Ballerinas Backstage: career, kids and keeping motivated with Amy Harris

Amy Harris is a Principal Artist with the Australian Ballet. Born and raised in country Victoria, at age 15, Amy moved to Melbourne to train at the Australian Ballet School. She has since risen through the ranks of the company, and was promoted to the highest rank, Principal Artist, in 2018. Alongside her busy career, she has an arguably even busier home life with her husband and fellow dancer, Jarryd Madden, and their two beautiful children Willow, 5 and Phoenix, 1. Here, Amy gives us some insight into how she kept up her motivation during the incredibly long COVID lockdown – it tuns out having two dancers in the family helped!

 

First things first. How do you (normally) start your day?

To the sound of my son chatting away in his cot. Then the newest member of the family Link, our British Bulldog pup starts to stir and then my daughter and husband are up and its full steam ahead. We have breakfast and then get Willow ready for school, Phoenix ready for daycare and Jarryd and I ready to head into work.

You’ve just been through a long, strict lockdown. How did you maintain motivation to keep dancing throughout this time?

My motivation went up and down. I had just returned to the stage after having Phoenix. Only three shows into our season and my return to the stage, COVID hit. I was so disappointed. All of the hard work to get back, and then only to have the opportunity to do three shows out of what was going to be a really exciting year. I was frustrated as I felt like I had just spent a lot of my return in the studio only doing class – and here I was finding myself back there. The uncertainty and not having something to work towards was tough to always find the motivation to push. But thankfully I had my husband, Jarryd Madden, with me the whole time, so we both pushed each other on the harder days and of course had our beautiful kids to make us smile each day.

What is the #1 thing you do for your body or mind that keeps you going when things get tough?

I tend to have a good cry. I have always struggled more mentally than physically with ballet, and for me it’s really good to just let it all out. It doesn’t happen too often but when it does it certainly helps.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were a student thinking about a career in ballet?

To be honest, I think I was prepared well through my training, within my family and my up bringing. I had the support there for the tougher times and that’s what kept me going.

Don'e put all your eggs in one basket. The dance world is big and connected: you never really know where your path may lead you...

Amy Harris

Who is your biggest source of inspiration?

My babies. Since having Willow in 2014 I have had the most magical 6 years of my career. I’m not going to lie, it’s tough having to be away from them and not getting to kiss them goodnight but I hope they can see how dedicated we are to our art form, see how hard we work and how passionate we are. They drive me each and every day.

If you could give one piece of advice to an elite dancer embarking on their final year of training, what would it be?

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The dance world is big and connected. You really never know where your path may lead you or bring you back to.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

A lot!