Meet Becca! - Stamford Moms

How many kids do you each have and what are their ages?
Sam – 6
Sophie – 2
Expecting Baby #3 in August

What are your favorite family activities in Stamford?
Mill River Park Carousel + Ice Rink, Hiking and Biking in Mianus River Park, Roxbury Swim + Tennis Club, Scalzi Park

What do you like about living in Stamford?
We love our neighborhood and the fact that the library, parks, and beaches are all close by. The community has a great selection of restaurants, local businesses, and cultural events.

Tell us about your career.
Creative Director of Woof Woof the Shadow Pup, Becca is an accomplished professional dancer, choreographer, and director who has toured all over Europe, Dubai, and the United States working with modern dance company, Pilobolus, and shadow dance troupe Catapult, performing on America’s Got Talent in the final rounds at Radio City Music Hall. Holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College, Becca has an extensive knowledge of dance technique, anatomy, history, stage direction, and program development. She has presented choreography and produced shows throughout NYC and CT, including the New Haven Arts and Ideas Festival, CoolNY Festival, DUMBO Dance Festival, and the White Silo Winery. Teaching affiliations include the Pilobolus Institute, Learn With Action, FineLine Theatre Arts, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Tell us about Woof Woof the Shadow Pup.
Woof Woof the Shadow Puppresents a heartfelt story for families that shines the spotlight on sharing our feelings in the magical world of shadow dance! When Little Lucy faces big feelings in her day, words to express herself do not come easily. But with the help of her Dad and a flashlight, they discover Woof Woof the Shadow Pup, who helps Lucy speak from the heart and share all of her emotions. Lucy finds action-packed adventure in worlds filled with enchanted castles, rocket ships, and zany zoo animals. Woof Woof the Shadow Pup illuminates the importance of understanding and acknowledging the emotional life of young children. This inspiring story is an invitation for families to experience shadow play at home and in the magical world of shadow theater: wondrous worlds where adventure and possibility are never-ending.

Where did you get the idea?
My mother-in-law, Nancy Close PhD, who is a Yale Child Psychologist, created the Woof Woof shadow character with her husband when their children were young. Nancy saw firsthand how the imaginary world of shadows can simultaneously excite and calm children and get them to open up about experiences they may otherwise have a difficult time sharing. Woof Woof began spontaneously at bedtime one night when Nancy’s husband projected a dog on the wall with a flashlight and asked the kids what to call him. They shouted “Woof Woof.”  They were mesmerized. Their bodies calmed and their eyes were riveted on the ceiling.  They began to have a conversation with Woof Woof. They clearly entered an imaginary space and were comfortable talking with Woof Woof and sharing some thoughts and feelings about their day. Nancy knew that children often have a difficult time expressing their challenging feelings such as anger, sadness and worry and sometimes may instead act out physically which can be confusing and frustrating for them and their parents. Nancy and her husband discovered that the Woof Woof bedtime activity was one way to help kids learn how to express their feelings and for parents to learn about their inner worlds, acknowledge their feelings and support them to feel understood.

My own kids now enjoy Woof Woof as a bedtime activity. They too talk to Woof Woof about their thoughts, feelings and challenges. This project uses performance art to promote children’s emotional health, encouraging a playful bedtime activity that is highly accessible and easy for any family to do.

What’s next for Woof Woof the Shadow Pup?
After our premiere performances on July 31 at St Luke’s School in New Canaan, we will perform again on Saturday, October 8 at the Quick Center for the Arts in Fairfield. Our long-term goal is to tour the show nationally and internationally and publish a children’s book created from the narrative of the show.

How do you juggle work and mommyhood?
Just like dance, I am always trying to find balance in all sorts of positions. Like balancing on one leg with another leg up in the air, and balancing time spent on emails and cooking meals for my family. Nothing seems to be aligned for very long before my body gets pulled in a different direction. Every day I make different choices on how to choreograph the chaos of raising young children, looking for opportunities to be grateful for the fun, love, inspiration, and learning that goes along with it.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
You know how you instinctively use a nurturing and supportive voice to help your child when something isn’t right? But then when we find ourselves facing our own challenges, we can easily find ourselves in a spiral of negative self-talk. Remember to use that encouraging and positive ‘mom’ voice for yourself too.

Production photos by Don Hamerman

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