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.”


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Ballet West Ballerina is Finding Balance After Having Her First Child