For most mums, returning back to work after a baby can be daunting. You go from a baby bubble to an adult world again where conversations are no longer one syllable and your brain is expected to function in business mode when you’re sleep deprived and missing your mini sidekick.
Spare a thought for Lana Jones, principal dancer at The Australian Ballet, who has returned from mat leave and not only needs her brain to kick into gear but her body to perform at its absolute best again, too. And, unlike most of us, she has an audience of fans watching.
But for her it’s been a journey she wouldn’t change.
“The body is an incredible instrument and can really withstand so much,” Jones tells mybody+soul.
“Because I have been dancing for 30 years, I was unsure how my body would respond to taking the time off ballet, but in a way it has been a very positive process. It’s like I have reset my body through Pilates and body conditioning, and of course, ballet.”
Jones went on maternity leave in November 2016. She was 36 weeks at the time and her son Velasco was born at 38 weeks (impressive, hey?).
“I performed on stage until about 13 weeks, then continued to do my daily ballet class to keep fit right up until 36 weeks. I still needed to move and be physical not just for my body but also for my mind,” she explains.
With many dancers wanting to start families, the Australian Ballet has a very supportive and encouraging returning to work policy. The trainers and physios work with the dancers to get them back to performance ready once their baby has arrived.
“I officially was back at work end of June  but I had been training and getting in condition since the February,” says Jones.
“I think I had a head start to begin with because I was fit before and tried to keep fit during pregnancy, so my body bounced back quite quickly but strength has taken it’s time to get back. I was back on stage eight months after Velasco. I wasn’t in a rush, I wanted to really enjoy and embrace motherhood.”
But while getting her body back has been one thing, Jones says returning to work has also had a toll on her emotions.
“I have really struggled going back to work, my heart is seriously torn and captured by my little one and I have been an emotional rollercoaster… something that I’m not used to. I’m still adjusting to being apart from Velasco and I don’t know if I’ll ever come to terms with it, but I’m doing it!”
At the moment, Jones is rehearsing for the upcoming season Murphy so her day starts with class at 10.30am then rehearsals all day usually until 6.30pm.
“I try to get home for my lunch break so I can see my boys,” she says, adding “When I start performing I finish at 3.00pm and get a couple of hours with my boys which is so nice before I head back to the theatre for the evening show.”
“It’s been a complete life changing event and I have had to really look at priorities,” says Jones when asked if her approach to dancing and work has changed since Velasco’s arrival.
“I also feel quite empowered by the fact that I gave birth. The small things that I once stressed about now seem insignificant, I don’t have the energy or space in my day to worry about them.”
Good advice we can all follow – baby or not.
You can see Lana Jones dance the lead role of the Firebird in The Australian Ballet’s upcoming Graeme Murphy Tribute. The Murphy program will light up the stage in Melbourne at Arts Centre Melbourne from 16 to 26 March 2018, and in Sydney at Sydney Opera House from 6 to 23 April 2018.
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