Her glowing, flawless skin and sparkling, clear eyes, even after a lack of sleep, support her theory. “There were often times in my early career when I was doing a lot of different roles and really pushing, and I was always really tired,” she says. “So with motherhood, I thought, ‘I know this feeling.’ ”
Ballet has also prepared Amber for the challenges of a new baby in other ways. “It’s the determination and having to really focus,” she says. “I’ve really had to learn how to be a mum, and learn Bonnie’s routine. It’s like when you learn a new ballet – you don’t know what’s coming next.”
So how do two parents who are both dancers – and in the same production no less – juggle the demands of a child and work?
“It’s like any working parents – we’re just trying to find our way of doing it,” says Amber. “As dancers you have a routine to follow, and I was always very organised and set with that. Having a baby has made me learn that each day, even each hour, can bring something new. I have had to
let go of any preconceived ideas.”
Her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy has made coming back to the barre a little easier, too. Not only has
Amber performed this iconic role many times, the traditional ballet suits her current needs.
“It’s not overwhelming because it’s a familiar, beautiful ballet,” she says. “I really wanted to come back to something that’s pure and classical to help me get that base strength back before I attempted something a bit more adventurous or athletic, like the modern works we do.”
But it wasn’t totally straightforward. “My body felt quite different when I first came back. We had to do a lot more rehearsals than we normally do!”
It’s not just motherhood that’s had an impact on Amber’s physical ability. She has been dancing for longer than expected, having once said she hoped to dance until she was 35. She has beaten her own expiration date by a year – and counting.
“I’m happily surprised I’m still here,” she says, laughing. “You just keep going until your body won’t let you do it to a standard you’re satisfied with.
“There are things I was able to do when I was younger that I can’t do the same way. You may lose that physical advantage, but artistically you have a new understanding, plus mental resilience and strength. As you get older, you get a little more perspective.”
So would Amber and Ty like to see their own tiny dancer follow in her parents’ pointe-shaped footsteps?
“My husband and I love ballet, but we know how hard it is as a career,” says Amber. “There are so many factors – nature gives you the body, or not, and you have to have the determination and luck. Even then it’s hard.”
But Bonnie may already be demonstrating the necessary natural abilities. “She started walking quite early – just before 10 months,” says Amber. “She’s quite agile and responds well to music. So if she’d like to, she can do it. But dance is fantastic for little kids anyway, if just for their co-ordination and concentration. Even if she doesn’t dance one day, I hope we can watch the ballet together.”
In the meantime, Amber is simply looking forward to returning to Melbourne, her home town, for a well-earned break. “This will be the first Christmas where Bonnie will know what’s going on,” says Amber. “We might have to put the decorations higher up the tree this year!”
The Australian Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker runs at the Sydney Opera House until December 18.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale December 1.
Genevieve Quigley is Head of Parenting & Lifestyle at Fairfax Media.