We catch up with Elizabeth Harrod, soloist with The Royal Ballet and mother of two children, ahead of her upcoming performance in The Nutcracker.
What is your favourite ballet to dance at Christmastime?
Nothing compares to the joy the The Nutcracker brings to audiences at Christmas.
How has Ballet changed for you since having children?
They have changed things beyond belief. Of course I’m more tired than I knew humanly possible but on the flip side I have discovered courage and strength that I didn’t know I was capable of. In some ways I’m more relaxed at work since nothing in the world matters as much as their happiness and wellbeing. But on the other hand if I’m spending time away from them then it must be completely worthwhile and to the best of my abilities.
How did you maintain your fitness during pregnancy?
I stopped performing about six weeks into my first pregnancy as the repertoire was particularly demanding. With my second pregnancy I performed until I was five and a half months pregnant as the repertoire and costumes were both forgiving enough to disguise my growing bump.
Throughout both pregnancies I maintained my daily ballet class but at a much lower level. I would adapt and learn new exercises which were appropriate to my physicality at the time. I tried not to focus on returning to stage post birth as I knew this would make me push my body too hard. My main aim was to keep active and fit in order to help the births as I knew these would be strenuous.
What attracted you to ballet as a child?
Truthfully, I simply wanted to dress up! I had a friend who had started ballet lessons and had a pink leotard with little pink skirt attached and I just had to have one. Dressing up in some of the world’s most beautiful and finest costumes is still a part of the job I adore.
What do you think the magic of ballet is for children and adults alike?
It’s complete escapism – it transports you to a fantasy world unlike any other.
How do you mix motherhood and dancing?
Organisation is the key. I’m very aware of the long hours I spend at work, so despite the obvious hours in which I’m absent I try to make sure I’m as present for my children as I can be whenever I am at home.
Where will you spend Christmas this year?
Christmas will be spent at home in Kew. Our home is truly is my favourite place in the world and being there with my family gives me great comfort. It’s the most beautiful location, we can go for river walks or a run around Richmond Park, but we’re not too far from the city for work. By staying at home the children can be as relaxed and free as can be and it doesn’t matter if we don’t make it out of our pyjamas.
Elizabeth Harrod will be performing in The Nutcracker 5 December – 10 January. Find out how you could win tickets to a live screening in cinemas on 5 December by clicking here.