A Balancing Act: Boston Ballet Dancers on Being Mothers

Principal Dancer Ashley Ellis plays with her 15-month-old son while working out

Principal Dancer Ashley Ellis plays with her 15-month-old son while working out

Courtesy of Ashley Ellis

Company dancers Ashley Ellis, Viktorina Kapitonova, and Ekaterine Chubinidze share how they balance motherhood and professional dance careers.

Artist Ekaterine Chubinidze and her husband, Principal Dancer Lasha Khozashvili, with their son Nicholas

Courtesy of Ekaterine Chubinidze & Lasha Khozashvili

Principal Dancer Viktorina Kapitonova rehearses at home while her 3-year-old son Henry watches

Courtesy of Viktorina Kapitonova

Artist Ekaterine Chubinidze and her husband, Principal Dancer Lasha Khozashvili, with their son Nicholas

Courtesy of Ekaterine Chubinidze & Lasha Khozashvili

Principal Dancer Viktorina Kapitonova rehearses at home while her 3-year-old son Henry watches

Courtesy of Viktorina Kapitonova

How has becoming a mother changed your life?  

Ashley Ellis: Becoming a mother has been the most incredible experience yet. Our little boy has brought an immeasurable amount of joy to our lives.   

Viktorina Kapitonova: To be a mother has really been the most inspirational experience of my life. Each day is filled with meaning and emotion.  

Ekaterine Chubinidze: Being a mother is a blessing, one of the best things that could have happened to me. It’s a challenge, but I enjoy every second of it. 

How do you balance being a mom and professional dancer? 

AE: If life was busy before, it is just that much busier. I love that I’m able to continue to do work that I’m passionate about, and also keeps me active and inspired. It has been an adjustment figuring out how to manage this wonderful addition to our lives, but it's all worth it. I enjoy the time to myself getting to work and focus on my art form, but the time when I can go home and put energy into my family is that much more enjoyable. I also love that my son has been welcome at Boston Ballet, getting to see the wonderful artists and hear live music ever since he was in my belly.   

VK: As a mother, I feel reborn as a dancer with new emotions, a new appreciation of our art, and a new body, for better and worse. My husband stays at home with our son, which gives me time and freedom to concentrate on dance full time. I rush home after training to see them, and still have a lot of energy for fun and games until bedtime. 

During performance weeks, we keep a later schedule so my family can come to almost all the performances. With thanks to the wonderful staff at the Opera House, they always remember Henry and my husband and take great care of them both. 

EC: It’s not easy, but like every working mother, I find ways to manage both. The hardest part for me is when I have a busy performance schedule. I only get to see my son Nicholas in the morning for two hours and at break time, but thank goodness for FaceTime! 

How has your family been keeping healthy and happy while staying at home?  

AE: My son is 15 months and walking around, so he just loves exploring. We play in the house and keep him stimulated by exploring new activities. Now that the weather is nice, he can't get enough of being outside. We're lucky to have a yard and dogs that he loves to play with! His latest favorite activity is watering the plants with his watering can. Honestly, all the new things he does every day has us cracking up a lot of the time.  

It has been a process figuring out our new normal and how to manage it. I am grateful to have many things going on to keep me busy, driven, and sane right now. I have really enjoyed collaborating on live classes on Instagram as well as lots of FaceTime with family and friends. It's such a great time to catch up with people that you might not normally have the time to because of our schedules. I'm also lucky because I can ask my husband, Boston Ballet School Faculty Member George Birkadze, to teach a lot of my classes. Not only do I love his classes, but I also get the traditional feeling of a class with a teacher present. 

VK: We have been keeping a strict routine so I can dance, and Henry can play. I take class online and train for three hours every day but Sunday. Boston Ballet has been great in providing courses and resources to the dancers to help us train at home. Henry is at the magical age of three, so it’s so much joy to find fun things to play with him. 

EC: I think the whole world is in shock over this situation, including us, and the best thing we can do is be patient and stay at home as much as possible. Thankfully, I think Nicholas is entertaining us more than we are him! He’s very creative and active and gives us energy every day.  

What advice do you have for other working moms during these challenging times?  

AE: Everyone is in a different situation right now. Some are at home trying to get different types of work done while others are still needed at work and having to manage with limited childcare. As a dancer trying to stay moving, teacher of virtual classes, and owner of a business on the side, I try to get as much done as I can during nap times or after he's asleep. I try to communicate with my husband about what each of us has going on the next day. Making a list the night before helps makes each day much more productive and reduce stress levels.   

EC: Spend every second with your children and family, stay active, and be patient. 

VK: Wishing all mothers a Happy Mother’s Day filled with energy and love. Stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you all in the theater soon when this is all over.

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
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