Amy Doughty, assistant artistic director of Ballet Cymru, and artistic director husband Darius James, are being kept on their toes even more than usual running the Newport-based arts company from home with their two toddlers. Mrs Doughty told us how the organisation's changed how it works during lockdown, and what's ahead as the world begins to return to some kind of normality.

IT'S actually been nice to have family time.

Usually at this time of year we would be extremely busy, so it has taken some pressure off.

However, the logistics of running a professional ballet company alongside juggling home learning for my two children and a constant demand of snacks and entertainment has been tricky!


Issy (aged six) and Cai (aged six) have been great though, playing nicely (most of the time) and have undertaken their school work without too much bribery involved.

South Wales Argus:

Amy Doughty and Darius James with children Issy and Cai

Darius James, the artistic director of Ballet Cymru, is also my husband, so it is not uncommon for us to be discussing work topics while brushing our teeth at night.

Living together does mean that we generally discuss and deal with work at any time of day, so we are able to make quick decisions and talk about ideas/inspiration when they strike.

But it does also mean it can be difficult to switch off, particularly for me as I can get a bit obsessed when I’m dealing with something!

We have a Ballet Cymru staff meeting once a week with five other staff members and then usually lots of other little meetings with individual staff members as and when needed throughout the week.

The main cancellations we have faced are our live performances.

Like everyone, we have needed to make many adjustments, and the longer lockdown progresses the more we are learning about the new ways we can deliver the things we usually would through online means.

We are learning more about our digital presence and our technical capabilities to deliver online and hopefully reaching new audiences as well as our loyal followers.

Many of our dancers have returned to their family homes.

Touring life can be quite transient and so this has offered an opportunity to reconnect.

South Wales Argus:

Maria Teresa Brunello doing an online tutorial

They have been cooking, painting, learning musical instruments and spending money online. I think our digital plan has also offered a creative outlet for them – some of the videos they have been producing have been hilarious!

We have been doing company classes three times a week through Zoom, but the dancers need to do a lot of other fitness activities to keep their cardio up.

Many of them have documented their fitness routines on our YouTube site at

It is not easy for a dancer who is used to leaping across a big studio to be confined to their lounge rooms – they cannot perform those big jumps and turns which require space, for example, and the focus is different when working in isolation.

And, while cross training is a great compliment for a dancer (especially during these times of lockdown) I don’t think anything can quite prepare a dancer for the demands required of them in a rehearsal process.

South Wales Argus:

Krystal Lowe showing off her technique at home

I’m sure when we do get back together again there will be a lot of sore bodies!

So far, our dancers have been contributing to our digital plan and they have been doing a fantastic job.

Daily ballet tutorials, interviews, stretching, strength, fitness, lockdown hobbies, Instagram takeovers, choreography in their homes, favourite ballet moves, teaching phrases in their home language and lots, lots more. And there has occasionally been the odd random animal/pet included too.

All of these are available through our social media channels and our YouTube channel.

Moving into the autumn, some of our dancers will be delivering education work and we will be devising lots of new programmes to engage with schools and a wide range of participation.

Recently we have been streaming some of our past ballets and we are planning now to deliver our Summer dance courses online, running for two weeks from July 28.

There are a range of courses taught by our professional dancers as well as a line up of incredible guest teachers. And, because it is online this year, we are engaging with dancers from around the world.

It looks to be very exciting and a huge learning curve for us as we work more digitally.

For more information please contact Louise Lloyd at:

South Wales Argus:

Ballet Cymru. Picture: Sian Trenberth Photography

We then have a week of dancing for a group of exceptionally talented young dancers from around Wales who would not usually have the opportunity to access ballet and dance.

These young dancers are from our Duets programme, funded by the Arts Council of Wales and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and work in partnership with five community dance organisations throughout Wales – NEW Dance, Jukebox Collective, Dawns I Bawb, Arts Care Gofal Celf and Impelo.

More about our Duets programme can be found at

Following our Duets summer school (which this year will run in collaboration with NEW Dance and Jukebox Collective), we have our Dance Camp – an inclusive dance summer school for children.

This focuses on children with learning and/or physical disabilities and their families and is a wonderfully creative course.


This course is predominantly led by Ballet Cymru’s Access and Outreach Officer, Louise Lloyd and our professional dancers will also be leading and assisting.

For more information please contact Louise Lloyd at:

South Wales Argus:

Ballet Cymru. Picture: Sian Trenberth Photography

All being well, we aim to work with a small cohort of our professional dancers during November to develop our production ideas for 2021.

Realistically, we may need to do this through social distancing, but we have the space at Ballet Cymru to do this safely.

We want to do all that we can to help with the recovery of the arts scene in Wales and beyond.

All being well, we would love to be touring from May 2021 and we are just hoping that there will be dancers and theatres left for us!

Yes, we are tentatively booking for spring 2021 - fingers crossed!