What’s it like being a touring Australian ballerina with an 18-month-old daughter?
Throw in a husband who is also a touring ballet dancer and it’s even more complicated.
Welcome to the life of Amy Harris, a senior artist at the Australian Ballet, who is touring with a toddler.
It’s work life balance, en pointe.
Jarryd Madden, Amy’s Husband, with Willow:
A senior artist at the Australian Ballet, Amy performs up to 200 shows per year; ferrying Willow, her 18-month old girl, between the Opera House, London, and their home in Melbourne.
“You have to be organised”, she tells Holly Wainwright on I Don’t Know How She Does It podcast.
Harris, who began dancing at the age of three, was awarded the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award in 2012 before getting pregnant. The 33-year old says she still ran classes and did pilates up until she was 31 weeks, at which point the number one question she receieved was: ‘Are you going to come back after your baby?’
She did, albeit slowly. “My body has been amazing… it’s been great, I’m quite surprised” she told Holly.
I don’t love this photo of me but I love what it signifies. One year ago I returned to the stage after having my daughter, Willow! What a year!! Melb – Perth – China – Melb – Sydney – Melb – Bris – Syd – Adelaide – Melb – London – Melb. All with Willow by my side and with the endless love and support of my beautiful husband, @tbdajarrydmadden and my superhuman Mum. I think back to the first day in the studio and was terrified I would never be able to lift my leg above 45 degrees ever again. But I did. It’s mostly been a pretty smooth ride with only a few times we’ve had to call on friends last minute to take care of Willow or it meant a night in the theatre for her, asleep in the pram because, well, that’s all we could do. Each day’s tough, some days more so than others, especially with days like today at work. Just shitty days and the politics. They are the days I hold her tighter while she falls asleep and let the tears roll down my face. I couldn’t imagine my days without her and I count my lucky stars she’s mine, she’s healthy and happy. I’m a better person having her in my life and I feel like it has enriched me as an artist/ballerina. I’m no supermum, I know that, I’m just bloody proud of what I have achieved within the year and for once I’m going to blow my own trumpet. Of course I couldn’t have done it without my Hubby, my Mum and my sisters, my Mum in Law and my family and my beautiful friends and @ausballet family #ballerina #ballet #ausballet #twylatharp #intheupperroom #stomper #pregnancy #mummy #myreturn #mylittlelove #family #love #blessed #happy #ididit #worldwideballet
She says it was seeing mentors such as Madeline Eastoe juggle the physical demands of ballet with motherhood that paved the way. Harris would see her do a three-act ballet, and run home to relieve the nanny. At one stage, the principal dancer took Harris hunder her wing, telling her “It’s ok to go into the change rooms and have a little cry. You don’t always have to be strong.”
Now, with the help of family, and a nanny “who does all the ballet babies,” it’s a family that is raising the barre on raising children.
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