressure on themselves. I'm focused on so many other things-making her dinner, making sure her pajamas are laid out. Distraction is good for me.

Tell me about balancing BalletMet with being a mother. What's the hardest part?

The late nights. Some days we can work late into the night, but we don't start the next day until the night. The hardest thing is getting her adjusted to one schedule and then back to a different schedule.

What's the greatest reward?

I love having her backstage. That's the greatest thing in the world to me-we're all there. And she's already into the world of the arts.

Did motherhood improve your dancing?

Yes. Coming back after the pregnancy, all your joints are really loose because of all the chemicals that are in your body. You have to be very careful, focused on your placement. I didn't want to injure myself. I could have overpushed them. . . . Once I did feel in shape, I kept that awareness in my mind. That being said, it was hard. A lot of muscles you have to relearn how to use.

What will you be performing at ComFest?

We're dancing to "Call it Off" choreographed by Harrison McEldowney. It's a really fun piece about a relationship and the obstacles in a relationship. We get to talk during it. It's really neat. . . . I love the crowd and the vibe. I think it will just be fun. Hopefully, we'll get some people who haven't seen us before to come to a performance.

Yes, BalletMet recently had to cancel some performances and reduced its core staff of dancers. Was that hard to see?

It was really hard to see positions cut because it's happening all across the country. It's hard to realize they will have a hard time finding another job. People who do have jobs are holding on to them. All we can hope is people will start coming to the arts more.

Could you see your daughter becoming a dancer?

My husband always says she can dance for posture and not for profession. It's a hard life. It doesn't pay off financially. That being said, whatever she wants to do, of course we're going to be 100 percent behind her.

Contact Jackie Mantey at jmantey@acncolumbus.com.