“Dancing With the Stars” pro and ballroom dance great Edyta Sliwinska is thinking of adding book authorship to her professional repertoire. She’s been managing to keep up her career — not to mention her great physical shape — while being a fully engaged mother to her and husband Alec Mazo’s 2-year-old son, Michael.
“I know I’m not a writer, but I think the way I tried to be a mom and go back and forth to work — I’d like to share these experiences with other moms out there,” says the Warsaw-born beauty.
“I feel like so many women are guilty about going back to work, and it is tough. Maternity leave is so short. Some people have to go back to work. I feel there is a way to go back to work and raise your child yourself.”
Her work has included the rigors of a five-month cross-country tour of Edyta’s and Alec’s dance show tour with infant Michael along. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, taking baby on a national tour. I went through a lot. I’ve competed since I was 10 years old and I’ve trained for ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and I’ve toured with ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ but touring with a baby was something else!” she says, and laughs.
One important key to making it all work for Edyta:
“My child was breast-fed till maybe like three weeks ago,” she reports. “Breast-feeding is the easiest thing that mom can do. It’s very convenient, and it’s the best way to keep your child feeling connected, feeling secure and happy.”
She realizes that might raise some eyebrows. In fact, she admits, “Honestly, I thought, ‘I’m not going to go longer than a year,’ and I was probably so judgmental of women who breast-feed for so long, before I had a baby. Now my answer is, ‘You’ve got to do whatever works for you.’ For me, with all the changes in my life, it made sense. We moved around so much. We traveled for different projects. It was that one thing consistent for my baby to make him feel happy and keep us connected.”
As far as the physical demands, Edyta finds, “Yes, breast-feeding takes a lot out of you. It does require a lot of energy. So it actually helps you stay in shape.”
By the end of her breast-feeding time, she says, “It was more for comfort than for feeding. I really, really don’t know how I did it. I was trying to quit last year and there wasn’t a good opportunity that I would be at home and we wouldn’t have something going on.”
It turned out that her and her latest “Dancing With the Stars” celebrity partner, Geraldo Rivera’s early elimination from the show this season gave her enough of a peaceful time at home with her son to make that transition.
Now, she says of that disappoinment, “Perhaps I would like to give it one more try with ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ because it wasn’t that much of a challenge for me this season.”
She’s quick to add that she loved working with Rivera. “The tough part is he is 72 years old and he doesn’t really have any experience (in dancing) so it was hard to learn anything. So that was tough. It took a lot of patience. But he’s a great person and I had a lot of fun getting to know this person who is so amazing at what he does, coming to my world, learning to do what I do best.”
Still, she didn’t get much chance to show off the choreography and dance talents that made her a favorite mainstay on the first 10 seasons of “DWTS.” Coming back after a five-year break, she is still enjoying dancing on the show as part of the group choreography, but she’d like to do more.
Then, there are her and Alec’s live shows. Edyta says they might like to take one to Europe. Of course, they might also do more instructional videos — as in her and Alec’s DVD “Dancing like the Pros” and fitness DVD “Fitness with the Pros.”
As for Michael, thanks to his early months on tour, he’s used to “hanging out with dancers and hanging out in my dressing room as I was doing my makeup and getting ready,” says Edyta. She stresses that she only hires nanny help when she’s in the midst of performing engagements. And her husband’s parents “are wonderful” about babysitting here and there.
“He actually started walking while we were on tour. I can’t say that his first steps were onstage, but that’s where he practiced a lot.” She laughs.
So, is he showing signs of following in Mom’s and Dad’s dancing footsteps?
“Unfortunately, yes!” Edyta responds cheerfully. “We both wish he would be something like a doctor or lawyer, and then his life would be more stable and secure, but he is very much into performing, and he’ll probably end up doing that.”