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Dancing through COVID with Amy Harris, Principal Ballerina

Dancing through COVID with Amy Harris, Principal Ballerina

We asked Amy Harris, a Principal ballerina with the Australian Ballet, about how she manages her days during this COVID forced break from dancing and what her silver linings have been.

Amy is married to fellow dancer and Senior Artist, Jarryd Madden and they have two beautiful children Willow, 5 and Phoenix, 1. 


The Arts came to a standstill back in March, just 3 shows into a brand-new season. These 3 shows marked my return to the stage after giving birth to Phoenix.

I could never have imagined that in my career, let alone in my lifetime, that ballet would become digital; but here we are 5 months in taking daily class at home via a laptop screen.

Amy Harris Principal Ballerina in the Dance Studio

Amy’s Day

7am ish

Waking up to lots of little noises from Phoenix’s room. Once he’s up the house is up.

7:30 am

We breakfast together as a family and then the day seems to take momentum quite quickly.

8:30 am

Willow logs in to begin her remote learning—this is Willow’s first year of primary school.

Jarryd and I, alternate as to who plays teacher (another thing I never thought would happen in my life, a school teacher!) whilst the other has some one on one time with Phoenix. The school days vary and the time that she is online changes each day, but we do a solid 2 hours with her to get her learning done.  

11:00 am

Willow is rewarded with some down time after all her learning and Phoenix goes to bed. Then Jarryd and I have a chance to get online, taking daily ballet class for an hour and a half with The Australian Ballet. Most days we actually get to do a solid class but not always and like anything involving kids we roll with it and make it work.

1:00 pm onwards

The afternoons are quite free for us so we make sure we are getting out each day for a walk, or ride and some fresh air, or a play in the backyard. Willow only needs to log in for another half hour of school to present her work for the day. 

We are also offered some online gym or pilates sessions in the mornings and afternoons and while it’s a little inconsistent from our end; when we can manage it we do pop on.  Sometimes this involves having the kids playing in the background or getting amongst it with us.

7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

After the dinner, bath and bed routine with the kids I’ve had the pleasure of teaching some online classes ballet classes for schools around Melbourne and Ballarat. It’s been a really lovely way to stay connected and have some chats with students.

I’ve also started holding my own online classes, a series of hour-long classes on Zoom and I have had the most beautiful time connecting with familiar faces and meeting many new ones.

I have also used this time in which we would normally be on stage to start studying. It’s a perfect time and something that has been in my mind for a little while. I just needed the push and this period of time has certainly given that to me!


Managing the challenges

Of course, there have most definitely been a lot of challenges too, particularly in relation to our work. The Arts industry was one of the first to shut down, and we went online quite early.

Maintaining fitness, motivation and inspiration via a screen is quite difficult, especially as time has stretched out. We have set our own personal goals to continually strive for improvement, and we are well supported by the Australian Ballet.

At this particular point in time, just like many others we face the unknown. We hope we will be back in the studio, back on the stage, and back in the theatre as soon as possible.

The silver linings

2020 has certainly presented many challenges. However, for my young family, we acknowledge that there have also been many silver linings.

We have cherished this time we have had all together as a family, without the rushing around each morning, or heading out on tour, or only having one precious day a week to enjoy together. The extra family time has most certainly been very welcomed. 

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