On the Site:


Ballet West Ballerina is Finding Balance After Having Her First Child

May 12, 2019, 10:34 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Allison DeBona has graced stages around the world performing some of the most difficult ballets. Her strength as a ballerina on display at Ballet West through composers like Tchaikovsky.

But in December 2018 the music for 35-year-old DeBona changed. She and her husband, Rex Tilton, also a ballet dancer with Ballet West, welcomed their son Ajax into their unique world.

“Ajax is like the mascot of Ballet West, he just brings so much joy,” says DeBona.

When Ajax arrived, Tilton was still performing “The Nutcracker.”

“I hadn’t slept in two weeks and must have looked terrible, like dude, go take a nap!” Tilton laughs.

The couple have been very open about their journey to parenthood. In the world of professional ballet, you don’t see a lot of pregnant ballerinas, but through Instagram, Allison didn’t shy away. Often posting about dancing and training while pregnant.

“I’m really glad I did because dancing with your baby inside of you it’s just, like I’ll just cry. It’s a really special thing,” says DeBona.

She also posted about the challenges too.

“I feel like I owe that to my followers,” says DeBona. “We have a lot of young dancers idolizing our lives and what we do and I think it’s really important that I’m honest with them, so that they have realistic expectations of their future.”

DeBona says she gained 60 pounds while pregnant with Ajax.

“I was thinking like, oh my God, what is going to happen to my body? And I hated thinking that, but because of our jobs we have to think about that,” says DeBona.

DeBona returned to work just four weeks after Ajax was born. She says she only returned to work so soon because Ballet West welcomed Ajax into the studio with open arms.

“We were doing Swan Lake and Adam Sklute asked me to do the queen. It wasn’t a dancing role but then Ajax was out of the house at the studio and it was really easy,” says DeBona.

A few weeks later when DeBona was cleared to resume training, Ajax stayed with her, often strapped to her chest in a baby carrier.

“All the dancers love him,” says Tilton. “Yeah, the staff all loves him,” says DeBona.

But with Ajax getting older and more vocal his time in the studio is limited. DeBona says she’s trying her best to find balance as a working mother.

“I think that a lot of women are doing this. I understand that I have two jobs, besides Ajax, with our business Art Emotion and dancing, so maybe there is an added element in there that is unique but there are a lot of moms that do this and it’s inspiring to see other people do it,” says DeBona.

“It’s amazing to see what she can do with her time and still raise our child. It’s been amazing,” says Tilton

DeBona will be the first to admit, returning to professional ballet as a mother has been hard.

There is also the physical and emotional changes a new mother faces as well. At the end of April, DeBona rejoined the company full-time.

“I’ll get a correction, like your arms are a little low or your sickling your foot in a jump and I’m like, well, literally I’m trying not to pee my pants!” laughs DeBona.

“You just have to look at the amount of work she’s put in, the way that she is bringing herself back to her dancing physique after having had a baby. I mean my goodness gracious, only a woman would be able to do something like that,” says Adam Sklute, Artistic Director for Ballet West. “Because, speaking for myself, I don’t think I would be able to manage this. My hat is off to her, I have so much respect for what she is doing.”

DeBona says part of returning to ballet as a mother is recognizing that her life is now different, and that’s okay.

“You are literally giving up everything you had before and you’re trying to relearn this life that you’ve had for 35 years and I’m like it’s totally normal to grieve” says DeBona.

She hopes by being honest about her journey as a dancer and new mother she can continue changing the culture of ballet.

“I’m trying to do it, I don’t know how successful I’m going to be, but I’m going to do my best,” says DeBona. “And there are environments that will help you do that.”

“I think that is wonderful about her coming back to the stage,” says Sklute. It really says to any dancer, not only at Ballet West but to hopefully anywhere in the world that a woman can be a ballerina and a mother. It doesn’t have to be one or the other and here at Ballet West I firmly believe that.”


KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The NTSB released a preliminary report on a Nov. 14 plane crash that killed two pilots and seriousl...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Investigators release preliminary report on plane crash that killed 2 near Khyv Peak

The NTSB released a preliminary report on a Nov. 14 plane crash that killed two pilots and seriously injured a passenger near Khyv Peak in Provo.

7 minutes ago

(ATF Denver Field Division)...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Reward offered in Cedar City stolen firearms investigation

A reward is being offered in connection with a stolen firearms investigation in southern Utah.

3 hours ago

Kevin Franke and his attorneys walk into a conference room following a juvenile court hearing on Se...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Husband of YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke files for divorce

The husband of the popular "8 Passengers" YouTube channel vlogger has filed for divorce nearly three months after his wife Ruby Franke was charged with abusing their children.

6 hours ago

In the moment they feel like small purchases, right? An ornament here. A stocking stuffer there. A ...

Matt Gephardt

How you can avoid holiday debt despite the pressure to spend

In the moment they feel like small purchases, right? An ornament here. A stocking stuffer there. A last-minute office gift. But all this can quickly add up to a financial holiday hangover. And perhaps it’s one you’re still feeling from the last holiday season.

14 hours ago

The inversion as seen from Salt Lake City on Nov. 29, 2023. (Jack Grimm, KSL TV)...

Debbie Worthen and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

Utah leaders face uphill battle on clean air before 2034 Olympic Games

Part of Utah's agreement with IOC requires clean air for the Olympic Games in 2034 if Salt Lake is to host. Leaders have ambitious plans for the next decade in attempt to make it happen.

14 hours ago

A picture of Powder, the official Olympic mascot in 2002, who was played by Heather Mickey, picture...

Mary Culbertson and Andrew Adams, KSL TV

2002 Olympic mascot reflects on her time as Powder after big announcement

An official Olympic mascot looks back on her time during the Games in 2002, and talks about what excites her for 2034.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Ballet West Ballerina is Finding Balance After Having Her First Child