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Ballerinas and Motherhood

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How often do ballerina's have children and dance professionally again? Is that common?

Increasingly so among those dancers who choose to become mothers. One season, a Stagebill article touted ABT's three new babies, all born within a couple of months of each other to two principal dancers and one soloist. All the moms were back on the stage.

Currently, NYCB moms include principals Kyra Nichols (2) and Darci Kistler. At ABT, Alessandra Ferri (2), Irina Dvorovenko and Julie Kent. Darcey Bussell at Royal Ballet has two. And there must be dozens more.

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It's hard to say how common it is. In the upper ranks at PNB, Louise Nadeau, who is contemporarly of Peter Boal, has a young daughter, and Julie Tobiasson had two children during her career.

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Lupe Serrano had two children and resumed her career and in more recent times there have been many articles about ballet dancers returning to work following childbirth, J. Kent. N. Ananiashvilli, L. Anderson, M. Butler. In Russia it is quite common actually.

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Also at the Royal Ballet - other moms include Belinda Hatley, Leanne Benjamin, Jamie Tapper

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Alla Sizova, Natalia Dudinskaya, Irina Kolpakova, Alla Osipenko, and Natalia Makarova all had sons. Altynai Asylmuratova has a daughter.

Patricia McBride has a daughter, as does Maria Tallchief.

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Patricia McBride has a daughter

. . .and a son.

Former Danish ballerina Lise LaCour is the mother of two dancing sons, Nilas Martins and Ask LaCour.

Another Dane, Lis Jeppesen, has a daughter.

Doesn't Zhanna Ayupova have two children?

Alicia Alonso has a daughter who has a son. Alicia frequently performed, her adult grandson right there with her onstage!

:)

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As far as the POB is concerned, three principals have just had children or are about to : Clairemarie Osta had a baby last year, Delphine Moussin has just had hers (she won't return to the stage until April), and Laetitia Pujol has just stopped dancing because of her pregnancy.

They're very much missed right now - and strangely enough, while it should allow young dancers to get a chance, this doesn't even happen. Talk about 3 female principals sharing between them 16 performances of Bayadere... :)

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There are a lot of mothers among the POB dancers. Right now, among the principal dancers, Delphine Moussin is on maternity leave (her husband is the former premier danseur Lionel Delanoë, now assistant ballet master), and Clairemarie Osta has a daughter (her husband is Nicolas Le Riche); among the premieres danseuses, Nolwenn Daniel had a child a few years ago. And in the corps de ballet, there are a lof of mothers, including Véronique Doisneau, Fanny Fiat, Miteki Kudo (one daughter, Jade, whose father is the dancer Gil Isoart), Laure Muret (second wife of Kader Belarbi), Géraldine Wiart, Amélie Lamoureux, and probably many others.

Among retired POB étoiles: Monique Loudières has two daughters (with the former POB sujet Hervé Dirmann), Isabelle Guérin has one daughter (with Jean-Pierre Frohlich), Elisabeth Maurin has one child, Fanny Gaïda has one son (with assistant ballet master Fabrice Bourgeois), Carole Arbo has one daughter, Françoise Legrée has two daughters,

Marie-Claude Pietragalla recently had a child, Florence Clerc has two daughters (with former POB principal Charles Jude), Claude de Vulpian has three children, Wilfride Piollet has one son (with former POB principal JEan Guizerix), Noëlla Pontois has one daughter (who is Miteki Kudo, mentioned above), Dominique Khalfouni has at least one son (present POB principal Mathieu Ganio) and one daughter (Marine Ganio, POB school student)... So having children is not uncommon at all for female POB dancers (well, there are quite a lot of dancing fathers, too).

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I wonder if there's a difference between performing in national companies on an extended contract, rather than in other companies, where contracts are short-term. I think Kent was unique among NYCB dancers in than she had hers relatively young, while most of the other mothers tended to be in their mid-to-late thirties. Having a baby while in the corps and/or in one's twenties is virtually unheard of for the women in major US companies. POB sounds like it has a much healthier family situation in that regard.

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I guess that the steady POB contracts (and more generally the fact that in France all pregnant women have free full health insurance, 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, etc.) and the relatively long careers probably are more encouraging for the dancers who wish to have children.

However, among those listed, several had their children quite late (e.g. in their early 40s for Pietragalla and Maurin), and also it was believed that some of the corps de ballet dancers went on maternity leave at a moment when they didn't expect to be promoted any longer... But some others had long performing careers after being on maternity leave (like Noëlla Pontois who had her daughter at 26 and 27- they actually performed together on stage at the end of her career, and especially during Pontois' last POB performance just before she turned 50, when she and her daughter danced some roles of sisters in Neumeier's "Nutcracker").

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Right now, the Maryinsky is practically a nursery. The most recent that I know of: Maya Dumchenko and Zhanna Ayupova. Pending: Natalia Sologub, (don't know if she's delivered yet), and Irina Zhelonkina (ditto).

Hi Helene! I'd say yes: In the great national companies of Europe, ie. POB, the Bolshoi, Royal, DNB, RDB, RSB, Kirov et.al., family leave benefits are very generous - it's almost like having a civil service job.

Hi Cabro! Yes you're right - Zhanna had her first child very early, during her corps/coryphee time.

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Alicia Alonso's daughter looks strikingly like her mother.

Tamara Karsavina had a son.

Lynn Seymour I believe had three sons (one set of twins).

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Tamara Karsavina had a son.

I may be mistaken, but I had thought that Karsavina stopped performing around the time of her marriage.

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No, she had her son before she left Russia. She continued to perform for Diaghilev until his death ...

Antoinette Sibley I believe is a mother. I *think* it's a son. Or two. I heard her mention her children in a documentary but I really don't remember the details.

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at NYCB in the past, Diana Adam had a daughter (Georgina) whose father was Ronald Bates, the wonderful stage manager and lighting designer. It was because of her pregnancy that Suzanne Farrell had to learn Monumentum pro Gesualdo. Karen Von Aroldingen returned to dance after she had her daughter (Margo, a jewelry designer). I think I remember hearing that Von Aroldingen didn't even tell Balanchine until she was about 7 months pregnant.

Lourdes Lopez also returned to dance after her first daughter was born. Patricia McBride and Jean Pierre Bonnefoux have two children -- one is adopted, and I think that it's the daughter. Among the dads, of course Peter Boal has 3 children. While his wife, Kelly Cass didn't return to the stage, she certainly looks as if she could. Kip Houston has 3 or 4, I think, and Peter Nauman and Lisa Chalmers have two, she teaches but does not dance.

Many former women dancers from NYCB are mothers who teach but do not dance (for example, Kay Mazzo on the SAB faculty).

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Lourdes Lopez also returned to dance after her first daughter was born. 

In fact, Lourdes told an interviewer that when she was told an injury would require many months to recuperate, she decided to use that time [pro-]creatively!

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No, she had her son before she left Russia. She continued to perform for Diaghilev until his death ...

Antoinette Sibley I believe is a mother. I *think* it's a son. Or two. I heard her mention her children in a documentary but I really don't remember the details.

I know Antoinette is a mother, I remember reading somewhere how Anthony Dowell talked her back on stage.

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Karen Von Aroldingen returned to dance after she had her daughter (Margo, a jewelry designer).  I think I remember hearing that Von Aroldingen didn't even tell Balanchine until she was about 7 months pregnant.

She said that Balanchine found out when she was five months pregnant and was rehearsing Leto in Apollo when NYCB was still performing the complete version. The emotion of pretending to give birth on stage caused her to burst into tears, and he figured it out, after which she fessed up. She continued to dance for a couple of months, and then he asked her to teach at the school, so the students could see what "pregnant woman looks like." (I assume as a scare tactic, given his general feelings about pregnant dancers.)

I was thinking a lot about her the other day watching Olivier Wevers dance in the PNB mixed bill. I wish they had been contemporaries, so that they could have danced together.

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