A Balancing Act: Boston Ballet Dancers on Being Mothers

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

Courtesy of Ashley Ellis

This season, Principal Dancers Ashley Ellis and Seo Hye Han welcomed new baby girls into their lives. They, along with 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 Seo Hye Han with her newborn daughter

Courtesy of Seo Hye Han

How has becoming a mother changed your life?

Ashley Ellis: Becoming a mother has been the most incredible experience yet. Our children have brought an immeasurable amount of joy to our lives. Our son tries to hug and kiss her all the time, so I hope that lasts! He really seems to be love with her which is such a joy to observe. I am looking forward to seeing them grow together, building their special connection as brother and sister. I have a brother and know what a blessing it can be to have a sibling to go through life with.

Seo Hye Han: It’s been a month since I became a mother. I am having simultaneously the most amazing and crazy days in my life. I’m still learning and thankful that I can have this beautiful experience and also thankful to my mom more than ever.

Viktorina Kapitonova: To be a mother has really been the most inspirational experience of my life. Each day is filled with meaning and emotion. My son Henry is now 4, a little gentleman who helps me.

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: It has been an adjustment figuring out how to manage these 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.

SH: Keeping the balance between being a mom and professional dancer will be a big challenge to me. I’m slowly doing small exercises now and planning to do baby ballet at the end of this month. Luckily, my parents are here in Boston to help me through this month and they are very supportive physically and emotionally. My priority is to get back to the stage so I can share what I love to do with my daughter.

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.

How beautiful it has been to watch ballerinas all over the world taking the opportunity to add to their families—what an amazing silver lining to the cloud of Covid! Traditionally such a difficult decision to make for ballerinas during their careers—as it was for me—is such great and positive news!

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. Thank goodness for FaceTime!

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

AE: It has been a process figuring out our new normal and how to manage it. It is absolutely wonderful and also keeping me very busy with the challenge of juggling a toddler and baby at the same time. I manage with help, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get any work done! I am grateful to have many things going on to keep me busy, driven, and sane right now.

SH: Communicating well, eating well, smiling, and laughing as much as possible! It’s easy to say, but not always easy to do especially in the pandemic. I always try to keep smiling so people around me can smile too. Having a healthy delicious meal also helps me to keep myself optimistic. Walking outside in nice weather with my husband is one of my favorite things to do too.

VK: We have been keeping a strict routine so I can dance, and Henry can play. Boston Ballet has been great in providing courses and resources to the dancers to help us train at home and in the studio this season.

EC: 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. 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.

SH: Go with the flow! Encourage yourself and treat yourself well. I believe that my happiness is my family’s happiness. Enjoy loving your baby and your job. Happy Mother’s Day!

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.

Bonus content: Read about Ashley’s big career announcement in Pointe Magazine.