Master ballet teacher Suzana Stankovic is the owner of Wild Heart Performing Arts Studio in Astoria, NY. She is an internationally-known dancer, choreographer, actor and director whose stage and studio work has been spotlighted within New York Post, Dance Teacher, QNS and more.
Suzana trained at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet School and Steps on Broadway in New York City where she studied with esteemed master teachers. She studied theatre at Hunter College where she received a BS degree in English/secondary education. Suzana has also studied with select master teachers such as John Gould Rubin in New York City, whom she regards as one of her most inspirational teachers.
As a performing artist, Suzana is noted for her emotional depth, artistic range and daring. Her credits include principal roles in classical ballets, avante-garde works, independent films, plays and music videos; collaborative principal roles with Tony Award-winners, filmmakers and visual artists; and, fearlessly blazing her own trail as an independent performing artist.
She was on the ballet faculty of Peridance Capezio Center in New York City where she taught adult dancers of all backgrounds until resigning in August 2017 to further develop her own studio.The faculty consists of accomplished professional artists who bring love, passion and expertise to every class they teach.
About Wild Heart Performing Arts Studio
Wild Heart Performing Arts Studio was founded by dance-theatre artist Suzana Stankovic as a haven for world-class training, artist empowerment, personal growth and creative expression in the performing arts.
The faculty consists of accomplished professional artists who bring love, passion and expertise to every class they teach.
So, how does this busy dancer, choreographer, business owner and mother balance it all?
Suzana Stankovic Q&A: Balancing First Business & Baby
Q. What were a few of the hardest things about opening your own studio while being pregnant/having a little one?
Suzana: The hardest thing was that either one of those in and of themselves are all-encompassing and relentlessly demanding. Doing both at the same time was just crazy and extremely overwhelming and taxing. It takes a tremendous toll on you over an extended period of time.
I think we can all endure a short, isolated period of extreme hard work and sacrifice, but motherhood and opening a business are long-term commitments. You need to endure sleep-deprivation, anxiety and doubt for a long time with no end in sight – not to mention, postpartum baby blues, mood swings, depression and just feeling really raw and emotional, all of which lead to a loss of joy and inspiration. I remember pumping my boobs in my freezing cold studio before my students got there. It was the dead of winter and I had just gotten to my studio and turned the heat on so, it was still really cold in the studio. I had a small window of time in which to pump my boobs so I sat there in my empty studio with my coat on and the sound of the pump machine.
I sat there staring at myself in the mirror thinking…this is crazy…I’ve gone too far this time. Who do I think I am? How will I survive this? I’m a horrible mother for pumping my boobs like this and I’m a horrible businesswoman. I’m an epic failure at both. That was when I totally lost my confidence and my vision! I lost my light. And then, I’d look at my daughter and see her smile and think to myself, I can do this. I want it all to be worth it. I want her to know that life is amazing and beautiful. I want to inspire her to live full out without fear, to follow her heart and blaze her own trail. Her smile gave me back my light.
Q. How did you overcome those hard things?
Suzana:: Well, as an independent artist I’ve always pushed my personal edge and from that I knew that great growth was always preceded by great discomfort; this fact gave me peace and faith. Deep in my core I believed in my dream and I knew that fulfilling it was going to be extremely uncomfortable. I knew that the hardship was indicative of my metamorphosis.
Q. What are three things you wish someone would have told you about opening your own studio?
Suzana:: You will be in a state of trial-and-error for your whole first year, if not more. It’s normal until your business finds its flow.
– Everything will take longer than you expected. The logistics and details of bringing your ideas into existence are the hardest part.
– As competent, devoted and hard-working as you are, you still will not be able to do everything by yourself. You’re going to need a team and you’re going to have to get comfortable with trusting others.
Q.What are things you wish someone would have told you about being pregnant?
Suzana: It’s surreal! Your body is changing in ways you’ve never experienced before and it’s both weird and amazing.
– It’s scary and stressful! Your baby is developing rapidly and you’re just hoping for the best and all the while everything is out of your control and you’re anxious about how a 7-pound baby is going to exit your body. You’re also constantly avoiding things that would otherwise be harmless due to their potentially hazardous effects on a developing fetus and this can be stressful.
– The stereotypes aren’t always true. I didn’t have any weird cravings during pregnancy and I wasn’t particularly moody or emotional. My personality stayed the same.
– Old wives’ tales will abound everywhere you go and slow you down as you’re trying to get things done! People will offer you a bunch of unsolicited advice and try to guess the sex of your child from the shape of your belly etc. Who has time for this? I don’t.
Q. What are three things you wish someone would have told you about post pregnancy?
Suzana: It’s bittersweet and sad. You go from bonding with and caring for a baby in your body for nearly a year, walking around with a huge and heavy belly to suddenly having an empty womb…nothing there. The change is stark. Post-pregnancy was a strange and empty feeling for me. I missed having my daughter in my belly with me everywhere I went; it was such a beautiful intimacy and yet, I was happy to finally meet her and have her in my arms.
– Post-pregnancy is traumatizing physically, emotionally, psychologically and existentially. You die as your former self and are reborn. It takes time to get used to motherhood so for awhile you’re in an in-between state. You’re not the old you but yet you’re not fully the new you either. There’s major existential and spiritual upheaval and it’s pretty disorienting, depressing, intense and normal.
– Give yourself time. Don’t panic. Everything will fall into place in a new and wonderful way…your hormones, your emotions, your identity, your life.
Q. With motherhood and your new studio, how do you maintain your energy?
Suzana: I avoid negative energy in all forms. I find that if I am inspired and filled with love and positive energy, I am energized and extremely focused and productive. Negative energy is the biggest drain and I keep it out of my life.
I prioritize what’s most important and focus on that. This gives me energy because what’s important to me is usually what I love and care deeply about and that’s a natural motivator.
I fill up on positive energy on a daily basis by reading inspiring material, listening to classical music with my daughter and just playing with her and being fully present with her and rediscovering the simple joys and wonders of life with her.
How do you balance work, family responsibilities and self care?
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